Moby-Dick Today: Innovative App ReThinks Class Interaction with White Whale

Apr. 13, 2011 By Jenna Bartlo

Students at Biola University are experimenting with a truly unusual approach to their class discussion of Moby-Dick: They’re doing it without the discussion. Or the book. The group of five students are the first to test out a new mobile app with far-reaching implications for the classroom — one that will be publicly unveiled on April 15, 2011, at Biola University’s Imagination Summit, an event aimed at exploring the role of technology in higher education.

The “ReThink Books” app — which allows users to read books on their mobile device and share comments with fellow readers as they go — opens the door for students to discuss what they’re reading anytime of day and anywhere in the world.

“Real education is part of a great conversation older than the West, but technology and ReThink is a chance to make the conversation better by increasing the avenues of communication,” said John Mark Reynolds, director of Biola’s Torrey Honors Institute great books program, which is testing the app.

“The best technology makes you forget it is there as it lets you do what you could not do before it was invented and ReThink may do that for Socratic education.”

Biola’s second annual Imagination Summit comes as institutions nationwide are evaluating the use of technology and pushing faculty to use technology in the classroom, often with a response from professors of “How?” The summit, themed “Reach Beyond,” will look at how educators can use technology to connect and inspire their students — ReThink Books being one of those ways.
The application enlivens a book and goes beyond the physical textbook, says founder, Jason Illian, former CEO of

“Biola is at the cutting edge of what is possible,” said Illian. “I want universities to embrace this [Re-Think Books]. I have a new level of respect for Biola for their willingness to take a leap of faith.”  

Biola University seeks to offer resources and equip professors with new tools for the world-wide classroom developing educators with the understanding of how to enhance students’ learning experience with technology. Summit speakers, including Illian, will present on the opportunities technology offers educators and leaders to reach local and global communities in education and beyond. Keynote speaker Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, will share on the use of technology in business and how to leverage social media to connect with customers.
Filmmaker and media consultant, Phil Cooke, who authored newly released book “Jolt: Get the Jump on a World that’s Constantly Changing,” will moderate the seminar and will have a book signing following the Imagination Summit.
Presenters include:
·      Jeff Monday, Apple account executive
·      Lillie Turner, director of operations for Emerging Technologies Group at Cisco Systems
·      Paul Kim, chief technology officer at Stanford School of Education
·      Jason Illian, former CEO of, now CEO and founder of ReThink Books
·      Maureen Girkins, former CEO/President of Zondervan Publishing
·      Steve Mihaylo, CEO of Crexendo web marketing services
·      Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A
Follow the Imagination Summit on Twitter at #isummit.
The Imagination Summit will imagine the future of education moving beyond the conversation towards tangible ways professors can implement technology into the classroom.
The event will take place in Sutherland Hall at Biola University from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is free for the event. Free lunch provided by Chick-fil-A with registration or press pass. If you would like a press pass, please contact Jenna Bartlo at or call 562.777.4061.

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