Making way for something new - Synth.
We're shutting down Recap this January 2019. It's a decision that we've made carefully and with some regret for the impact on active users. But it's a necessary step for us to make room for something new and potentially more valuable.
We're pleased to introduce Synth - Interactive podcasts in byte-size increments.
Synth empowers student and teacher voice by making it easier than ever to find the time to listen. It's free, has full web and iOS support, and even has limited Android support for students.
Whether you are a passionate Recap user, a casual supporter or you have moved onto other tools, I'd really appreciate it if you read this story. Its about our experience supporting Recap, why we're shutting it down, why we're excited about Synth and what to expect during the transition.
Don't have time to read? Just listen to the rest of article.
Why shut Recap down?
Recap 1.0 was a basic but promising solution that we launched in 2015. It was built on the back of deep user research and many insights gained with Swivl, our original video product for education. We played a substantial role in pioneering and popularizing the use of video with students. Something we're deeply proud of to this day.
Recap 2.0 was meant to build off that. We had high aspirations, good intentions and similarly deep user research. But instead, Recap 2.0 was a misstep. We didn't get the experience right. And our attempts to fix it missed the mark. Then came #Flipgridfever.
Flipgrid created a community movement that was bigger, stronger and louder than anything we had ever seen. One that completely overwhelmed our small team and limited resources. It became next to impossible to build our own community and independent product path. Everything we tried was ineffective or pulled into the vortex. My team became overwhelmed and people started departing the company.
When it was clear we were off track, I took a step back to reflect. Despite the hard knocks and challenges encountered, there were some valuable lessons learned. Failure is a great teacher. And this was motivating me to start building again. But it was clear that we couldn't just tweak things further. Recap had gotten too messy. We had to start clean.
What led us to Synth?
There were some nagging concerns still left for me to resolve.
Why did we miss the mark with Recap 2.0? We used the same process as Recap 1.0. But the outcomes were very different. After some reflection, it dawned on me. I wasn't a target user for Recap. So while it was possible to execute something basic with research and empathy, elevating the experience got much harder. Once I realized this, my focus narrowed quickly to areas where I could be a target user. As a passionate podcast fan, this led us to audio.
There was also something that had bothered me about Recap's success from the start. It was built on getting students to talk more. To develop their voices. But we had created a new problem - not having the time to listen. Recap produced large volumes of user content, which added time to teachers and students day they simply didn't have. The more I thought about it, the more I felt like this was a problem that needed to be solved.
With this clarity, we started to pursue Synth.
How does Synth Work?
Synths are easy to discover 256 second audio or video recordings that can be assembled into interactive podcast experiences. Read about how Synth works.
Practically speaking, this means you can create a Podcast for students and teachers to contribute to like a Recap Queue or Flipgrid Grid. Then listen with the convenience of doing it while you commute, do chores and more.
The name Synth (short for synthesize) comes from how bytes of audio can be combined together into long form listening using threads and Podcasts. It also stands for what so many educators say Recap was ideal for - synthesis of learning and thinking.
What can Synth be used for?
Synth isn't just for education. New applications include realtime voice communication (AKA "Audio Twitter"), team collaboration by voice, and reinventing traditional podcasting in bytes.
For an example, check out this excellent episode of the Perseverance Podcast with Recap Pioneer and educator Chris Bronke.
At the same time, Synth is 100% intended for education.
Students have simplified accounts that are ideal for collaboration by voice, reflections, presenting evidence of their thinking and more. Read more about student applications.
Beyond the new applications, for teachers it helps you listen better to student concerns, do more regular formative assessment and collaborate with other teachers. Read more about teacher applications.
For the remainder of the semester, you can continue to use Recap. For more information on how the shut down will occur, check out the post Recap Shut Down Logistics.
Thank you for taking the time to read this far. I hope that our story helps you understand our decision and builds some interest in checking out Synth. And I look forward to the potential of working with you to make it an enduring and valuable tool for educators.