Bulb: CSU alumni sheds light on a new way to learn

(Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

The days of printed resumes bound with detailed work in a neat portfolio are over. The days of traditional learning intertwining notes, lectures and homework are fading.



A Fort Collins startup, Bulb, has entered the digital scene with the hopes of transitioning conventional methods of learning, teaching and job hunting to the online realm.


“Bulb is an app for publishing. We’re being used primarily right now for portfolios for students,” said Maggie Shafer, Bulb’s main marketing person. “And, teachers have also used Bulb for putting their lessons online, but it’s really a place to share your knowledge to the world.”


The idea behind Bulb is to engage students in lessons and to provide teachers with a simple way to display lessons.


“Real knowledge is gained when you construct information into knowledge,” said David Runkles, director of strategy and design. “The act of publishing or doing or teaching is itself the thing that completes your understanding of a subject not just reading or getting lectured.”


To accomplish this, Bulb exists on a two-stage platform: collections and pages. Collections are  broad subjects and pages are a part of collections. Within the world of education, a collection would resemble a unit within the class, while pages would be the individual lessons taught within the unit.



“So instead of getting your lessons and then your homework, you get a project with certain learning objectives and you have to capture the process somewhere and publish the final outcome to that project,” Runkles said.


Students once assigned a collection can proceed to complete it at their own pace. Then, the work students complete throughout the progression of a collection can become apart of a different collection: a portfolio.


The benefit of this is a digital copy of all your work, in one place, ready to be viewed by the wider audience.


“Its real value is in capturing a portfolio of work, over the long run,” Runkles said.


In addition to creating a portfolio, Bulb forces users to stand by their work. Credibility lies in the hands of the user.


“My main view is by forcing individuals to take responsibility for their own work, it becomes part of your personal reputation,” Runkles said.


The site is simplistic with limited tools, and it’s easy to navigate. I made an account within five minutes and typed my first page within the next five minutes.


“One of the driving design principles, early on was we wanted the focus to be on the work of creating good content, not on the tools you need to create good content,” Runkles said.


This is evident through a minimized toolbar providing only the essentials need to make content. Many features are hidden within the toolbar to save space.


In December of 2011, CSU alumni Runkles along with his brother and two other founding members closed the doors on their former software business to pursue Bulb.


“We weren’t that happy with it, we always wanted to do a product based company,” Runkles said.


Now, Bulb is home to 19,000 unique visitors and 2,600 subscribers with an account. Bulb entered beta testing in July of 2013, only nine months ago.


Bulb is free with two GB of memory, users can upgrade to Bulb Pro for private sharing and an additional 10 GB of memory for $9.95 a month.


To join the Bulb community, visit www.bulbapp.com.


Collegian Community Editor Lawrence Lam can be reached at community@collegian.com.