PRIVATE TUTORS ON DEMAND
VAMSI KRISHNA, ANAND PRAKASH, PULKIT JAIN, AND SAURABH SAXENA
At this point, we’ve all used or at least heard about Khan Academy. Now imagine using Khan Academy with Sal Khan himself Skyping in to help with the lesson. That’s the basic concept of the online tutoring site Vedantu (www.vedantu.com), which ambitiously declares to both personalize and democratize education. The brainchild of four Indian teachers and entrepreneurs, the company provides access to a stable of instructors always at a student’s beck and call, and for a price.
The Vedantu founders count a number of benefits to this real time, online solution including more teacher flexibility, true personalized learning, saved time, better security, and greater parent inclusion. In some ways the site is similar to online dating. Students can surf through instructor resumes and pick those that seem most in tune with their needs. A few clicks later, a match is made and both teachers and students can rate each other after sessions.
At the moment, Vendatu seems focused on the founders’ native country of India, with most of the course offerings catering to the country’s version of the SATs. But after a recent $5 million investment, the company seems poised to bring live online instructors to a device near you.
AUTHOR, ILLINOIS TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Three years ago, the usual audience for this Naperville, Ill. history and English teacher was no more than a few dozen. This past summer, Josh Stumpenhorst was in front of thousands and gave the closing keynote at ISTE2015 in Philadelphia. He also created Innovation Day at his school when students can tackle any subject they choose, but they must create or invent something from what they have learned and share it with others. Stumpenhorst, who was awarded his state’s 2012 Teacher of the Year distinction, was inspired by the sweat and frustration of his own kid who was coming home with a stack of homework while in kindergarten. He observed that this new generation of children required different learning tools. His book “The New Teacher Revolution” addresses new rules of engagement for 21st-century learners. And maybe the revolution, while not televised, will come from teachers like Stumpenhorst.
GENDER FREE PROGRAMMING
GIRLS WHO CODE, FOUNDER & CEO
It’s hard to believe that in 1984 37% of computer science graduates were women while today that number has dropped to 18%. These mindboggling statistics led Reshma Saujani to found Girls Who Code (GWC) in an effort to bring women back to a currently male-dominated industry. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer/tech-oriented job openings and Saujani’s goal is for females to snag at least 25% of those gigs.
GWC not only provides the educational resources students will need to land those six-figure jobs but also inspires them through exposure to female role models already in the workforce. GWC was realized in 2012 and has already reached over 3,860 girls in 29 states. We think they’ve already come a long way, baby with much more to come.
DO-IT-YOURSELF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
EDCAMP, BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Attention all educators, you’re never too old to go to camp. That’s why Kristen Swanson is a vocal advocate and champion of EdCamp, which offers free gatherings for teachers to congregate, share and well, educate each other. Advertisers and salesmen are not invited to attend and the meetings have no agenda—hidden or decreed. They are meant to encourage spontaneous interaction, freethinking, and any attendee can be a presenter. Swanson, an original founder who sits on its Board of Directors, is so passionate about EdCamp’s effectiveness and results, she fields questions from educators around the country and vigilantly recruits folks to participate in her “free” time. It is also her responsibility to set a camp’s “schedule,” a blank grid that is organically charted and filled in as the meeting progresses. Past collaborations resulted in 6th graders learning quantum physics through dance and sparked healthy discussions on digital privacy. Over 250 camps have been hosted and there are no signs of the campers going home early.
EDUGAMING THAT IS ACTUALLY FUN
When Khalil Fuller was a kid in Los Angeles he saw a lot of kids skipping school, preferring the boards over books. His friends seemed to know all about Kobe’s three-point percentage and could quickly rattle off accurate career stats of countless players, but they couldn’t solve simple algebraic equations. He discovered that when math problems are presented as an exciting basketball game rather than a boring trip to the store with five dollars for bread that kids suddenly paid attention. While at Brown University a fortuitous meeting occurred between Fuller and Bill Daugherty, who worked in business development for the National Basketball Association (NBA). They collaborated with Tim Scheidt and Jim Fina and launched NBA Math Hoops, a board game and app designed to excite kids about math. Fuller won a $50,000 grant from MassChallenge and at 19, was named one the youngest Echoing Green Black Male Achievement Fellows ever.
ASSESSMENT BEYOND THE NUMBERS
LIAM DON, SAM CHAUDHARY FOUNDERS, CLASSDOJO
One of the many reasons the idea of “big data” doesn’t sit well in the world of education is that hard numbers and spreadsheet reports do not mix well with helping kids and reaching parents. Liam Don and Sam Chaudhary founded ClassDojo so that teachers can document a student’s positive and negative experiences in real time throughout the school day and connect with parents in a way that is approachable and positive. Each kid gets his own icon and teachers give points for achievements in “soft skills,” like creativity and teamwork and take away points for say, eating paste. Teachers can display the children’s progress in the classroom to encourage positive reinforcement. They can also upload photos and instant message parents, just in case Walter Cunningham forgot his lunch money. ClassDojo complies fully with COPPA and FERPA and never sells or rents data (which is expunged at the end of the year) to any third parties. According to the company, more than 35 million teachers, parents, and students are already using their service, so in this case the game may already be changed.