Software app helps school teachers plan lessons

Point Grey secondary grads create Planboard

Frustrations witnessed in high school inspired the latest software app by a pair of recent Point Grey secondary grads.

"We were in high school back when we started creating web applications," said 19-year-old David Kim. "It was basically inspired by our own teachers in high school, how they were still using just physical agenda books and they were always wondering if there were alternatives to that so we wanted to help them with that."

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Kim and his business partner William Zhou have created Planboard, an online tool that helps teachers plan lessons and store related materials that can be reused from year to year and easily accessed by a substitute teacher. Teachers can click on and type in upcoming tasks for a particular day.

Some of their former instructors are testing the application now, says Kim. He and Zhou hope to see it licensed to teachers and school boards far and wide.

As reported by the Courier about the entrepreneurial pair in 2010, Kim and Zhou's business relationship was born in a Grade 10 IT class. They launched Design Vetica, a web design and media production company in 2009.

Design Vetica sold the Draftboard app they designed while still in high school, which allows clients to log in and see mockups of their websites, to a company in the United Kingdom for five figures after Zhou moved to study computer science at the University of Waterloo. Kim heads to the University of B.C. to study business this September.

Their Kitchener, Ont.based offshoot, Vetica Interactive Inc., won $25,000 and mentorship, incorporation and a workspace to launch their startup last winter from the VeloCity Venture Fund, an initiative of the University of Waterloo. The design team works in Vancouver with engineering in Kitchener and six employees who are still in school.

Vetica's director of sales and marketing, Suraj Srinivas, says 400 teachers in Canada, the United States, Australia and the U.K. are using Planboard. "The original way of doing it was in a big binder with a daybook, so your daybook referred to your binder, which referred to the curriculum, so you have three, four different sources and each of those binders had papers, lesson plans and added information and assignments," he said. "We're getting rid of the multiple things that teachers have to keep track of, to organize and preserve if they want to re-teach the course again, so we give them a place online to do that."

Srinivas said comparable apps focus on helping teach-ers get information to students. "We are focused on making the teacher's job easier," he said. "We believe that the teacher is still a vital cog in the education machine and as much as technology is driving them to be sort of observers, we think the teacher is still the one that's most influential in a student's life."

crossi@vancourier.com Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi

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