Sibme has been in the works now for a couple of years, and has been entirely self-funded. Just like building a great school or becoming a great teacher, building Sibme has been a total team effort. We couldn’t have done it without hard core technologists and a great designer, since the three of us are teachers. What started as an idea was iterated on many times, and will continue to evolve and get better in the future. Nothing is ever perfect, and for most things in life it takes a lot of trial and error to get it mostly right.
These past two years, we have looked at what has worked in not only education but other industries as well. Productivity software is really difficult to make well and even harder to get people to use on a regular basis. We do know that a lot of software in education is junk and doesn’t really take into consideration the problem it’s trying to solve. If it’s too difficult to use or it takes too long to learn, then it probably will never be adopted, unless, of course, you are forced into using it like most software built for schools.
Here at Sibme, we don’t like a lot of fluff. As Dave’s old high school football coach always said to his players, “Keep it Simple Stupid.” Software features are important but when you really think about applications people use like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Excel, how many features do most teachers and students really need or even use in these applications? This is why we pared down the features and made Sibme flexible and customizable. Like most things, here at Sibme we believe the way to become a better teacher is through practice and watching each other teach. It almost seems too simple, but it isn’t.
There’s no linear path to solving human problems like teaching and learning. A great teacher is like a great chef or artist. They understand their content and the science of pedagogy, but they also recognize and understand the intangibles and adapt to their environment. For instance, you don’t necessarily teach every class the same, even it’s the same grade-level or subject, and you certainly don’t teach all your students the same.
We need to embrace diversity and not be overly obsessed with standardizing all things in education, except maybe the copy machines and the coffee maker. We tend to think that excellence can be replicated on a massive scale. Excellence, though, is relative and incredibly difficult to achieve. We understand that excellence in your work takes years, not days or months.
We know at Sibme we have a long way to go to be excellent, but we are working hard everyday to become excellent. Schools need to do the same, and that’s why we built a tool to help teachers more easily and efficiently collaborate around the instruction going on in their buildings: “Huddles.” We also added a feature that allows your school, district or education-related organization to create a custom video library of instructional best practices that can be tagged, organized, and searched.
Without making this process efficient, it’s hard to collaborate and build a video library for your school, which is why we built a native iOs app and soon to be Android app that is integrated with the Swivl, a personal cameraman that allows you to capture better video and quickly upload to the Sibme platform or Huddle you are working in.
We don’t provide you all the answers, and we hope you remain skeptical of many people who try to tell you how to do your job. Sibme is a valuable tool to hopefully make you more productive, so you can learn from each other and grow together.
Dave, Dan and Rob