Video produced by Ryo Takahashi, voice + acting: me :)


Insight: A second screen experience in the classroom

We use our phones all the time: to chat with friends, listen to music, take photos or plan our day.
But when it comes to the classroom, it's more of a distraction then a useful tool. A team of 6 Hyper Island students decided to figure out if it was possible to turn a mobile device into an educational tool.


Imagine having a second screen experience not with a TV, but with a Powerpoint-based lecture. Students are allowed to use their phones with Haibu, which receives extra information based on what happens on the first screen, where the lecturer has the main presentation. Students benefit from having an extra layer of content, have a way to ask questions and bookmark useful references along the lecture.

The lecturer has the ability to track the usage of Haibu and draw attention to it when he needs to. The lecture becomes interactive, involving students to contribute, ask and discuss, during and after class. We believe this conversation can push education to a new level, using existing behaviors and technology.


Haibu is a cloud service with client apps: one for the lecturer to create and upload presentations, including second-screen content (via web interface or PowerPoint plugin), and one for the students to receive second-screen content and interact with classmates and the lecturer. Just before the lecture starts, mobile devices sync with Haibu service via WiFi network, making the lecture interactive and fun.

  • Client: Self initiated at Hyper Island as a side project
  • Time:2012
  • Site:

  • Team: Ryo Takahashi, Enio Sarriasjavier, Rafael Coimbra, Alex Ivanov, Daniel Mascarenhas, Marlies Deforche

About the process

Since we're are part of the target group, we mapped out our own typical day as a student to see at what moments we use are phones for what purpose.

We also looked into our experiences from our earlier student days. What classes did we remember and why? There was a pattern in all our stories: teachers involving students using music, visual references or playing games to explain things were the ones that stuck with us.

Finally, we organised a lunch and panel discussion with several Hyper Island program managers to explore what ages would be appropriate for using smartphones in the class and the possible obstacles. We talked to teachers and students with the aim of investigating how they use their phones during lectures.

Both the teachers and the students we interviewed saw possibilties in extending the learning moment outside the classroom. Especially the collaboration, discussions and review moment after class is a missing element in today's solutions.

Keywords for our idea were 'Participative', 'Exciting' and 'Realisable'. We wanted something that wasn't depending on technology that still needed to be invented.

The idea to create a 'second layer of content' or a second screen experience came when someone was using Flipboard. The flipping motion made us realize that every lecture in school could have a 'under the hood' part, available for students to play in and for the teacher to see what part of the lecture was most interacted with.

We created a mock-lecture and invited four students from different Hyper Island programs to test our cardboard prototypes. The students were provided with different prototypes, each ranging in devices and amount of information displayed on them. We observed the process and collected the feedback after the test, which made us come up with several changes to the concept and its execution, mainly evolving around the students' focus.

Mid-way our process, we discovered a similar service called Nearpod that totally threw us of balance. 'Is it still worth to continue?', we asked ourselves. Luckily, the same week we had a lecture by Henrik Berggren from Readmill. After the lecture, we presented our idea and our recent problem at the same time. He put us on track again by saying "Great, that means you're onto something good!"

Since most of the team has previous careers in advertising, where it's a big no-no to have a similar concept to something that has been done before, we had to get rid of that thinking.

Haibu was a side-project at Hyper Island that helped me understand a lot about group dynamics and project management. The four months process turned out to be a very inspiring and energizing experience with the luxury of no real deadline.

I was involved in every stage of the process from ideation to prototyping and design, and was also specifically tasked with branding the app, designing and setting up the website and playing the lead role in our case video. All in a day's work :)

On Feb 15th, 2013 we launched our idea on and to several educational organisations and blogs. Our main goal is to stir the conversation about using smartphones in a classroom to enhance learning. We believe it's time to take a step forward and make the classroom more interactive and participative. Eventually, we hope this inspires teachers and students to make this change happen.