Prepd is determined to finish 2016 with a bang. The Prepd Team just released several major new features. The most notable among them, at least from Extemp Central’s perspective, is the News Feed – an auto-filing solution that automatically pulls articles from 21 different news sources.
The News Feed helps extempers succeed in several different ways:
1) It levels the playing field for smaller extemp clubs or individual competitors, who may feel they are at a disadvantage relative to larger programs with more filing capacity.
2) It helps new teams transition to Prepd, because they’ll immediately have access to tens of thousands of research files.
3) The News Feed is a fast way of saving articles into Prepd for long-term storage. If an article stays in the News Feed, it’s automatically deleted after two months. But if an article is saved to a Prepd app, the article will be there forever (or until it is manually deleted).
4) The News Feed covers any research gaps that an extemper may have, so extempers will never have to worry about not having evidence on obscure topic areas.
“Through feedback surveys and conversations with coaches and students, we learned that there was strong interest in an auto-filing service among our customers,” Prepd founder, Ian Panchèvre, states in a release. “But we also heard valid concerns about how such a feature should be implemented. We are building technology that enhances the educational value of the activity; we don’t want to undermine individual reading and research efforts.”
To that end, the Prepd Team made certain product decisions that allow the News Feed to constructively contribute to Prepd’s education technology.
For one, since news articles are purged after two months (or fewer, if coaches adjust the time period in their Team Settings page), it would be unwise to strictly rely on the News Feed for all of one’s research. Purging the auto-filed articles encourages students to save articles from the News Feed into a Prepd app (Library, Extemp, or Congress) for long-term storage.
Second, the Prepd Team released another major feature earlier in December: Prepd now tracks and visualizes reading activity in the Dashboard. When reading an article, students can select the “Mark as Read” button at the bottom of the article view. The feature then presents one of five comprehension exercises. These activities are not meant to be difficult or time-consuming (they should only take a minute or two to complete), but they force students to pause, internalize what they just read, think critically about it, and then articulate some sort of insight.
Once an article has been marked as read, the student’s reading activity and answers to the comprehension exercise are displayed on their user profile, accessible through the Dashboard.
“Visualizing reading activity helps coaches monitor their team’s research efforts and provides insights into how students absorb news content,” Panchèvre explains. “It’s another metric, in addition to overall filing activity, that coaches can use to manage their team and maintain accountability.”