Panarea Digital is an e-book, app, and mobile technology developer with a focus on education. The firm has produced interactive e-books for Barnes & Noble and other companies, but Panarea Digital is now focused on Nearpod, a mobile learning platform that uses the iPad and other mobile devices as a networked classroom teaching tool.
Emiliano Abramson, director of business development at Panarea Digital, told PW the company produced more than 500 interactive children’s books for the NookColor when B&N was launching the device. But he was quick to note that the launch of the iPad presented the company with “huge opportunity. Kids are going to school with tablet devices. The prices are coming down and these devices can be used anywhere.” Abramson believes that mobile devices like Nearpod will be the “white boards and presentation” platforms of the future.
Based in Miami with offices in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and production facilities in Argentina, Panarea Digital was founded in 2003. The firm has 120 employees including producers and designers in its bilingual office in Argentina.
Using a wireless network, teachers can use Nearpod to present interactive lessons and presentations to students on networked tablet devices while monitoring the responses of everyone in the class. Using Nearpod’s proprietary software, the teacher has a “dashboard” control panel on his or her tablet device and a large presentation screen, and can direct students’ attention back and forth between their personal devices or to presentations on the large format screen. The software allows teachers to use either prepared material structured around a text or to use original materials—from photographs and Web sites to audio files, animation, and video—gathered from online or other sources. Teachers can offer interactive quizzes and surveys and show the results immediately to the entire class, all while monitoring each student’s individual progress from their dashboard screen. Abramson said the technology will work in classrooms, adult distance learning programs, or professional training.
Teachers can create their own materials or find content on sites like TeachersPayTeachers.com, an open marketplace for teacher-developed instructional materials that allows teachers to sell or buy content from fellow teachers and produce comprehensive presentations for the Nearpod platform. Indeed, Abramson emphasized that the creation of original digital learning materials as well as materials to assess learning is at the heart of Nearpod’s utility.
He called Nearpod “professor-centric. Either the teachers or publishers will drive the creation of this content,” and Nearpod is talking to both sides. The company has launched pilot programs in 20 U.S. schools, offering the technology for free to show off its effectiveness and aiming to attract more schools to the pilot program. He said the firm was also in talks with publishers: “The devices are being adopted by schools, so this is an opportunity for publishers who move quickly. We’re confident that change is happening in the school systems and we want to be a part of that change.”