I've wandered through the Xplana website for several hours now, and I'm really not impressed. As far as I can tell, Xplana are trying to pull together a bunch of different abilities into one website what I already have pulled together in one _browser_:
- You can search for content; I already can do that with Google, WolframAlpha, etc.
- You can upload video and audio; I already do that with Youtube (and you have to have a Youtube account to upload at Xplana anyway).
- You can annotate and edit content; I already have an office suite on my laptop.
- You can share content; I already do that with Twitter, email, Facebook, etc.
- You can form communities; I don't care about that aspect but you can already do that with Facebook (and others).
- You can read ebooks; I already have that.
As I see it, anyone who might want to use Xplana.com is already doing something similar with a tabbed browser. Firefox has this thing beat hands down.
I can also give a good comparison to NookStudy. NookStudy has become one of my preferred tools; it's the best desktop reading app I've found. On the other hand, Xplana.com wants to replace several of my tools and it doesn't really do as good of a job.
Another problem with Xplana is that it is a website. I checked with my youngest brother, and his school district only allows limited web access. He won't be able to use this site during school hours, and outside of school most kids will revert to whatever they were already using (unless forced into it by their teachers, which you gotta admit will happen).
One final note: The biggest selling point for Xplana.com is the integration of the uploading, editing, and sharing content with a community. But did you know that this kind of integration has already happened with Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, etc? I don't use it but I know it's there.
From an email:
With regards to other products in the market, Xplana.com is different
from NOOKStudy or Copia (or CafeScribe) in that its primary focus is on
informal student learning as opposed to e-books specifically.
** We aggregate and index free learning resources from all over the Web
(Web sites, YouTube videos, etc.). At launch we will have more than 200,000
such assets mapped across a robust subject index and tagged down to key
course topics for easy browsing.
** We also allow students to upload their own content, and provide a rich
set of tools for creating and mashing up content.
** The platform focuses first and foremost on the individual student. To
that end, every registered user receives a personal home space where he/she
can access his/her content, journal/blog, and communities.
** In addition to our communities, students can also invite other users to
become friends, and they can create friend groups with whom they can
communicate, and share content. Xplana.com features a complete messaging
2. In addition to the informal learning components supported by Xplana.com,
we are also designing our service to tie back in to the formal learning
containers prominent in traditional education. For example, Xplana has
robust ereader and, through its parent company MBS, provides e-books from
a variety of publishers.