A Student’s Voice about Technology & Learning: Interview with Shantanu Bala

by Guest Blogger Shelley Terrell

In the move for education transformation, we need to listen to many voices including students. I was fortunate to meet high school student and web developer, Shantanu Bala. We met online while collaborating on a project to further improve education. Shantanu is a high school student who developed this really cool software to help his fellow peers and other students worldwide, Quicklyst. Quicklyst is a free notetaking tool that does really cool things such as if you type a ? next to any word it searches through Wikipedia and other sources to find more information. I was so excited about Shantanu’s motivation to develop Quicklyst and his motivation behind joining a teacher led reform project that I asked him if he’d mind me interviewing this past week. So glad he agreed!


Shantanu Bala is a high school student in Phoenix, Arizona, and one of his interests is computer science. He learned programming when he was in elementary school, he was introduced to formal web development when he started working with the Joomla! Project. He volunteered and contributed to that free software project for about a year during his freshman year of high school, and states he really enjoyed it. He was introduced to the Joomla! Project through the Google Highly Open Participation Contest. After that, he started becoming more confident with his programming, and decided to find other projects he could work on. After looking at Arizona State University’s website for information about the university (towards the summer of his sophomore year of high school), he stumbled across an interesting laboratory called the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing , and asked for a tour of the place since he was very interested in applying to Arizona State. He found some of their research really interesting, and asked if there was anything he could work on. One of the PhD students became his mentor, and with his help Shantanu published a few research papers at a couple conferences (http://www.chi2010.org and http://have.ieee-ims.org). This past October he presented at the IEEE HAVE Conference in Phoenix.

Shantanu reflects:

Quicklyst merged a couple of my passions. I enjoyed taking part in academic pursuits at Arizona State University, but I’m also very interested in education as well. I’m currently the chair of the Education Workgroup of the Arizona Governor’s Youth Commission, and I’ve always been interested in the possibility of starting a company.