Yopine Opines: Blackboard, ask.fm, & Crazy Rich Guys

Maryann Chan - Yopine

Introducing xpLor, Blackboard’s Newest Platform

Blackboard Inc. is an international enterprise technology company and leader in education technology (ed tech), headquartered in Washington D.C. Lately, it has felt growing pressure to keep up with new, innovative competitors like Instructure which is quickly gaining ground in the domain of educational software. A few weeks ago, Blackboard Inc. announced the release of their newest content platform, xpLor. Following suit with the movement toward cloud computing, xpLor allows for content creating and sharing like no other tool for learning management systems (LMS). The platform brings with it the ease of searching for, subscribing to, and following content. Moreover and most importantly, it places tools in the hands of educators to be more effective in teaching our youth.

A few weeks ago, we described the benefits of Yopine in academia. There are many opportunities for Yopine*edu whether they be in-class polling and opinion gathering, course evaluations, or rating content through xpLor. As educational enterprises are going through so many transformations, integration with learning management systems will be a key business initiative for Yopine.


Ask.fm: Curiosity that Killed the Kids?

Successful Latvian startup ask.fm has been facing criticism about its contribution to cyber-bullying. While startups often have troubles with issues such as sufficient funding or lack of customers, ask.fm has been experiencing an overwhelming amount of misuse of the website and mobile app. Since its predominantly young users can respond to questions anonymously, many askers have received offensive and explicit answers. Some people are even focusing on obtaining scandalous submissions. One ask.fm account, Hudson Confessions, has stirred up quite a commotion in a Hudson, Ohio high school. Unknown moderators share the posts sent in by anonymous students on Twitter. Although students have been advised to refrain from reading the tweets that include insults, gossip, and secrets, the amount of continued activity is telling of the site’s dangerously addictive nature. Some reports have even charged ask.fm of contributing to acts of suicide.

The tragic news is, unfortunately, not surprising as I browse other Q&A platforms. Instead of looking for answers and advice, there is a large amount of “rate me”, “smash or pass”, and statements with question marks attached to the end. Shallow questions often lead to shallow responses and can take over any opinion-gathering app or website. Moreover, commenting capabilities contain, more often than not, sexual content and hurtful opinions, which can be particularly damaging to young users. The rise of the Internet and advancements in technology have created several conveniences in our lives, including hiding behind masks of anonymity. Even with censors and banned words, it is easy to get around the parameters. With photo capabilities coming to Yopine, we understand the need for posts to be monitored so that they do not compromise the integrity of the app. It will be an interesting challenge to stay on track of not becoming a “hot or not” app when the photo features of so many polling apps are being abused.


A Plebian’s Take on Apps for the 1%

TechCrunch recently released a list of “Apps for the 1%” which featured apps that only the wealthy would find use for in their lives. At first I was relieved that they, at least, had more purpose than the I Am Rich app that (also known as the I Am A Pompous Jerk app), but most of them are still a little too pretentious for me. I have the same feelings about this list as I do with shopping filters that let you arrange search results by price, highest to lowest: Why?

Tiffany & Co. Engagement Ring Finder and Sotheby’s Catalogue
Do you really need an app to make a once (or twice or maybe even thrice) in a lifetime purchase? Similarly, how often does a house need to be redecorated and filled with expensive artwork?

This app allows spontaneous rich people to stay in other rich people’s houses while they are gone from home (probably at some other rich person’s house). I would question how this service is sustainable when theft, security, and maintenance and replenishment of a household are taken into consideration.

VIP Black
This is a $1000 app that provides discounts and offers into VIP areas. If you can spend $1000 on an app, are you really concerned about discounts?

Okay, it’s really not up to me to say that there’s not some rich guy that makes multiple proposals, shops for artwork as often as the 99% shop for shoes, and needs to save a buck for every hundred spent. Maybe I just can’t relate to the needs of that fraction of society. I can only hope that the people who use these apps aren’t like this kid .