Q&A with Abhijeet Vijayakar, Founder of BrainNook
is a new online game that helps kids develop Math and English skills while exploring the Earth and playing safely with others. BrainNook is the first multi-platform social educational game that allows students to strengthen critical math and language skills in real time with their classmates. Most recently, BrainNook released Grade 2 Arithmetic app for iPad. The web-based version of BrainNook is used by 100,000 students in thousands of classrooms across the country.
Recently, BrainNook founder Abhijeet Vijayakar took the time to share with us some of her insights on education technology. Check out our Q&A below.
What is the biggest trend in education technology that we should be watching?
Disaggregation of edtech programs: rather than self-contained programs that have everything in a silo, teachers/students will split practice, assessment and reporting among different programs. Open APIs make it possible for programs to communicate over the Web. Platforms like Edmodo are bringing a critical mass of educators and students together onto a single site; apps help with practice and assessment, across multiple devices (Web and mobile); performance data is pushed back to the platform or into the school SIS.
BrainNook is pursuing this trend aggressively. We are integrated with the Edmodo platform, both pulling data out of the platform and pushing data back in. Going forward, we plan to integrate with additional platforms and be available across multiple devices.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles in adopting technology in the education space?
Selling to districts and schools is still a high-cost process that many startups can’t afford — so a lot of technology isn’t as widely available as it should be.
However, other changes have made it easier to get technology more widely adopted. Three major ways in which this is happening:
1. Adoption of the Common Core standards means that it’s possible to develop curriculum-based programs that target the majority of schools in the country rather than being restricted to a specific state’s standards. This unifies the market for edtech companies.
2. Educational social networks like Edmodo/Schoology, and social media tools like Twitter, make it possible to target teachers bottom-up rather than selling top-down to schools
3. The spread of cheaper mobile computing devices like tablets means that students don’t have to be at a computer to use a program — they can use it during a classroom period. Technology can be integrated much more organically and deeply into their everyday learning schedule — great for programs that want long-term, high-frequency (but possibly short-session) use.
Overall, we’re very optimistic about the emerging mechanisms for bottom-up distribution of educational technology.
Where do you see education technology going in the next 5 years?
Two major trends: connectedness and interoperability.
- Connectedness: Students will learn in an environment connected with their peers and teachers, as more edtech companies apply the lessons of social media products like Twitter/Facebook to helping students learn. Students can dip into and out of educational experiences on mobile devices in short bursts as wireless Internet access becomes ubiquitous even in K-12 classrooms. We focus on this type of connected gameplay experience in BrainNook.
- Interoperability: Related to the disaggregation trend. Edtech products on the Web will communicate with each other in increasingly sophisticated ways; data silos within each program will break down. Imagine a future where a teacher can purchase e-books for her class from an online store; information about the books she buys is exposed through an open API to a separate website, which then uses those books’ content to automatically generate comprehension quizzes or other assignments for students; performance data from these assignments is visible to the teacher when she logs in to a platform like Edmodo, or directly in the school SIS.
Thanks to Abhijeet for taking the time out to chat with us!