Thursday, December 17, 2015

Amidst the Holiday Hoopla, We Take Stock of a Busy 2015...


We’d like to take a break from all of our hall-decking, cheer-spreading and merry-making to say THANK YOU!


THANK YOU to all of our loyal, long-time users and also those who may have just discovered our unique and engaging educational apps. We owe much of our continued growth and success to you.


THANK YOU to our expert publisher partners whose compelling content allows our apps to shine. We are grateful for the trust that you have put in us and look forward to continuing our productive, professional relationships for many years to come.


THANK YOU to our friends and family for generously offering us your precious time, solid advice, and unwavering support throughout this year and in years past. We are grateful to have you all in our corner.


In 2015, gWhiz has continued to make great strides - breaking fresh ground in new markets and refining old favorites.


  • Through our continuing partnership with Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, we proudly ventured into the great outdoors with two new birding apps - the full-featured Peterson Birds: A Field Guide to Birds of North America and the upgradeable Peterson Backyard Birds. Offering undeniable value and unmatched portability, both apps, available for iOS and Android, have been very well received by birding enthusiasts everywhere.


  • But birders are not are only fans. We have gained a considerable following with our new Sybex series of apps, a collaborative effort with Wiley Publishing. Designed as handy reference tools, the CompTIA Network+ Study Guide and CompTIA Security+ Review Guide offer IT professionals an easy and effective method to prepare for certification exams and, ultimately, advance their careers.


  • Rounding out our offerings in medical education, we released two additional apps this year in the ever-popular Lippincott series - Emergency Nursing and NCLEX-RN. Busy nurses appreciate the ease of use and unmatched portability of these well-designed, comprehensive apps. Offering them the chance to review essential terminology in the format of their choice and at their own pace, our apps put nurses on the path to professional success!


  • Have you heard about our new study bundles? Now some of our most sought after apps are available at a discount if purchased together. Pretty cool. Because, really, who doesn’t love a sale? New in 2015 is our Dog Basics Bundle which includes three dog-centric titles from the For Dummies folks - Puppy Basics, Dog Training Basics, and Dog Trick Basics with more titles to come. So whether you are training a rambunctious new puppy or teaching a well mannered dog new tricks, this discounted bundle of apps puts everything you need to know right in the palm of your hand.


  • Also this year, we were proud to announce that, as the result of our partnership with and considerable contributions from the Educational Testing Service (ETS), we updated our popular Official GRE Guide app to be fully compliant with Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We believe that education should know no boundaries and were thrilled to take steps in that direction. Also in the realm of accessibility, we were so pleased to release Signing For Dummies in early 2015. Portable and fun-to-use, Signing For Dummies gets the whole body into the action, leading to ASL fluency in a flash!


It should be evident by now that 2015 was a busy, productive, and rewarding year - on so many levels. We love bringing new apps to life - reaching new audiences and, hopefully, opening new horizons for our many users. We hope that, in some small way, we have touched and enriched your lives as we strive to make education not only accessible but downright fun!

Happy Holidays to ALL!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Kids Headed Back to School? Four Ways to Smooth the Bumpy Road.


It’s the happ- happiest season of all….


Well, I suppose that’s all in your perspective. For most parents, the end of summer means a return to a more predictable routine. No more scrambling for activities designed to keep the kids busy and, in a perfect world, educationally engaged. Time to hand that job back to the professionals - teachers.


But for most students, summer’s wind-down means the end of carefree mornings, free-wheeling days and late nights. Hello school! And hello, too, to homework, pop-quizzes, and PE class. Sometimes it’s a lot for the little ones to take in. We get it.


We’ve done a little poking around and found that there are things that parents can do to make the return to school a little more palatable to kids. Some of these ideas are just common-sense but some may not be so obvious.


Make Sleep A Priority


This makes perfect sense. Sleep deprivation is a real phenomenon and, sadly, very common among tweens and teens. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a recent National Sleep Foundation poll showed that 59% of middle-schoolers and 87% of high-schoolers did not get the recommended 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep nightly. The AAP goes on to say that lack of sleep can lead to very serious consequences including higher rates of depression, automobile accidents, and poor academic performance among other things.


Yikes! Get those kids to bed at a decent time, even if they swear they aren’t the least bit tired. They will thank you in the morning.


Avoid Over-scheduling


Feeding into the sleep deprivation epidemic is the tendency for parents to jam pack their kids’ schedules with sports and other after-school activities. It is so easy to do. After all, we live in a busy world where everyone, including the kids, is always on the go.


To tamp down all the chaos, try limiting each child to just one extracurricular activity per semester or season. For those with big families, this can be a lifesaver and a way to save not only your sanity but also limit your carbon footprint since less chauffeuring means less gas guzzling.


Limit Screen Time


But don’t let the kids fill those extra hours up with mindless video games and cartoons. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a lot to say about screen time as well. They suggest limiting children and teens to less than 2 hours of entertainment media per day, creating screen-free zones in the house, and encouraging reading, outdoor play and other low-tech hobbies. Makes a lot of sense to us!


Of course, not all screen time is created equal. There is a place for high-quality educational media in a child’s life - whether it be phonics games, mobile flashcards, or interactive test-prep. Here at gWhiz, we offer a plethora of options when it comes to innovative, brain stimulating educational software. Our most popular app, gFlash+, has even caught the attention of the New York Times in their recent video review.  So rest easy, parents.


Open Up The Lines of Communication


Suppose you’ve done all of the above and your child’s back to school experience is still a bit rocky. Communication is the key. Sit your kids down for a good old heart to heart and try to keep it all in perspective. Make the most of the resources that surround you - your child’s teachers and guidance counselors are on your side. And remember, the great thing about life is that positive change is always right around the corner.

Good luck to all this fall!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Our Foray Into Birding: Peterson Birds - A Field Guide to Birds of North America



Hobbies.

When life gets you down or work becomes a drudge, a hobby allows you to turn the page and gain perspective. A change of scenery or focus can give your weary psyche a spiritual shot in the arm. Providing a welcome distraction from everyday tedium, a favorite pastime can be a godsend.

So it is with birding.

Nurturing the soul, it awakens so many senses - sight, sound, smell, perhaps even touch. As the outdoors beckons, it’s easy to forget about your to-do list and focus on your life list instead. For birding enthusiasts, searching for that elusive bird takes focus and determination but also brings great joy.

With the Peterson Birds app, we and the folks at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, have taken this search to a whole new level!

petersonfieldguides.pngAvailable for both iOS and Android devices, Peterson Birds puts comprehensive descriptions, full-color illustrations, bird songs, and range maps for over 800 species of North American birds right at your fingertips. With this app in your pocket, identifying and comparing birds, and even sharing your findings with friends, has never been easier.

Combining technological innovation with critical content, Peterson Birds is a must-have tool for birders of all ages and from all walks of life. Boasting an all new, easy-to-use user interface, it’s a cinch to compare similar species by sight, song, and range from one screen.

With more detail than any other mobile bird guide, the app includes information from 8 Peterson Field Guide books, including the best-selling guide to birds in print - Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America. It even syncs up with the web-based Cornell University eBird.org database so you can keep track of what’s happening in your neighborhood.

It’s a birder’s dream come true!  




Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Accessibility of Official GRE Guide Expands


Accessibility.


So important for so many reasons. For the millions of people coping with a disability, it can mean the difference between really living and merely existing.

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The everyday challenges faced by those with disabilities are many. It’s not hard to imagine that sometimes just getting from point A to point B can be a major undertaking. Navigating a world designed by and for the sighted and fully ambulatory cannot be easy.


While the transportation system is an obvious obstacle, it is not the only one. Our education system may also throw hurdles in the path of the disabled. Thankfully, the advent of new technologies is transforming the learning landscape for everyone.

We are proud to announce that, as the result of our partnership with and considerable contributions from the Educational Testing Service (ETS), we have updated our popular Official GRE Guide app to be fully compliant with Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As the makers of the test, ETS is in the unique position of providing an undeniably authentic and accurate test prep experience which is now accessible to all.


We have integrated a number of new accessibility features into the app including:


  • Support for standard VoiceOver* gestures and behaviors
  • Descriptive hints added to screen elements
  • Detailed text descriptions for all mathematical expressions and images
  • Question headers to simplify navigation
  • Description of each practice test question in practice test


* Standard VoiceOver features include:
Double tap to activate a button, including answer options, keyboard keys, etc.
Use three fingers to swipe left or right.
Drag two fingers down to read the entire page; tap two fingers to stop.
Gesture a "Z" shape with two fingers on the screen to close popups.
Rotor support


For those living with disabilities, roadblocks are a part of life. But when it comes to achieving a stellar education, there should be no barriers to success. Aligning the Official GRE Guide with the ADA is a step in this direction, and one we are proud to take.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Time Already? A Grateful Look Back at 2014...


Holiday traditions.


They can be formal and planned like hosting Christmas dinner with the whole clan. Please pass the turkey.


Or they can be fly by night and downright fun like gathering some neighbors for spontaneous caroling and hot chocolate. Yum!


Many traditions are years in the making and, some, well some just kind of happen. Here at gWhiz we use this time of year to take a step back and reflect on the year gone by. It’s our holiday tradition, and we’ve been doing it since the company was born back in 2008.


Six years and still going strong. We like to think that what we are doing - creating fun, easy-to-use educational apps for all sorts of students - is improving lives.


Here’s a look at what was new and exciting for us in 2014:


  • We dipped our toes into the pre-K market with KidZilla, a fun educational game that allows preschoolers to hone their rhyming, counting, and matching skills. Designed to give preschoolers a leg up on kindergarten, the app dazzles with full-color graphics and customizable voice narration.


  • We expanded our footprint even more with our foray into cookbooks in 2014. Proudly partnering with publishing giant, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, we released three popular titles from Betty Crocker’s Big Book Of series: Weeknight Dinners, Cookies and Cupcakes, with more to come. With these must-have apps, it’s never been easier for home cooks to plan, shop for, and whip up delicious dinners and mouth-watering desserts on the fly.


  • Recognizing the need for flexible, comprehensive study tools in the real estate education market, we worked with the folks at Dearborn to create Dearborn Modern Real Estate Education. The app provides a full multimedia experience with an audio overview, flashcards, Q&A, and video clips to drive the points home. It puts everything busy real estate professionals need to know right at their fingertips.


  • Rounding out our offerings in real estate education, we released two additional apps this year - Kaplan Real Estate Terms and Kaplan Real Estate Crossword Puzzles. Designed as handy reference tools, these apps offer users the chance to review essential terminology in the format of their choice and at their own pace. Available for both iOS and Android, these apps have the bases covered.


  • Have you heard about our new study bundles? Now some of our most sought after apps are available at a discount if purchased together. Pretty cool. Because, really, who doesn’t love a sale? Currently we’ve bundled Kaplan Real Estate Terms and Kaplan Real Estate Crossword Puzzles as well as several of our 5 Steps to a 5 AP series apps from McGraw-Hill Education.


As we continue to strike out in new directions and expand our virtual shelf space, we realize that it really does take a village. We would not be where we are today without the unwavering support of our family and friends as sounding boards, muses and constructive critics. And, of course, we are forever grateful for our loyal users who are the undisputed lifeblood of the company as well as our long-standing relationships with our publisher partners, many dating back to the company’s inception in 2008. The compelling, branded content available in many of our apps is vital to our continued success. We look forward to new horizons and continued growth in the new year.


So, THANK YOU from the whole gWhiz team and…

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Study. Test. Repeat.



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Okay, so this seems like a recipe for eye-glazing, body-slumping boredom. But research has shown that the best way to learn and retain information is by studying it once and then revisiting it later. Reviewing the material in short study sessions, taking a break, and then returning to it seems to be the best approach for long-term retention. A New York Times article cites research by Henry L. Roediger III, a psychologist at Washington University in St. Louis, who determined that a short study session followed by a practice test in a subsequent study session led to better test scores in the long run.


Isn’t that interesting?


So it turns out that testing yourself after studying for short periods is a highly effective way to lodge the information into your brain. Last minute studying and cram sessions have a place in boosting scores on tests that may have crept up on you. But for building a long-term knowledge base, look to shorter, targeted bursts of learning with a healthy dose of self-assessment thrown in.


Luckily, today’s students - whether in primary or secondary school, college or even grad school - have a plethora of options when it comes to learning. The advent of the smartphone and tablet era has meant big changes to traditional study methods.


Pen and paper are so yesterday.


Technology is redefining the educational landscape; that is an indisputable fact. While collaborative resources like Google Drive and Moodle facilitate learning as a community, many educational apps go even further to combine studying with customizable self-assessment tools.

In fact, educational apps in every subject under the sun let you study on your own time and at your own pace. Specifically, many flashcard and test prep apps from gWhiz, including gFlash+ and PrepZilla, allow you to review critical content and then test your knowledge by turning that content into a quiz. Apps like these let you turn that Study, Test, Repeat mantra into reality.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Guest Post: Mobile Web App Developers Breathe New Life Into Old-School E-Learning Platforms

Academic commercial and education industries around the nation understand the benefit of integrating uncomplicated, e-Learning systems into their collection of educational applications. Such resources help broaden the influence of education and learning way past the entrances of collegiate institutions by offering learners and their professors some straightforward connectivity to education content.

That being said, it is not a surprise that these very same organizations would attempt to deliver their web-based learning platforms into the hands of the twenty-first century student. Yet, among the dilemmas that many web-app service providers face today is how to discover effective ways to take their well sought-after PC/MAC learning programs and relocate them to mobile solutions, which is exactly what the majority of young, on-the-go adults work with to obtain their information.


Four-fifths (eighty-two percent) of new university and college students own a smartphone and at least twenty-percent have a tablet.


Cell phones, tablet computers, netbooks and notebooks are the mobile gadgets that folks use to devote their free time in learning. Unfortunately, the smaller-sized displays and diverse functions in these devices often restrict what can be accomplished on a mobile platform. 


Repositioning Education Technology from Old-School to Cutting-Edge

There are various e-Learning platforms out there that have embraced the challenge of going mobile; despite the fact that these old-school apps were not exclusively produced with mobile in mind, these programs have succeeded in transferring a comparable user interface onto miniature portable devices.

Blackboard: One of the oldest e-Learning platforms offered, which reaches millions of online learners, instructors and educators around the world. This app’s well-known discussion boards, blogs, and e–mail accounts launched for PC in 1998, and they are now available on Blackboard Mobile.

E-College: An extremely-popular, easy-to-use learning portal that provides a virtual-learning environment by managing, developing and hosting e-Learning software applications for institutions, colleges and universities. This technology hit Mac computers in 1998, and it’s now launching a new mobile solution remedy.

Moodle: One cannot think about online-education course management without considering Moodle. This electronic-learning setting has become very popular among educators around the globe for conducting online degree programs. The platform runs on any computing machine, and it is now a cross-platform app with the launch of Moodle Mobile.


Mobile App Developers Save The Day

Websites like Degree Jungle for mobile began to break the ice by putting web-based learning platforms in layman’s terms for students to locate quickly. The e-Learning systems and apps mentioned above had no notion fifteen years ago that mobile would take on such an important role in the survival of their business.

It wasn't until shortly after app development companies like gWhiz began introducing hundreds of highly rated, online education platforms on countless iPod, iPhone & iPad, Android systems that the old-school, e-Learning organizations began to take notice.
 

Major educational publishers began to see the value in developing partnerships with independent mobile software developers like gWhiz. Entrusting their valuable content to innovative developers led publishers like McGraw-Hill, Kaplan, and Pearson to expand their reach beyond traditional channels. And even though some may allege that the traditional e-Learning platforms on smart device browsers are a less than ideal experience; evolving innovation assures that more satisfying user interfaces are en route.

We hope you've enjoyed this guest post from our friends at Degree Jungle.