Sunday, March 5, 2017

#EdTechBridge Done Right: Legends of Learning

I've been interested in working with EdTech companies for years. I have always appreciated the EdTech companies that seek and value teacher and student input when it comes to product development. This passion led me to working with Katya Hott from E-Line Media and then Brainpop, two companies that I have had wonderful experiences collaborating wit /h. Together we founded #EdTechBridge to address the important issue of the culture gap that appeared to exist among EdTech stakeholders. It was apparent that Educators wanted to work with EdTech companies and vice versa, but these groups often had trouble developing and nurturing relationships. Our goal was to build and facilitate a community that set out to help bridge this gap.

In many cases these relationships formed and often this leads to the development of ambassador programs that provide opportunities for educators and edtech companies to really deepen these opportunities to work together. The best case studies start with authentic relationships. A few  successful ambassador programs that immediately come to mind include the Brainpop Certified Educator Program, Common Sense Media: EdTech Mentors and the Minecraft Mentor Program.

Along comes Legends of Learning...

Over the past year or so I got to know Aryah Fradkin. We developed a relationship as I like to... through twitter chats. Aryah became a regular in both the #EdTechBridge and #Games4Ed chats, the two chats I am most involved in. The thing I like most about twitter and twitter chats is that we start to find like minded people and develop true friendships through interactions. Aryah and I quickly became friends as we have many common interests and very aligned ideas regarding education and EdTech. As is often the case, our conversations went from online interaction to emails, phone calls, and more.

I met with Aryah and Legends of Learning CMO, Geoff Livingston. We discussed the idea of involving teachers in the process. I am always sure to impress upon the importance of ensuring that educators feel valued in the process. It quickly became apparent that Aryah and Geoff completely understood this.

As we talked, Aryah and Geoff shared the vision of Vadim, the CEO and founder of Legends of Learning. Vadim is a research scientist by training and brings great experiences to the development space in terms of iterative design, and often building by trial and error. He has a solid background in using data to improve a hyptothesis and make it stick.

Dr. Vadim Polikov recently founded and is serving as CEO of Legends of Learning, a game-based learning company dedicated to improving the way we learn to function in the technologically driven society of the future. He started Legends of Learning to create solutions to the current education challenges facing the United States.
Prior to starting Legends of Learning, Vadim started and sold two companies for more than $50 million each. Vadim received a B.S. and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University. He has two boys and one girl, and his favorite superhero is Batman. 

Initially, I had no idea how expansive their vision was! I figured they were planning on putting out a few science games and wanted to reach out to several teachers for feedback. Early on, Aryah asked if I had some science teachers in mind. I gladly connected him with a few great science teachers in my building.

Well... clearly the Legends of Learning team had much bigger plans than I imagined! One day I received an email inviting educators to get involved and become ambassadors. The email indicated that Legends of Learning was going to take 50 (yes you read that right) ambassadors to ISTE in San Antonio as a thank you for their hard work and involvement in helping to shape the development of Science games to positively impact learning.

Legends of Learning is creating an amazing ambassador program, including educators in every
step of the process. If that wasn't enough... they're bringing 50 ambassadors to ISTE in San Antonio
This was interesting because often ambassador programs look for educators already actively using the product. Legends of Learning took a very different approach. They understood that they needed to recruit educators from the very beginning. They created a program including hundreds of educators spanning every area of the science curriculum. In addition, they contracted a number of game developers to create games based on suggestions and feedback from the educators. When I first entered the Ambassador community I was overwhelmed initially. There were discussions based on hundreds of different learning objectives that Legends of Learning is aiming to hit through their vast selection of games being developed. The overall idea is to create a repository of science games that are bite sized and teach to specific learning objectives. This will allow educators to build playlists of games and integrate them within the existing curriculum. This addresses an age old issue in game based learning where games often are seen as taking away from valuable teaching time as teachers race to complete the curriculum. The Legends of Learning approach addresses this issue beautifully.

If you are an ambassador you know that the discussion boards are quite active and the direct interaction with the developers has been a key component from the start. Games are starting to launch in beta which will continue to allow educators to further shape the development through continuous feedback and iteration.

I am so happy to see this authentic approach to EdTechBridge collaboration by bringing educators, students, and developers together from the beginning and through every phase of development.

Kudos to the Legends of Learning team. You've demonstrated #EdTechBridge done right!

Aryah and Geoff will be co-moderating the #EdTechBridge chat on March 29th at 7pm ET. We hope you can join us!

For more information, please check out the following: