Purdue-related startup helps instructors create interactive lessons with cross-platform app template

March 23, 2015  

active lessons

The Active Lesson LLC app template was used to create a lesson in canine anatomy that highlights muscle groups for veterinary students. The technology was developed and commercialized by Kevin Hannon, founder of Active Lesson and associate professor of basic medical sciences in Purdue's College of Veterinary Medicine. (Image provided)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Instructors could create interactive, self-guided lessons for their students using a software startup's cross-platform app template based on Purdue University intellectual property.

Kevin Hannon, founder of Active Lesson LLC, created the app template to strengthen his students' understanding of canine anatomy. Hannon is associate professor of basic medical sciences and teaches canine anatomy in Purdue's College of Veterinary Medicine.

"My students were using a textbook to guide themselves through coursework and laboratory dissections," he said. "It used black-and-white images and it was a good reference guide, but not a good introductory anatomical text or lab dissection guide. There were no suitable alternatives."

Utilizing the Active Lesson app creation platform, Hannon created a Canine Anatomy app that included interactive, colorful images, dissection videos and detailed questions utilizing text, toggle and draw features. Using the information presented, he also included review quizzes to reinforce the students' knowledge.

The Canine Anatomy app has since replaced all other resources for the course. Hannon said student response has been favorable, and purchasing the app instead of the original anatomy textbooks saves the students money. Hannon copyrighted his work through the Purdue Research Foundation's Office of Technology Commercialization.

"Active Lesson has several educational attributes that benefit students and instructors," he said. "Along with being interactive, it is intuitive to use and designed so students can guide themselves through lessons. It utilizes active retrieval, which is a good learning modality. It allows instructors to download and monitor student progress, as well as change content immediately."

Hannon said instructors who create an app with Active Lesson retain ownership of all content within that app.

"Faculty may not feel comfortable with the principle of sharing and modifying content, especially original material," he said. "Active Lesson provides faculty control of their content - no one will be able to take a lesson and modify it."

Edie K. Schmidt, professor of supply chain management technology, used Active Lesson to create an app for students in the Industrial Organization class. It is a flipped classroom model where students learn content on their own and then discuss and solve questions during class. Schmidt used Active Lesson to make sure students could review the content before class meetings.

"The lesson is a graded quiz that allows students to answer multiple times to get to the right answer. The students can access it on their phone right before class, which is convenient for them," she said. "Using Active Lesson took rote material out of our purview; I didn't need to lecture on the three forms of organizations because the students covered that on their own with the app."

Active Lesson works across all electronic platforms - desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile phones - and fits screens automatically without the user needing to make a manual adjustment. Instructors can apply to create their own apps at http://www.activelessonapps.com

The company has been nominated in the Education Tech Award category of the 16th annual TechPoint Mira Awards. The awards recognize innovation and entrepreneurship across the state of Indiana in 14 categories. Winners will be announced May 2 in Indianapolis.

"Being nominated for this award means a lot, especially considering several other nominees are based on work at Purdue," Hannon said. "The entrepreneurial atmosphere at Purdue is growing stronger all the time. There are many programs and resources for faculty, staff and students who want to translate their discoveries into companies."

For information on other Purdue intellectual property ready for licensing and commercialization, visit http://otc-prf.org. For more information about available leadership positions, investing in a Purdue startup or licensing a Purdue innovation, visit http://www.purduefoundry.com

About Active Lesson LLC

Active Lesson was created by Kevin Hannon, an award-winning instructor of veterinary anatomy at the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine. He has worked with his students to create an educational tool that is interactive, intuitive to use and accessible. The results of these efforts are Active Lesson.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology-transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org. 

Source: Kevin Hannon, 765-494-5949, hannonk@purdue.edu

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Steve Martin, 765-588-3342, sgmartin@prf.org 

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