Dr. Yair Shapira has two decades of experience as an executive in successful start-ups and high-tech firms. A passionate entrepreneur, Yair founded Amplio, a special education learning platform, designed to deliver effective instruction that helps prepare students for success. He is on a mission to help millions of children with special needs. His previous roles include executive positions in sales, marketing, business development and R&D. Dr. Shapira holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. In an interview, he speaks on an array of topics. Excerpts from the interview:
Conception of Amplio
As the parent of a son with a stutter, Dr. Shapira saw first-hand that many children with special needs make slow progress. Students with speech-language impairments, for example, often take 3.4 years before they are dismissed from therapy. “Holding a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, I knew there had to be a way to help students accelerate their progress.
Helen Thomas began her career at LeapFrog, where she was part of the team growing the global business exponentially and later became the founding CEO of LeapFrog China, after she successfully built educational businesses in Japan and South Korea. She then joined another startup Livescribe and launched the world’s first Smartpen worldwide. She also started two other companies- Bluefocus Communication Group of America and Touchjet USA, Inc. Most recently, she has been working with the founders of DMAI (Dark Matter Artificial Intelligence) and successfully launched their first education platform with AI driven algorithms to deliver the right content at the right time. She speaks on an array of topics. Excerpts:
Conception of DMAI
The first years of a child’s life are crucial to development, yet accessibility and cost cause many to enter kindergarten behind, observes Helen. 50% of Americans live in childcare deserts, a ratio of 3+ young people for every licensed childcare slot. Those with access, face staggering costs upwards of $13,158 annually.
Rens ter Weijde is the co-founder & CEO, KIMO, a Dutch AI venture focused on personalized education. In addition, Rens is also a non-executive board member in other companies. He holds a degree in psychology, business, and Artificial Intelligence. An avid fan of climbing, surfing, and kitesurfing, this passionate entrepreneur is a multi-tasker and believes in bolstering revolutionary achievements in the field of education through technology.
He spoke on array of topics on the edtech front. Excerpts from the interview:
Conception of KIMO
Says Rens that three main reasons led to the conception of KIMO. Firstly, there was a nagging worry about the speed of transformation, as many of us walk around feeling we should ‘learn more’. Secondly, people study anytime, anywhere, mostly with short content instead of MOOCs (e.g., articles, podcasts, videos).
“Whether I am studying, managing a project or creating an #edtech #startup, I always do something that make me happy.” A passionate learner and an entrepreneur, Mila Semeshkina’s tweet speaks a lot about her personality. Being a visionary by nature, Mila played by her own rules and was destined to be a leader since childhood. “My leadership skills have probably been instilled in me since childhood. I know I am capable of leading people, and I like the results of my leadership,” she shares.
From the highly-energetic little girl that she was, Mila grew to be the top ten finalist in a prestigious international EdTech Awards in 2021 with immense dedication, willpower, and belief in who she is and what she can achieve. “Growth and success is a journey and without passion for what you do, you cannot make others passionate about it.” Mila was absolutely certain of her purpose to help people find themselves, forge their own path, and create positive changes in their lives. By developing Lectera, an international online learning platform, her goal was to allow people to acquire knowledge and skills, practice them, and learn to apply them in their lives, as her tweet continued to say, “…this is how @lectera_courses came about: I loved technologies and learning, and I wanted to share this love with everyone.”
A passionate young entrepreneur, Connie Zhang believes in creating new opportunities and working towards growing a sustainable community. In her zest to create stress-free experience for students applying for admissions to colleges and universities especially in the USA, she created Mocca. As a woman entrepreneur, she is all set to change the ever evolving edtech industry. In an interview, she speaks on an array of topics. Excerpts:
Conception of Mocaa
Mocaa is an online search platform that connects college applicants with admissions consultants anytime, anywhere. “We realized the US admissions consulting services lack certain transparency to customers, and customers lack awareness and resources when it comes to preparing for college application, which causes tremendous stress and an unenjoyable start to their new chapter in life” says Connie. She adds that compared to international students applying from China, India, or Brazil, most of the US applicants also didn’t know they could hire an admissions consultant to receive professional guidance on the college application process.
Bangping Xiao is a passionate educator and an entrepreneur. He is a firm believer that edtech can revolutionize the education sector today. He is the CEO of Neoscholar Education, a provider of research-based, higher education programs. He speaks on array of topics. Excerpts from the interview:
Conception of Neoscholar Education
Neoscholar Education is a provider of research-based, higher education programs. As an education innovator, Neoscholar Education focuses on introducing research-based learning experience to students by collaborating with world’s renowned instructors and researchers.
Notes Bangping Xiao that for a very long time, education meant memorizing contents and taking exams. “We believe that education in modern time should center on developing the ability to think critically, analyze and explore knowledge independently. Blending learning with scientific research is an effective way to accomplish this.”
An expertise in sales and performance management, Torben Stigaard has great insights into the working of a plethora of companies – from small start-ups to large corporate groups. A staunch believer of cross-selling, his professional expertise includes developing sale, campaigns and skill-enhancing activities based on eos- and customer satisfaction reports. He is the Managing Director of Plandisc, the world’s first digital circular calendar. He speaks on an array of topics in an interview. Excerpts:
Conception of Plandisc
A Plandisc circular calendar is an ideal easy, sharable and interactive tool to visualize organizational flow and to generate transparency to break down the siloes that can hinder any organization. Says Torben, “Morten, who is a partner in Plandisc, needed a digital and flexible tool to map the rhythm of the school year for his job in the education sector. He wanted a tool that facilitated collaboration, editing and allowed to gather all files and information in one place.” Often planning takes place on multiple platforms, which makes it difficult to get a good overview, so it was important to make a planning tool that can contain it all and display it in a way that makes sense to the viewer and to make the processes and rhythms clear thus Plandisc was born.
Jin Tan is a man who dons multiple hats. He is a staunch believer that people can realize their full potential if they are given access to true mentors, who can teach them the skills they want to achieve. In 2020, he set up ReSkills Global, a company, designed to change the way we do business in the Personal Development Industry. Jin feels that Learning and Development should be a highly interactive, two-way process. He is also the principal partner at TBV Capital, a Securities Commission licensed venture capital fund in Malaysia focusing on empowering Tech Startups across Asia. He serves as the National Business & Economic Affairs Commission Chairman at JCI Malaysia, an international youth empowerment organization. In an interview, he speaks on array of topics. Excerpts:
Conception of ReSkills
ReSkills connects aspiring learners to master coaches via interactive, real-time online courses. Learners achieve deeper understanding and mastery of the subject matter because they can analyze and apply the lessons learnt in deeply engaging, coach-led case studies and role-playing sessions.
A winner of BC Business Top 30 Under 30, Dana Stephenson’s entrepreneurial journey started when he set a goal to graduate from the University of Victoria without student debt or parental support. While attending university full time, he worked as an outside sales representative for a slew of B2B/B2C sales & marketing and HR providers. Recognized for his performance, he was quickly promoted to management positions that gave him insight into growing organizations. He combined his interests in social entrepreneurship, education technology and talent development to set himself on a path to bridge the education and recruitment systems so that future generations could more easily transition to successful career paths while companies easily find the talent and resources they need to fuel their future growth and success. Joining forces with a few of his peers at graduation, he launched Riipen, an online educational technology platform that facilitates schools and employers to collaborate on providing meaningful project-based experiential learning at scale. In an interview, he speaks on an array of topics. Excerpts:
Conception of Riipen
Shaunak is the founder and CEO of Yellowdig. Yellowdig is a community-driven active learning platform adopted by over 130 colleges and universities, K12 schools, and corporate training clients. Yellowdig’s mission is to transform every classroom into an active, social, and experiential learning community. Shaunak graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from IIT Bombay and completed his graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to founding Yellowdig, Shaunak spent a decade advising global companies on technology, strategy, and growth. Excerpts:
Conception of Yellowdig
Shaunak’s idea of starting Yellowdig was to improve the student experience by creating a platform that combines academically relevant content with features they are familiar with from Facebook and Twitter. He laments, “We identified that students are not building relationships and connections in their learning environments. Learning has often looked like a solo endeavour, even when there are elements like discussion boards where instructors assign students to post once and comment twice because they are writing mini-essays to their instructor not actually conversing.
Technology is transforming education, changing how, when, and where students learn and empower them at every stage of their journey. With the ultimate aim to personalize the learning process, the technology empowers students by giving them ownership of the complete learning process. Since the students are offered technology and access to resources beyond classroom walls, students have developed a lifelong love of learning. Technology can help educators create blended learning environments ad leverage digital tools for formative assessments, bringing new models for learning and teaching to classrooms.
How Technology is breaking barriers in education?
Many schools have started embracing the use of technology to enhance instruction and to support learning. Teachers have always been using computers as a great source for promoting their instructional goals. For instance, it is used for building student capacity for research, to drive reality in student inquiry, make students present information in appealing forms, and help students access education within and beyond the school.
Technology is revolutionizing the complete world in a better way. It has transformed education also, by empowering it by giving them the ownership of how they learn and making education relevant to their digital lives. Technology empowers educators to efficiently personalize learning with access to data, content, and cloud.
How Technology can be utilized to improve learning?
Education has always strived to personalize learning for students. Now with the help of technology, you can access real-time student data, content apps, and a lot more. For the technology to work effectively, it should be incorporated in the classroom to gain the maximum benefits out of it. At every educational institute, teachers must be given the responsibility of facilitating the technology in different ways. Let’s have a look at some of the technologies which can be utilized to improve learning:
Illumeo founders Greg Stout and John Kogan seem to have a perfect combination of backgrounds for bringing new technology solutions to training for accounting and corporate finance professionals. John is a many-time CFO with almost three decades in corporate finance and accounting, including extensive training leadership. Greg is similarly deep, but in technology, leading many companies’ development teams to build scalable, usable, class-leading solutions in a variety of product areas. Today’s business environment runs at a dizzying pace. People who were hired for certain skills yesterday soon find themselves trapped with yesterday’s skills. That’s not good enough. To be truly effective one has to have skills that are up to the minute, and even ahead of the crowd. This enables working professionals to survive their jobs today and thrive in their careers tomorrow. It also allows their companies to stay ahead of the curve. Although most people don’t think about finance and accounting as areas of competitive advantage, they definitively are – and if not, they should and could be. Effective skills in these areas allow companies to get their leadership and stakeholders more insightful information, faster, enabling quicker and better decisions. That’s enough to turn an average business into a great business.
Fun, adventure, thriller, fantasy, myths—types of fiction genres for children today are much more diverse and exciting than before. Reading a wide variety of genres helps children to develop emotionally, socially, intellectually and culturally, making them effective learners. However, according to the Department of Education, one in five children in England cannot read well by the age of 11. An equally worrying statistic also proves that 30 percent of children aged 11–17 do not read for pleasure, which ultimately results in insufficient reading and comprehensions skills. This is the same case for many countries across the world, pointing to a global challenge in education. With extensive experience in publishing industry, Sven Huber identified this issue and founded Boolino, in 2011, to help children increase their poor reading habit. Based in Barcelona, Spain, the company develops reading tools that support parents to foster the love for reading amongst their children. In 2016, Boolino acquired UK-based Fiction Express—a digital, interactive reading platform that helps primary and secondary schools through the power of engagement and gamification. “For us, technology is an enabler that aids in the creation of a completely new way of interacting with learning content.
Due to the organizational complexity at many higher education institutions, finance management can be daunting. With a goal of more efficiently managing its finances, a prestigious private university sought a single integrated solution that could streamline and standardize the budgeting and planning process for its various units, from academic departments and professional schools to housing and museums. In addition, its finance team wanted quick and easy access to the data to manage its budgeting and forecasting. After considering multiple enterprise solutions in the market, the university implemented Kaufman Hall’s Axiom Software—an intuitive, flexible, and powerful budgeting and planning platform—to meet its requirements. Axiom streamlined the university’s budgeting process with highly automated workflow capabilities that eliminated the pitfalls and chaos of stand-alone spreadsheets. Also, the software offered configurable, Excel-based models that could easily be adapted to a specific department’s needs, along with powerful drill-down and drill-through capabilities, enabling ad-hoc analysis for end users. Today, the many diverse programs and operating units of the university are integrated onto one system for a complete overall financial picture.
Before testing the ground, a seasoned entrepreneur looks for a way to provide a personalized experience to his/her target audience. With a successful track record of creating technology startups and scaling them into profitable companies, Jay Tokosch well succeeded in accomplishing this through his latest brainchild, NoteAffect—an application that allows instructors to broadcast ANY digital lecture/course material to students’ digital devices for personalized and interactive learning. Jay often finds it in his passion to explore the hottest segments in the market and design newest products that do not exist in the market. “The key to NoteAffect is the engagement features and the embedded algorithms that deliver unprecedented analytics, enabling data-driven decision making,” claims Jay, CEO and Founder of NoteAffect. By putting together engagement and analytics, the company increases the knowledge rate and helps provide more effective training, education, and meetings. This in fact solves the challenges faced by the three major stakeholders in the education ecosystem—Students, Instructors, and Administration.
The view that video resources will play an important role in the classroom of the future is not something many would argue. For starters, video-based content is being used to support many of the educational initiatives that schools and districts are implementing in classrooms today. Video is a multifunctional resource and it can be effectively used to supplement existing lesson plans, and bring subject matter expertise and content context into classrooms in ways no other technology can replicate. Also, video is a flexible resource and can be presented in a number of formats: recorded video, video conferencing and most recently, live-streaming. The format creating the buzz today is live and interactive streaming. A derivation of live-streaming that allows for real time interaction through chats. It promotes classroom engagement and ultimately, improved learning outcomes. Charleston, SC based Streamable Learning was founded to put live and interactive at the forefront of learning the classroom. Historically, live video in the classroom was predominantly offered through video conferencing, a transactional model whereby supply and demand was basically driven by one-to-one contact. In such a service, each session is scheduled, purchased, and supported individually. Streamable Learning takes a different approach and builds a calendar of hundreds of supplemental curriculum-based events offered to schools and districts through a subscription model.
Wisedoc, a software company exclusively for researchers founded by researcher – entrepreneurs Dr. Akash Kannegulla, Bo Wu and tech wizard Andy Garcia to ease the process of documentation, formatting and publishing their complex journals, conference articles and patents. Wisedoc is a cloud-based service that helps academicians and researcher to quickly and easily format their content to the required specifications of journal publishers. Wisedoc software addresses every requirement of the researchers in content formatting and save time and effort as it is designed and developed based on the first-hand experience of the founders. The genesis of Wisedoc came from the frustration on the disproportionate amount of time and energy spent in shaping up the multitude of technical papers with multiple tables and figures by Akash during his doctoral program years at Oregon State University. With each publication having their own standards and systems, Akash felt he was spending needlessly his valuable time in formatting the various documents to meet the publisher’s demand. However, publish or perish being a criterion for procuring a PHD degree, he along with fellow researcher Bo Wu embarked on setting up the Wisedoc application to simplify the whole documentation procedure.
Informational and instructional technology has felt like two sides of a busy street. The traffic flow of students and teachers whizzing by and pulling up to whichever side provided the needed support and resources. If students and teachers needed instructional technology tools and strategies, they pulled up to the instructional team, and if they needed assistance with peripherals, devices or connectivity, they pulled up to the informational team. However, times have changed, and both sides of the street are now working together like a pedestrian-only walkway. Tech terminology like networks, firewalls, access point, bandwidth, servers, and phone systems now include terms such as student data privacy, accessibility tools, digital equity, cybersecurity, 1:1 initiative, and BYOD. Our students are growing up in a world where learning doesn’t just happen within the brick and mortar walls of schools. Resources such as hardcover textbooks, scantron sheets, poster boards, index cards, and worksheets are being replaced organically with content management systems, collaborative documents, videos, podcasts, and educational software. Teachers and students are personalizing learning experiences thru blogs, virtual field trips, multimedia presentations, robotics, and artificial intelligence.
Higher Ed is a highly collaborative work environment. Governance of universities is shared between the administration and the faculty, and even beyond that, all voices have a voice in governing the institution. This has real consequences for CIOs and other technical professionals working in Higher Ed. How does transformation happen in this environment? The only way that CIOs can effect change in this environment is to know the mission. In corporations, it’s important that IT know the *business* and partner with colleagues on the business side. A university is mission-driven, so that’s where Higher Ed CIOs must focus. Obviously, the mission focuses on teaching and learning, but universities, particularly public universities, also serve the public good. Additionally, universities also often have a mission around research. Engaging in the mission of the university means working with a broad set of stakeholders, not just faculty, staff and administration, but students. Working with students can present unique challenges for engagement.