Education platform now live – I give it a resounding “meh”

FYI: Meh is a relatively new word that expresses a level of indifference so acute that you can't even be bothered to be snide. I first came across Xplana several months ago when I started following their blog. They are a subsidiary of MBS, a textbook distributor and tech services company in the education industry. About 2 weeks ago Xplana posted a press release to their blog and that's when I first learned about their new web based education tool. I followed up with a couple questions, and Rob Reynolds very generously took his time to give thorough answers. I've quoted an edited set of his answers at the end of this post because they give a very good overview of

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 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, 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 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, 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. features a complete messaging

2. In addition to the informal learning components supported by,
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.

About Nate Hoffelder (11466 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

1 Comment on Education platform now live – I give it a resounding “meh”

  1. What is the full form of MBS?

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