I want to build an app. And I need your help in creating it. I know you may think, “He’s not talking about me”, but yes, I am talking about you (if you are reading this post) and I really need your input!

I’m a project person. I love tackling problems through a project format and creating solutions that can help not only myself, but other teachers and educators around the world.

Here’s my problem:

Most professional development is in either a long-form, planned ahead, structured manner (ex: conferences, workshops, courses, sessions, books)….or in a very short-form, unstructured, in the moment manner (ex: Twitter chats, blog posts, youtube videos, etc).

I’d like teachers in my school to have access to something in the middle. Well thought out, structured, professional learning that is also in bite-size chunks that can be used on demand when needed.

Is that too much to ask for? 🙂

A Idea for a Solution From a Fitness App

A few months ago I ran across an article that was popping up everywhere online. It was a follow-up piece from “The Scientific 7-Minute Workout” that had been extremely popular from the NY Times in 2013.

This article was about the “7-Minute Workout” App created by the authors of the article, and it was going viral. It seems everyone loved the short, quick, and easy to do workout…especially because it was “scientifically” backed up!

And then, just a couple weeks ago I read an article by Daniel Coyle (author of The Talent Code) titled, “How to Make Learning Addictive”, in which he writes:

I’m about the ten-millionth person to make this point, but wouldn’t it be great if we could learn everything as fast and efficiently as we learn video games? If we could learn to play violin or write computer code as quickly as we learn Madden or Halo?

With that in mind, here’s a video-game term that might apply: replay value. It refers to how much a user wants to play a game over and over. You know the feeling — the irresistible itch to repeat a game just one more time, and just one more time after that (Angry Birds, anybody?).

I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if there was an App with the same “replay value” and simplicity of the 7 Min Workout for Professional Learning. I know…crazy idea.

But, then I went a bit farther into thinking about how this could actually happen.

  • I’d need an App that functions similar to the 7 Min Workout.
  • I’d need short videos on all different types of professional learning for teachers.
  • I’d need a way to track all of this and share how much we were learning.
  • I’d need a method to get feedback and improve it (especially while designing it).

This is my type of inquiry-based learning and this is my form of problem-based learning. I love doing this type of work. But, I’m only one person and I’m limited. I really need your help!

I want to make this idea a reality, and I think we can do it together. I’m sharing the initial designs I mocked up for the App idea, and have THREE questions at the bottom of this post to help me get to the next step. Give me some feedback in the comments, or as always you can email me!

Here’s what it looks like so far..

Mockups of The “7 Min PD” App Idea

7min.menu_iphone6plus_gold_portrait 7min.complete_iphone6plus_gold_portrait 7min.calendar_iphone6plus_gold_side2 7min.sessions_iphone6plus_gold_portrait 7min.settings_iphone6plus_gold_portrait 7min.tracking_iphone6plus_gold_side1So here is where I need your help the most in the comments section of this post. Could you give me suggestions and feedback on these three areas:

1. What should be the name of the App? I’m starting with “7 Min PD” because of the connection to the 7 Min Workout app…but that could be changed easily. Another name I’ve thrown around has been “Pocket PD” – but I’m not sure PD should even be in the name (give me some help with this one!).

2. How long should the videos be? Again I’m starting with the idea of 7 minute videos based on the connection to the 7 minute workout, but we could make them be 5 minutes or 3 minutes (I do think it is important for them to be short).

3. Would you be willing to send me a video (once we have the length down) to put on the App? I’ve got to create it with some awesome content to start, and I know the work all of you are doing has impressed me tremendously. Just think about it. I’d love to get as many videos as possible for the release!

Ok, that’s it. Planning on writing another update next week on this app adventure!

Photo via Mashable


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  • Julie Jacobs says:

    This is a fantastic idea! Let me know how I can help or what I can contribute. I can’t wait to hear more about how this progresses.

    • AJ Juliani says:

      Thanks Julie! Would love to hear your thoughts on name and how long the videos should be 🙂

      • Hi AJ, congratulations on the idea and I’m loving how your opening it up for us to get involved. I’ve gone ahead and edited a 30+ minute interview I did recently with Dara Feldman, US Teacher & Education Author, where we discussed Virtues and Character Education in some depth… I’ve cut the long version into 5 Short Videos, each between 2 and 7 minutes, and each with a specific theme.
        This original interview was based on the topic of Dara’s book ‘The Heart of Education’ which I read thoroughly before talking with her. It’s amazing how breaking down a 30 min interview has shown me, at least, what range we covered in the conversation. If these 5 videos are of interest for your project feel free to incorporate them. We can maybe see what people following this think of them? Are they worth a few minutes of a teachers time? Here’s a link to the play-list: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7MZmDNGy5-wteBdl8jJHC3KExwciqFIN

  • How about having either a short quiz after each video and/or an action item/goal (there could be options, or you create your own). After you enter in your action item/goal you choose a follow up date or dates at which the app will ask if you have followed through. If you have you will earn more points. If you haven’t you get the choice to either rewrite your action item/goal or drop it, though you will lose more points if you choose to drop it. Small actionable goals lead to big change long-term.

    Another thought is that perhaps the app helps you to find a “mastermind group” or accountability group/partner that checks in with you on your goals and progress. This would also encourage follow through.

    • AJ Juliani says:

      Hey Bryan, love the idea about some action items or goals after the video is done. Also wondering if there is a way to make groups so you could do it as a school, PLC, or Mastermind.

      Great suggestions, keep em coming!

  • OMG…I love it. And I’m alternately dying to help you and jealous I’m not on your team! I’m going to give your 3 questions some thought and I’ll be in touch! 🙂

  • Jacoby Young says:

    I hope it’s not redundant, but I recommend checking out something like Blinkist that condenses non-fiction books into the main takeaways. In their words, they claim to “distill their key insights into powerful, actionable, 15-minute marvels.” I have found them to be very enjoyable and bite-sized. Might fit well with your mission of this app.

    P.S. If you are not averse to horrible puns for a name, “Speedee.” ; )

  • Hilaa says:

    Love your idea of this app!!! I can totally see it going viral.
    I’m just throwing out this random thought…how about for each course you have a Kath Murdoch’s inquiry cycle to structure PD. That will also give ourselves the opportunity not just to tune in to our prior knowledge but also pay attention to our misconceptions. You can also build in VT Routines (Connect-Extend-Challenge for example). Also have some kind of built-in collaboration in there, personally I feel we learn best bouncing ideas off each other. Above all resist the temptation of getting PD just for the heck of it. That would mean coming back even after completing the 3/5/7 minute PD and getting inspired and challenging ourselves further.
    Oh and I also love Bryan’s and your idea of having school groups, PLC or Mastermind. Waiting to hear more about this.

  • Rachael says:

    I like pocket PD because…

    Which teachers have 7 spare minutes a day? If I had that long in a school day I might eat my lunch on time!!

    I am writing from Australia, happy to share videos if it suited your PD
    learning outcomes. 🙂

    Piggybacking on others comments, love the idea of linking to professional goals and for us here it would be great to link to our professional teaching standards. Or perhaps a school could purchase a subscription to it then put on the content they want to push to staff?
    Why limit it to staff? Senior kids or parents may have their own targeted videos if the school had control of what we were sending out.

    Hope that helps

  • Christy Post says:

    What a great idea. I like the idea of a quiz or some type of follow up after the video. Maybe also if possible have a list of additional resources if someone wants to dig deeper than the initial short video? It would also be great to maybe once a person uses it enough to have it personalize and recommend additional videos based on their use and perceived preferences. I am not sure if that would be possible or not.

    I would love to help in any way I can. What an exciting idea.

  • Mike says:

    I think this is a great idea! The only PD I see that makes a difference comes regularly, in short pieces like you describe.

    I don’t have any names coming to mind, but I like Pocket PD. I suggest something that ties it into education, though, if you’re thinking of it specifically for teachers.

    I’d be glad to help with some videos. I suggest keeping them around 5 minutes, with 7 minutes being the maximum length.

  • I also am crazy about this idea! Training sites like lynda.com are too broad in scope and too expensive. They also offer no way to connect with other people or form learning groups. I love Brian’s idea of action items or goals – that way PD is not watched and forgotten. Could there be some kind of game-like fun or competition to encourage people to use it?

  • I would love to help out with this endeavor. I will give your questions some more thought and hopefully have some answers for you in the near future. Great idea!

  • John Bennett says:

    Fantastic idea. Look forward to using it, recommending it, and hopefully contributing to it. Your questions:

    1. How about “PD That Works – Honest!!!

    2. Suggest “About 7 Minutes” or “Maximum of 10 (or 15) Minutes” similar to TED – where it is less than some value depending upon the time needed.

    3. I have a number of videos I’ve been wanting to record. Presuming I do record them, I’d be pleased to have them considered.

    Just asking: Is this essentially a more focussed TED-Ed?

  • Aimee Bartis says:

    I like the name 7 min PD. It’s focused and tells people exactly what they are in for.
    I definitely think the videos should be no more than 10 minutes long and have a call to action. I also think you could build an online community of users to come back and share their experiences of action. What worked? What didn’t work? What questions do you have after you’ve attempted implementation? The video teachers could help in these communities.
    I think it would be great to have a roll out schedule. New tech lessons post on Mondays, Project Based learning lessons on Tuesday, Blended learning on Wednesday, 4Cs on Thursday and Grab Bag on Friday.
    I would love to help in any way I can.
    I look forward to following your progress!

  • Diane McCormack says:

    Bytes of Learning
    Seven minutes is more than I will watch. Shoot for 5 or fewer.

  • James says:

    Having used the 7-minute Workout app pretty frequently, I would prefer “Pocket PD.” The 7MW app is repetitive, the goal is to condense a workout into twelve sets drawn out over seven minutes.

    The goal of your app is different: quick, intense bursts of professional development–the kind that a teacher group could do independently once a week/month and then discuss or put into action during lunch or PLC time (there isn’t enough of either as you know).

    I prefer the name “Pocket PD,” and I absolutely love the idea.

  • Jill Canillas Daley says:

    -I LOVE this idea!!!!!! Because I love “horrible” puns, Speedee, is awesome.
    – I think videos 3-10 minutes would work the best.
    – Is there some way to tag so that you can pick and choose relevant to your curriculum content and could podcasts (for car rides) be implemented? Also can LinkedIn be another place to share? An extension off this, and perhaps this is not the place, is adding a category for infographs, that support what is learned. I love having access to those to print and post in the teacher’s room to inspire staff ( and occasionally students). For me it is the note-taking version of a PD session.
    – Would love to participate in this. GREAT IDEA!

  • Excellent idea – my students built a PD website this semester for our core content with many of your ideas in mind. http://www.thertroom.weebly.com Would love to be involved however I might be most helpful. I have experience in producing podcasts and green screen instructional videos!

  • Bryan Whitney says:

    Adding to / combining earlier comments, some possible names could be:

    Pocket Ed PD (combining Pocket PD and Education)
    7 Minute Ed PD

    Also, if this were a monthly or yearly subscription (for individual teachers and/or districts) perhaps a certain percentage of profits could be shared amongst content providers (those who create videos) based upon actual video usage. This could be based upon monthly profits and usage of videos by users. This could encourage more (and perhaps better) content while also compensating (even if only a little- I know most educators are happy even if it’s not much. Every little bit counts.) content creators.

    Either way, I love the idea! I think it has great traction.

  • Simon Youd says:

    Great idea and sharing A.J.
    Name suggestion, Professional Learning on top.
    Or PL on tap.
    Will be watching progress and looking forward to what you do with great interest.

  • Melanie Eisen says:

    I love this idea- I love your podcasts and wonder whether the 2 could be linked- If you were using the flow pieces you did- could the app display an idea, a question to ask, an activity to try, a point to focus on that teachers can have pop up to add to their lessons that day- I think the shortness of the pieces can help teachers see how to bring the bigger ideas to their thinking-

  • Carol G. says:

    Wow, so many great ideas. I like the name Pocket PD, and I have to agree with anyone who said 5 minutes is best, I don’t have time for anything longer. Another idea is tie it to professional goals, yes, that’s great…or tie it to which skills (common core?) you are teaching/working on. I’m happy to contribute videos.

  • Anne Robinson says:

    This is a great idea and I am excited at the how this could really help me and my team. We have noticed how the short (20 minutes or less) PD experiences make a real difference for educators on site – so having an even smaller chunk that teachers could use daily would be even more supportive. I like the whole concept and the ideas of those who commented. As far as names go “Pocket PD” is easily burned into memory – I also like that you are creating it to be very personal – with individual goals, etc. You could consider building that into the name – so that people know it can become an app that grows with them – example “PD 4 Me” or “My Pocket PD”

    You may have this arleady featured – but it would be helpful if the app gave the user the opportunity to request support on specific topics – this would appeal to your first year teacher and your veterans.

  • Anne Robinson says:

    This is a great idea and I am excited at the how this could really help me and my team. We have noticed how the short (20 minutes or less) PD experiences make a real difference for educators on site – so having an even smaller chunk that teachers could use daily would be even more supportive. I like the whole concept and the ideas of those who commented. As far as names go “Pocket PD” is easily burned into memory – I also like that you are creating it to be very personal – with individual goals, etc. You could consider building that into the name – so that people know it can become an app that grows with them – example “PD 4 Me” or “My Pocket PD”

    You may have this already featured – but it would be helpful if the app gave the user the opportunity to request support on specific topics – this would appeal to your first year teachers and your veterans.

  • I love this idea! Heinemann has an app that is simply called Tips. At my school we have regular PD sessions taught by teachers and our principal calls them SIPS or sips of PD because they’re 30 minutes in length. I like SIPS myself or TtT (Teachers teaching Teachers).

    I love the idea of short videos, maybe 3 – 5 minutes in length demonstrating some specific strategy. Jennifer Gonzalez, over at Cult of Pedagogy, does this really well.

    And, yes! I would love to send you a short video about a classroom routine or strategy that I find effective in the classroom.

  • José M. Blázquez says:

    Hi all,

    Here is a contribution by a father, not a teacher 🙂
    The general purpose of the application and its connection to videogames reminds me to Duolingo, a mobile app to learn languages. It has small pills of knowledge and it offers the user the possibility of creating daily goals, so that she can get motivated as she reaches upper levels.

    The best contribution I can offer at this point is some techniques I teach in the companies I work with to define new products. These techniques are based on the “User Story Mapping” created by Jeff Patton and in the “Lean Startup” model ideated by Eric Ries.

    Basically, the first step is to identify and prioritize the goals of the product, the benefits it will provide to the users. Next, we identify the users and try to describe the different usages of the application they will do. The next step is not the creation of the application. We have to test our hypotheses beforehand. This means we can create low fidelity mockups to be validated with real users.

    Once we validate this and confirm the problem we want to solve exists, and the solution we offer is the one our users need, we can proceed to create the application. There are more things to consider if we plan to make money with this in terms of business model validation, but I think this is not part of the conversation.


  • Love this idea. It’s pretty much exactly what we have been talking about trying to create in our school.
    I like the idea of multiple length videos: 3-5 mins is ideal but have some 15 minute for when you need just a little more depth (no longer than 15.)
    I’m stuck on the name “pocket PD” I think it’s a winner.

  • Jon Harper says:

    AJ what a cool idea. I would love to contribute in some way. I would be willing to create a video if you need one. I am not sure the topic, but would be glad to help. I think the most popular apps and catchy apps are ones with one word titles like Twitter, Voxer and Nuzzel. What about Vids?

  • Really cool idea!
    As someone else suggested, I like sPeeDy (with the PD capitalized) or what about instead of Pocket PD, PockEd PD?
    I would say 5-7 minutes for the videos.
    What type of content do you need for the videos?

  • 1. Love the name Pocket PD. It has a great ring to it!

    2. Shoot for 3-5 min videos, it has to match the name of the app. if someone wants to know more about a topic/product/etc they’lol research it.

    3. I’d love to help out and I know I could put together a group of people at my school that would love to do this as well!

  • Nita Luthria says:

    What a superb idea! Very exciting.

  • Heidi says:

    Absolutely incredible idea and yes, I would be willing to help. I think 5-7 min videos are a fantastic idea.

  • C Tate says:

    Such a neat idea! 7 min is great! Pocket PD is a catchy title:)

  • Irene says:

    Wishing there was a like button on so many of these comments.
    A fantastic idea AJ and I look forward to seeing how it evolves. Not sure whether there are any Australian teachers on here but I know of some who would be well-equipped and interested to contribute if you’d like some ‘OZ” content and ideas.
    I can definitely seeing it going viral!
    As an aside – I have just received your book, ‘Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom”
    I don’t work in a school but provide support and PD for teachers in our independent schools here in Victoria, Australia and I’m looking forward to using it with some of our teachers in the next few weeks.

  • Humaira Salman says:

    well , love this idea and enjoyed reading all the comments. What I have in mind is to have a video that can not only help teachers to groom professionally but also it should have a team of experts who can help the teachers if they need. The idea of having 3/5or 7mins video session is definitely every teachers’ need .I liked both the names ie “Pocket PD” as well as “sPeeDy”. If you need the videos I can send you as well if they would be of any help. This App should also allow teachers to send their required areas so we can work on those specific topics to cater individual needs.As a teacher I feel catering to individual need is a must .

  • Tim says:

    I am digging the Pocket PD name! I know video seems to be a focus of each seven minute block, but I would love a daily article to correspond with a tagged topic or video + a way to directly contact the person who wrote or shot the video.
    I would love to produce some content when you are up and running (or simply trying to get off the ground!)

  • Galvin Ngo says:

    This is a great idea!
    I think it would be good to stick with the 7 minute reference, and it’s less intimidating. I like how the 7 min apps gamify the experience, and love that you’ve took that into your app design. Can’t wait to try it! 🙂

    I also agree that 5-7 minute videos are quite apt.

    I like 7 min PD – i’d go for that name 🙂 (although, im not sure if there should be something in the name that explicitly spells out that it’s PD on education?) – cause PD might be a broad term?

  • Armando Arechiga says:

    1. How about “Pro-Dev-Sev” for the name.
    2. I think the videos need to be super short, like 1:30. You could get to seven minutes by activating prior knowledge with a pre-quiz, then the video, followed by a post quiz. Finally links to other resources, websites, discussions, hashtags, or anything else should round out the seven minutes.
    I like the idea of earning points, or badges.
    3. Willing to submit videos? Sure, I have no problem with Creative Commons and rights issues, just time!

  • Johanna says:

    Love the idea, do all videos need to be same length? 4 min intro and 8 minute overview? I think theme based menus/channels will be key for users. Fitness apps let you target by type of activity/body goal, this seems the same. Feedback network of uploading own content/practice with idea would also be ideal. Cool idea

  • Nancy says:

    Learn it Do it
    I think the time should be less than 20 minutes, but I like the fitness apps that let me pick a very short workout on the days I only have a few minutes. I would feel good if I learned something great in 3 minutes and I think it is possible. Other concepts would need more time.
    Happy to contribute!

  • Amazing concept! I like “pocket PD”, but maybe “pocket PLN” if you don’t like PD? I would be sold with 3-5 minutes. I would definitely contribute and would definitely use it.

  • This is an INCREDIBLE idea! I think Pocket PD is a great name. I have been using Voxer this year to have a “Coach in my pocket” I also just went to the Boston Summit Teach to Lead PD weekend to work on a website of exactly what you are thinking with the 7 minute videos. I drafted up the start of my idea and wonder if we could somehow use what I am doing for a “technology PD” section to your app. Email me please your email so I can send you the site for you to take a peek at.
    Looking forward to chatting with you further.
    Heather Gauck

  • Pauline says:

    Love your idea!
    I would like to offer PD Bytes as a possible name.
    5-minutes is the ideal target length. This makes it easy to replay as needed, or maybe tackle the 2nd module in a series.
    I am working on tech tutorials for teachers in my district. If you have an interest I’ll share when they are completed.

  • Jeff Ortman says:

    PD: A New APProach (name)

  • Sue Jones says:

    I’d like to see built in peer groups, too (like “top scores among your friends” in Bejeweled Blitz).

    If it’s an Apple thing, though, I’ll cheer from the sidelines. Most of my students don’t have that option.

  • […] of the projects I’m working on right now is the “7 Min PD” or “Pocket PD” App I want to build with all of you. I’m hoping to have it built and released by the end of […]

  • Tamara Salisbury says:

    I love this idea! It’s timely for me too, as I just started the 7-minute workouts last month. 🙂

    1. I can’t think of any names, but I like 7-minute something because it’s so appealing that you can get a bite-size chunk of PD. I think that’s what will catch people.
    2. 7 minutes seems appropriate. 3 minutes seems too short to get any real quality PD. Maybe there could be some longer videos too – maybe 15 minutes – for when teachers want to go more in-depth on something.
    3. I’d be willing to do a video, I think! 🙂 I’m having one of my classes do the Genius Hour project on Fridays in the fall, and I’ve been looking for a project for myself during that time, so maybe I could do a video or two as my own Genius Hour project.

    Also, I love the previous ideas of “action items”. A quiz, a brainstorming list, maybe affiliate links to related books (to earn a little money, like the 7-minute workout gives links to coupons and special offers after each workout?).

    I think it’d be a great idea to give administrators or dept heads or “team leaders” the option to schedule and push out certain PD videos for people to watch. Like they could be assigned so that at the next dept meeting, the ideas in the video could be discussed. It’d be a “flipped-classroom” for professional development.

  • […] May of 2015 I wrote a post, “Let’s Build An App Together“, that focused on me solving a problem many of us have in […]

  • Buddy Chung says:

    Hi AJ,

    I love the idea and your thought about making the connection to the replay value. I know exactly the “irresistible itch” you’re talking about. What’s the status of this app? Have you started on the project? I’d love to help with research and app design. Let me know.


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