By Ajit Narayanan, Founder and CEO, Invention Labs
I started working with children with autism way back in 2008, building technology that helps them learn language and communication. In retrospect, it was almost serendipity – what started as mainly a favour for some friends has now turned into a full-fledged start-up. And today, I’m thrilled to share that TechCrunch broke the story of our company, Avaz (www.avazapp.com), raising our first round of financing, and I wanted to spend a moment reflecting on how my advisors in general, and 1M/1M in particular, have helped me get here.
Online Education continues to be a fast-changing field, and various people are working on various aspects of the industry to make a complicated puzzle come together. This conversation explores some of those pieces.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with introducing our audience to you as well as Academix Direct and CourseTalk.
Karen Francis: My name is Karen Francis. I’m the CEO and Executive Chairman of Academix Direct. I’ve been in my position for just over four years and I come with a strong marketing and general management background. I was fortunate enough to be on the Board of Trustees at Dartmouth College where I got my undergraduate degree. I have a Harvard MBA. That gave me a unique perspective on education and on what’s behind the curtain of putting together an academic institution. I’ve always been very >>>
Gary Matkin has been involved with open education from the beginning. Here, he discusses the current issues and predicts the demise of Moocs. Read on for a fascinating insight into the future of open education.
Sramana: Gary, let’s set some context for our readers. Could you describe your role at UC Irvine and what you are doing for online education?
Gary Matkin: UC Irvine has been providing coursework online for about 14 years. My role at UC Irvine is Dean of Continuing Education, which covers all aspects of continuing education such as distance learning and summer sessions. Those units have provided the bulk of the online and open learning opportunities at the campus.
In extension, we offer 800 online courses per year. That is half of our offering to the continuing education audience. That audience consists primarily of working adults who are coming back to us to get additional education, change careers, or update their careers. Sometimes they are also there just to have some fun learning. >>>
The Higher Education industry is going through massive adoption of online education. This conversation highlights the trends, as well as areas where Pearson is looking for partners.
Sramana Mitra: Todd, let’s start with introducing our audience to yourself as well as to the Pearson Embanet unit so that we have some context set for the conversation.
Todd Hitchcock: Thank you very much for taking the time to meet with us today. I’m Todd Hitchcock and I currently manage our managed-program business at Pearson Embanet. I’ve been in education since 1990. I’ve been an educator myself and have run online programs. I came to Pearson just over six years ago to essentially build out our online learning strategy. Prior to managing our Pearson Embanet business, I was responsible for our US Higher Education online learning strategy and our content and courseware. >>>
Much is changing in the world of education. Universities are becoming large scale providers in online learning. Arizona State University is at the fore of this trend, running one of the largest business programs online.
Sramana Mitra: Sher, let’s start with introducing our audience to yourself as well as to what’s happening at the Business School at Arizona State University.
Sher Downing: The W.P. Carey School of Business, which is at Arizona State University, is one of the largest business schools in the nation. This year, we have around 11,000 students in various business tracks that are both face-to-face as well as online. We also have some pure online degrees that we are doing across the globe. We focus on developing the ideal that business is personal. We want people to come out of our school with a real sense of entrepreneurship and ability to do a lot of different things in their lives. >>>
We’re seeing a wonderful trend of student entrepreneurs building substantial businesses without dropping out. Blaine Vess is yet another great role model. This story outlines Blaine’s entrepreneurial journey.
Sramana Mitra: Blaine, let’s start with introducing our audience to you. Where did you grow up? Where were you born? What kind of back story leads up to StudyMode?
Blaine Vess: I’m Blaine Vess, the CEO of StudyMode. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, which is where I co-founded StudyMode with my friend Chris Nelson. At that time, we were going to North Central College. From there, I ended up moving to Northern California and graduating from San Jose State University with a degree in Marketing. I originally focused on Computer Science and learned that I could program, but it wasn’t my specialty. So I switched over to Marketing and ended up moving to Los Angeles.
Easyskillz.com provides online training for professional skills like Android app development, HTML5, web development, Excel, SAP, project management, Six Sigma, and digital marketing. Training is delivered through pre-recorded videos of industry experts and on successful completion of the course, students receive certification from Indian Government skill certification agencies.
The field of educational technologies is going through an exciting period. From massively open online courses (MOOCs) like MIT’s OCW or edX and Khan Academy to a range of tablet and smartphone applications, the field is rife with exciting innovations that have dramatically changed the face of education. There is a higher degree of self-learning and from a ‘sage on the stage’ model, education has evolved to a ‘guide on the side’ model. And in niche areas of education like special education where the ‘guide on the side’ models are the norm, there is a revolution happening, aided by the tablet and the various applications.
In the 1M/1M program, I came across one such innovative company, India-based Invention Labs, in the field of special education. With its latest innovation, called FreeSpeech, it addresses a growing problem encountered by children with special needs. For every 88 children in the US, one child is diagnosed with autism. The incidence of dyslexia is 15 percent of children in the US educational system. There are about 6 million kids with special needs in the US and a total of 24 million in the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, Korea, and West Asia. There is a growing need to help kids with speech disabilities develop communication and language.