How the Jelly App Will Help Change Education (Sorry Siri)

How the Jelly App Will Help Change Education (Sorry Siri)


For quite sometime now I have been wondering about certain content knowledge items in education. Math formulas, historical dates, things like that. Now I’m not saying they aren’t import I am just questioning the certain quiz and tests we give our students. I’m certain we can all admit someone in our school still gives a spelling test and deems it important (yes SPELLING is important – but the quiz?)…Anyway….

“If Siri can answer the question, you may wish to rethink the question”.

This has been my motto for every piece of assessment I give. Helps me reflect on what I actually want to know of my students and their cognitive abilities. Encouraging students to seek their own information using the resources available to them is important. Sure retention is also important, but where is the balance. I’d happily remove Knowledge and Understanding from my rubrics if I could. I’ve taught my students how to find these answers.

Let me introduce Jelly.

Twitter co-founder puts social twist on search with new Jelly app

“Jelly app seeks to improve way people search for and find information, by querying people instead of search engines”
“Everyone is mobile, everyone is connected. So if you have a question, there’s somebody out there that knows the answer,” said Biz Stone, the CEO and co-founder of Jelly in a video on the company’s website. Stone was among the team that in 2006 created Twitter, the social network and microblogging service that had a blockbuster initial public offering in November.”

Today I explained Jelly like meets Wiki crossed with a little Siri – like Google but faster. In a nutshell a user takes a photo of something and asks a question of their social network – either twitter or facebook. Anyone with the app in their twitter or facebook network gets a notification and has the option to answer or forward to their social network creating a viral component to asking questions. I like this over Siri because answers are from real people and not the stock database. Someone out there has the answer and I want my question to go viral until it hits that individual.

I also like that I can take pictures of unique shapes in math and ask how to find the areas – or at least where to start. Siri cannot do this. Again, services like this exist buy Jelly is almost real-time on demand.

Now some will argue that like Wikis, how can you validate the responses from people in terms of accuracy. It becomes clear after playing with it that you will get a varying degree of responses from a varying amount of people on the app and it is up to you to formulate the best answer. Makes you think a little….

How does this fit in education? Well, any classroom that embraces devices and asks content/knowledge based question will have straight A students. Period. And why wouldn’t you. You encourage students to use technology and seek information. Jelly is even easier than Google. Answers are short and specific and from your PLN. You may also judge a response based on who from your PLN said it.

So I tried it today and posed a simple question. “What is the best QR code generator” and I got several responses.

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You’ll notice here that I received two answers from people outside my PLN. An extended PLN if you will. People who follow Doug Peterson and use Jelly were able to respond to me. Also note the app is about a week old and I received eight responses today with the first one happening just minutes after I asked the question. What will this look like when the app finally catches on?

So my thinking as of now – 6:50 PM January 13th, 2013.

I have promoted Siri as a great means to solve knowledge based questions or to acquire knowledge to answer richer questions (or just “Google it”!). Now I see Jelly as a collaborative approach to solving much higher order thinking questions using opinions from people in your PLN. Very much collaborative. Very much informative. The questioner still has to formulate an opinion by filtering the varied responses.

If students made their own PLN on twitter or facebook, they could ask each other questions anytime and get answers anytime. We all jump when our notifications go off. I know I do.

Many of my students follow me on twitter. I could pose questions outside of school hours for students to respond to. Sure many already do this, Jelly just makes it so much easier – and faster.

So before I finish, let me touch upon MC questions and standardized tests (data data data – scores scores scores). Standardized tests are good benchmarks, but not the driving force. I think we can all agree there are far too many variables these tests cannot measure. The process of deriving the solution is sometimes more important than the solution itself. Resiliency, problem solving, initiative etc.

Let me give a simple, but true example.

In order to drive a boat here in Ontario you must pass relatively knowledge based test about driving boats. Fifty MC questions and you must score a 75%.

Now I have never driven a boat but I guarantee I would score 90+% using google, Jelly and Siri.

What does this mean? I may actually hurt someone on the water… and I am really good at beating the test.

The problem is the test. There is no true indicator of my ability to actually drive the thing!

I hope Jelly is another strong factor in transforming education – or at the very least our methods of assessment.

In the past, I’ved used Siri to answer EQAO tests as an experiment. She nails the knowledge questions every time but cannot interpolate graphs or solve problems based on visual prompts.

But Jelly can.

Now I could use Jelly to do the open response. I’d be a solid level 4 student here in Ontario if I was allowed to use my phone.

What does that mean?

I’m not sure today what that means. I hope that tomorrow it means change.

And sorry Siri, it’s been a good run. We’ve had some great times. Jelly just understands me better….

(Disclaimer: The above boat example came from my principal’s 17 year old son who googled every answer on the BOATsmart last summer and scored 100% – think he got to drive the boat at their cottage??)


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2 Responses for this post

  1. Debbie Axiak
    Debbie Axiak
    | |

    Good insights into the use of Jelly vs Siri vs Google for education – thanks for sharing.

  2. dougpete
    | |

    You beat me to a blog post, Brian. Nicely done. I’m struggling for the niche for Jelly. I already use Quora for the time of thing that I perceive that Jelly does. I do like the fact that it reaches out to the experts in your network for substantial answers. This will be an interesting problem to follow.


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