Stackup is a Chrome browser extension that measures students’ time learning on the Internet. “Teachers use Stackup to make free reading fun and accountable,“ said Nick Garvin, the company’s CEO.
Students can use the browser extension to research subjects that interest them, or teachers can establish guidelines and allot topics to peruse. “Stackup keeps track of the amount of time students spend actually reading on their devices by subject area and even by specific websites,” said Garvin.
One of the tool’s goals is “making reading fun by providing badges [or] data for students and teachers,” he said. Garvin said that teachers can create challenges for their students to compete against themselves or classmates. Stackup is currently being tested in elementary schools and will soon debut in additional schools and after-school programs.
Stackup worked with J.W. Wilson, executive director at the Advanced Learning Institute, to learn more about the brain and how learning really works. “As obvious as it sounds, real learning (brain growth) takes place when a student is passionate or interested in the topic he or she is learning about. This can be called accessing the ‘meaning network’,” said Garvin.
“The problem is that it can be difficult for educators to identify what a student is interested in and it can even be harder for a student to tell you,” he continued. “Data and time tracking by category on the web allows for this info to automatically be identified.”
“Even adults using Stackup sometimes say ‘Wow, I didn’t know I read so much about nutrition or I didn’t know I was so interested in aerospace.’ Allowing educators to see this data gives them the tools to connect with students better,” said Garvin. “For example, Becca wants to be a nurse and you are trying to teach her about the physics of bridges. She has no interest until you explain to her that bridges are a lot like bones, and all of a sudden a light goes off.”
This process is partly why Garvin started Stackup. “As an avid reader of the automotive industry, I started reading and following the latest car tech and trends at a young age. I am an expert in automotive, but have never received a certificate or degree for it, because it was all done informally,” he noted.
“When I graduated with a business degree and wanted to apply to work at Tesla Motors, I had nothing to show for it,” he said. “This is why Stackup exists, to capture the billions of hours spent every monthly learning on the biggest library in existence, the web.”
Garvin’s goal is for the tool to live alongside students starting in elementary school through high school, help them get into college, and then onto helping them get a job. “Stackup provides insight into a user’s interests, passion, and learning that didn’t exist before, making it a great addition to one’s resume,” he said. “Come check us out.”
Erin Flynn Jay is a writer, editor and publicist, working mainly with authors and small businesses since 2001. Erin’s interests also reach into the educational space, where her affinity for innovation spurs articles about early childhood education and learning strategies. She is based in Philadelphia.