Thursday, July 10, 2014

What We're up to Lately..

Summer is in full swing and here at FastFig we are staying true to our name and movin’ on forward… fast! Here’s a little peek into what we’re working on...


Building our Staff: Welcome to our two new interns Sharon and Evan! Sharon, our Communications and Growth intern is working to amp up both our online and offline presence in the edtech community. Evan, our development intern is coding up a storm, working on everything from mobile device optimization to future products!

IMG_2366 - Version 3.jpg

FigPad, coming soon: Get ready, get set, FigPad is almost here! Our dev team has been working hard to release FigPad. ‘scratch paper’ for online math and engineering exams. So what’s the big deal? Currently in the online math testing industry there is no efficient way to capture math students’ thought processes.  Many students are asked to literally rip up their scratch paper in front of a webcam to assure that there are no stray copies of a test. FigPad creates a new level of security for math testing. Student work is captured, saved, and locked/hidden for later review. 


Connecting with Teachers: This summer we are talking to educators to learn more about how FastFig is used, and how it can be used more effectively.  Have you used FastFig? Let us know how you think it’s best used in the classroom. 


and as always, follow us on Twitter @fastfig - we love connecting to the edtech community via Twitter!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Power of Learning Tools for Girls in STEM

July 3rd marks the start of the International Math Olympiad. As math fanatics around the world amp up for the so-called World Cup of Mathematics, a looming concern exists: Less than 10 percent of IMO participants are female.  How can we bridge the gender gap in STEM fields?


For the past several years, this concern has surfaced over and over again in international dialogue regarding education, international development, and women’s rights. While it has become obvious that employment in STEM fields is essential for global economic development, girls and women are increasingly underrepresented. In a US study on women in STEM, researchers found that in the past 29 years the percentage of young women earning computer science degrees has dropped from 37% to 18%. This is a small but telling anecdote of the issue.


Edudemic, a maven in online edtech know-how puts it well: “how do we get more girls interested in STEM subjects and get them feeling confident that they can rock out in awesome, fun, high-paying, important and interesting careers that are still largely dominated by men?” Innovative leaders around the world are tackling this issue from many angles. Many organizations aim to create female focused events and competitions. For example, on June 23, 2014 Chelsea Clinton hosted From STEM to Success, an event focused on encouraging girls to enter STEM fields. Others promote solutions like STEM mentorships and STEM camps. Here at FastFig, we are passionate about embracing STEM learning tools!


In the spirit of inspiring learning tools, here are 4 tools that are rocking the STEM game for girls:


1. Roominate:  “Buildable Dollhouses for Girls” What a genius rethinking of dollhouses!

2. Engineer Girl  an easy way for girls to connect directly to professionals in STEM fields

3. Sci Girls social network for girls with STEM interests

4. Design Squad a lively series of STEM games and how-tos


In the coming months our team at FastFig plans to continue our efforts to promote and encourage girls in STEM! Ideas? Let us know: info@fastfig.com


Follow us on Twitter for updates on these efforts!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fresh FastFig for the New Year

Today we're very excited to release a brand new version of FastFig with some great new features for you to enjoy.
  1. A Fresh New Interface — You'll immediately notice FastFig looks completely different. We listened to your feedback and switched the notebook interface to a traditional file tree system.  Don't worry, all of your documents are still there, they are now in a folder under the name of the notebook.  Plus, making new documents and adding folders has never been easier.
  2. Photo Editing — We integrated the  Aviary  photo editor into FastFig so that you can edit pictures right in FastFig.  You can add effects, create borders, crop, resize, rotate, adjust brightness and contrast and much, much more!
  3. Videos — We heard from many of your that videos would be a great addition to a FastFig document and we agree!  By clicking the video button in the toolbar, you can add YouTube, Vimeo, and TeacherTube videos! You can use this for lesson videos, instructional videos or just plain fun videos.
  4. Greek Letters — We added a full set of greek letters to the keyboard, just click the Σ button in the upper left of the keyboard header or swipe all the way to the right on mobile.   Pro-tip:  You can type the names of greek letters into an equation and they will automatically convert to their symbol.  If you capitalize the first letter it will be uppercase, if you don't it will be lower case. i.e. "Delta" becomes Δ and "delta" becomes δ.
  5. FastFig Web Embedding — You can now easily embed FastFig document in your own website, blog or anything that supports HTML embeds.  All you have to do is hit the share button in the top right of the toolbar and click "Embed" and copy and paste the HTML code into your webpage or blogging software.
Thanks so much to all of our users for providing the feedback that made this possible!

Take a look:  FastFig.com

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Software as a Product: Behind the Switch to FastFig Notebooks

The end of summer has been one of change for FastFig's interface. We've revamped not just the look and feel of the program, but the way our customers buy it and what they own when they buy.

On the consumer side, FastFig moved away from the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, and allows users to buy notebooks of pages on which to take notes and do assignments. Given how just about every software revenue model in the world has moved toward getting some type of recurring monthly fees, we understand this might come as a surprise. Here's why we zagged rather than zigged:
  • Customers - We follow the customer development practice of listening. A lot. What we heard from customers was that individuals use FastFig in a number of ways, but they preferred to pay for what they used, rather than a monthly fee. The more we thought about it, the more sense this made. People have been buying notebooks for a very long time, and the one-time purchase is a model with which they're comfortable.
  • Access - We wanted to make sure that everyone had access to FastFig functionality on every device, no matter the level of usage. Restricting that based on payment tier seemed against our greater mission of becoming the standard way math communication is handled. So now everyone can get all of our individual functionality for free to use, and can buy more as they need.
  • It didn't reflect our value or our values - It's great for a business to have recurring monthly income, regardless of whether the customer is using the product or not (just ask my Netflix account). And, if the business is mostly providing storage (like iCloud or Dropbox), that makes sense, since the customer is almost always using it. But FastFig is a primarily a tool, and so pricing it like a service felt a little off. This way, customers only pay for what they use.
Of course, those were some of the more philosophical reasons. As with all things, there were some practical considerations as well that had to do with our business.
    • Virality - By treating the pages in the notebooks as the purchased item, we give ourselves the flexibility to drive behavior by rewarding customers with more pages. The same way Dropbox can give you a few extra megs for tweeting about them, we can reward sharing and payment with concrete things that have a real value to users.
    • Separating markets - Schools and firms that use FastFig in more structured settings can still get licenses for expanded use that incorporates student information systems, teacher dashboards, and unlimited usage; for them, the monthly/annual license structure makes sense.
    • Retail - As retailers look to move more into the digital realm, hybrid products that can be sold online or in stores are becoming more sought after. By selling notebooks, we can create packaging that works on store shelves, helping increase our brand awareness and develop relationships with strategic channel partners (and saving customers from having to buy a calculator!).

    Some concept work for FastFig retail packaging
    As we charge forward into the school year, we're excited to have a more robust and customer-friendly product for both individuals and organizations. It's been a summer filled with lots of work, but we think it's been well worth it, and we can't wait to get more students and teachers involved in using FastFig.

    Monday, July 1, 2013

    FastFig Updates bring teachers tools for all levels

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE

    New teacher-driven features allow more control and more seamless math experience

    PHILADELPHIA, June 27, 2013– In its ongoing mission to make math painless for students and educators, education technology startup FastFig released powerful new features yesterday that give teachers increased control.

    “For us, the priority is always making sure that teachers and students have the best tool possible,” said FastFig Founder and CTO Brian Peacock.

    By soliciting steady feedback from the thousands of teachers, students and professionals that currently use FastFig, Peacock and the team were able to focus on a few important features that would give teachers the power and flexibility to use the program at more levels of math. Educators using FastFig liked how easy it was to use with plain language, compared with some of the other, more expensive code-based math programs, and the new update expands that capability to all levels of math.

    “We wanted to make FastFig the default choice for educators whenever they need to show math to their students,” Peacock said. “For that, we knew it had to look like real math that a student might turn in on a piece of paper.”

    The update also allows FastFig Premium members to turn off the program’s solving engine, so that teachers who want to can monitor every step of a student’s problem solving.

    For the past two months, the FastFig platform has gone through steady improvement, leading to the release of FastFig Premium in May.

    The story of FastFig began two years ago, when Peacock was an engineering student with insufficient tools. “All of the math software my school purchased was incredibly difficult to use so we just didn’t use them,” Peacock said. The tools also required that he be at one computer – not using multiple devices the way he and his classmates all did regularly. Finding himself constantly working with pen, paper and calculator, he decided there had to be a better way, and began teaching himself to code so he could create FastFig.

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    FastFig, “The Word Processor for Math,” does to the calculator what the word processor did to the typewriter. Our platform pairs a powerful math engine with a proprietary, patent-pending user interface that intelligently determines if a user is typing math or text and formats it accordingly, solving basic math, through algebra all the way up to calculus. Collaborative tools allow users to save their notes on any device, share them with others around the world, and print or export easily. FastFig was funded by the prestigious DreamIt Ventures as part of their inaugural Austin program in 2013. We’ve been featured in places like the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Business Insider and Technically Philly, and is consistently one of the top utility apps in the Google Chrome Appstore.

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    If you would like more information about FastFig, please contact Jay Hotaling at email at:
     jay @ fastfig.com.