What is your take on EdTech experimentation at both the state and local levels?
Motivis is fortunate to be based in New Hampshire, the Competency-Based Learning hub of the nation both in K-12 as well as higher education. At the state level, New Hampshire worked with expert educators to create statewide graduation competencies as well as Performance Assessments for Competency-Based Education (PACE) that take the place of high stakes SBAC (common core aligned testing) at some student benchmarks/milestones. The state was granted a waiver by the US DOE, but has to show evidence of student performance and demonstration of mastery of competencies annually. Educational technology at the state level is essential to enable and support the collection of student evidence and artifacts, validation and calibration of assessment rubric criteria. It has been meaningful to work with both the state and local school districts to help them manage, calibrate and authentically measure student learning.
Southern New Hampshire University is key to the fertile soil that grows innovation in education. College for America encourages learners at all points of the learning journey to complete their degrees by providing accessible and affordable programs. Additionally, programs at Southern New Hampshire University’s School of Education have moved to competency-based systems to ensure that emerging educators are prepared to teach in competency-based schools.
Tell us about your team, who do you have supporting you? How did this start?
We spun out of the innovation lab at Southern New Hampshire University and created the platform that supports College for America - a fully online competency-based learning program. There are many here on the team that have been a part of those early experiences. I am grateful to the President of SNHU, Paul LeBlanc who truly understands what is meant by transformational leadership and has been an amazing mentor. Paul took a chance and hired me at SNHU and he serves as the President of our board of directors.
Every team member on board is here because of their unique skill set and insight they bring. Most importantly they believe in our mission. In 2 years we have grown from 9 people to almost 60. As our products have evolved, so have the roles of the early Motivis team players. When there were 9 of us at the beginning we all pretty much did everything from marketing, research, dev, etc. Today, we still have an “all hands on deck” mentality, but we are better able to appropriate and utilize people’s strengths which has resulted in an amazing collaborative team deeply invested in student success. I am extremely grateful that I get to show up to work each day and collaborate with each of them.
Being the CEO, what would be your key tips to other EdTech Startups in relation to new business models/revenue streams?
Focus on the things that will truly make you a great company. Reputation, customer loyalty and trust. Realize you won’t have all the answers and that is okay. It has been said many times, “It won’t be easy, if it were everyone would be doing it.” You will have people who may not get what you are doing and knock your ideas, use it as fuel to push you harder. There is no playbook for success as every situation is different.
Trust your gut, build a solid team and do good. Everything else will fall into place.
Who would you call your competitors? And how are you different?
We are creating something new in education called LRM (Learning Relationship Management). We keep an eye on what is going on in our space but we don’t obsess over it. It is much more productive to obsess about what are customers are doing and how we can help them do better.