Interview with Niel Ryan; Founder of GreenBambooShoots and designer of TeacherPlan
How long did it take to write TeacherPlan?
I have been collecting teaching ideas for 3 years. It has taken two months to select the best ones and re-write them for the app. I have also been lucky to have the input and editing of numerous other teachers. I anticipated that the app itself would take 2 months to produce, in actual fact it has taken 7 months. That has been due to several redesigns to achieve the quick launch time and make using TeacherPlan feel good (and by that I mean natural and ergonomic).
Why did you create TeacherPlan?
“The reason that I created it was because I was frustrated with the length of time it took to write a formal lesson plans. Time is precision and that is particularly the case for teachers during the term time. TeacherPlan allows teachers to tap into what they want to do, so rather than having to type everything out TeacherPlan takes care of the hard work. As a teacher (which I am) the last thing that I want to do is spend a long time completing administrative tasks. I like all teachers want to get on with thinking creatively about how our students are going to be learning.”
Why is reducing administration important to you?
“By reducing the administrative burden on teachers it means that they can focus on the preparation of resources and the delivery of an excellent learning experience for their students.”
Why would anyone want to plan lessons on a small iPhone screen?
“In general I don’t anyone would choose to. The reality is that many teachers live incredibly busy lives and we have to. The reason that I found myself planning lessons on the iPhone is that often the IT equipment in schools is out of date and slow. The iPhone is fast and it’s something that I have with me nearly all of the time. When I have down time, commuting to work or in-between a meeting after school I want to be able to make the maximum use of that time. The iPhone lets me plan lessons and so it really has revolutionized the way I work. TeacherPlan makes the process of planning lessons even easier. It is essentially a database of hundreds of teaching ideas that I’ve picked up and developed over the course of many years. A by-product of having so many educational ideas easily accessible is that it provides new choices and ideas of teaching topics. That ultimately means that students are going to get a greater variety of teaching methods and they are going to get teaching methods used that are best suited to the topic that is being covered. TeacherPlan genuinely is a brilliant piece of educational planning software.”
It is and inevitably you need to put in your own twist and turns into a lesson to really get a class engaged and passionate. So that means entering in data. For that reason TeacherPlan takes advantage of SIRI and allows users to dictate text.
What do you think is the best feature of TeacherPlan?
“It’s hard to say, there are so many. One of the things that bug me about apps is having to have internet access. Quite often in schools I find that the wifi is slow or that I’m in wifi dead spot. For that reason TeacherPlan has been designed to be able to work without the internet.”
How have you found the process of designing and writing an App and have you made much money?
“It has been much harder and more challenging than I anticipated. I have really enjoyed it and that why I keep on making improvements. There is a lot of buzz around Apps, what people don’t realize is that for every winner there are tens of thousands that make very little. Some people think that you become very rich by writing an app. The reality is that it’s a lot of hard work, what keeps me going is the positive feedback that I’ve had from so many people. For that reason I will continue to make improvements to TeacherPlan. “