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Driving Innovation in the World of Education: Globaloria — Company of the month

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela

“As we seek to create a new generation that can innovate, our education system must create opportunities for every student to learn to develop both creativity and teamwork skills.”
- Walter Isaacson, Author of The Innovators (2015), Steve Jobs (2011), Einstein (2008).

Meet Dr. Idit Harel, an Israeli-American EdTech innovator and entrepreneur, graduate of Tel Aviv University, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the MIT Media Lab, the founder of MaMaMedia and the World Wide Workshop, and currently the visionary CEO and creator of Globaloria, the innovative platform–aimed at school-age kids–for teaching such global skills as design thinking, computational literacy and coding fluency through the self-directed creation of games.

This award-winning learning theorist has been speaking out about improving STEM and computing education in America and globally for over two decades—while practicing what she preaches. With missionary zeal, through her R&D work in universities in the USA and China, collaboration with leading thinkers and major technology corporations, and in her own pioneering startups, she has put her ideas about disrupting education into action.

The Globaloria eLearning Network is designed specifically for upper-elementary, middle-school, and high-school students because, in Idit’s words, “we must reach kids where they are, and throughout the nation and the world, kids are spending eight to ten hours daily in schools.” Schools are therefore the place to be if we are to fulfill the goal she defines–“to help all kids grow with the most innovative and transformative learning systems”.

“I want to make kids expert-learners,” Idit goes on, “to get them to be creative, imaginative, and digitally fluent, 21st-century global citizens and successful workers. They must learn to work in teams in online spaces and to pursue new ideas through multicultural collaboration if they are going to succeed and lead in the global innovation economy.”

Teaching the New Fundamental Skills
How to do that? Start with what Idit Harel recognizes as today’s most pervasive media – gaming technology and game media. “All kids know how to play games rather well,” she says, “but they are not literate in it until they know how to both read it and write it. Playing games is the lure. Inventing, researching, designing, and prototyping are their new science. Coding is their new writing.”

But it’s not just about teaching coding–a fact that makes Globaloria clearly different from other companies that offer coding and computer science content. With its comprehensive system of digital courses designed to fit any school’s goals and schedules, Globaloria represents the whole innovation toolkit. And since the courses are aligned with the Common Core’s national and state standards, it is easy for schools to integrate Globaloria courses into their curricula and to see the added value grades and credit towards graduation the kids who take the courses have realized.

“Globaloria is not just free library of online tutorials,” says Idit. “It’s designed to be the complete interactive textbook and workbook for the new curricular needs. We teach students industry-standard programming languages and engineering practices through a set of six project-driven structured courses, each of which takes students some 40 to 50 hours to complete.”

These are not light drag-and-drop games or consumer-entertainment apps. They are “training wheels” for the online learning, teamwork, and self-learning necessary for college and career readiness. To that end, Globaloria provides a full-service product that includes in-depth professional development for teachers, virtually and in-person, through end-to-end training and support every step of the way. Says Idit: “It means that any teacher, including those with no computer science or technology background, can teach Globaloria courses in their classrooms – Math, Science, English, or History – with success.”

A Billion Learners: Seeking a High Return on Delivering Pragmatic Systemic Solutions
Headquartered in New York City, with offices in Austin, Texas (at Capital Factory) and Silicon Valley (at GSVlabs), and with its expert, experienced, and passionate leadership, Globaloria can address a market of some 82,000 middle and high schools comprising 33 million students and two million teachers in the United States. Its scalable business model clearly has traction, and it demonstrates the company’s ability to respond smartly to current high demand for innovative STEM and computing instructional materials, while its products deliver a high Return on Education (RoE) by meeting these critical needs—a proposition routinely tested by the company’s own research and confirmed by numerous awards and widespread recognition for its game-changing platform, technology, curriculum, and systemic influence. Globaloria is well positioned to leverage its operating experience as it grows its school business nationally and internationally as well as in home consumer markets.

It is aiming high. Idit wants to transform the next billion learners. “Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn are already reaching a billion users,” she says. “Our job in the EdTech space is to build stuff that can reach at least that next billion with cutting-edge innovations in learning and teaching nationally and globally. That’s the EdTech space my team and I now occupy.”

What sets Globaloria apart?

Idit cites three key attributes:
First, the program is an equalizer for college and career preparedness. Students of both sexes and from all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds and representing all ability levels become adept at the same programming languages and work habits used by the industry professionals at Google, Cisco, Apple, Boeing, or Amazon.
Second, the game-design curricular approach and project-driven structure require students to master such valuable soft skills as design thinking, problem-solving, online collaboration, and entrepreneurship.
Third, the courses focus on digging deeper into academic content, breaking down complicated concepts into easy, engaging lessons and assignments that are fun to do.
The proof is in the numbers: Globaloria students register a 95 percent course completion rate with a 93 percent school retention rate. It works.

A Women-Led Executive Team of STEM Education Disruptors
This women-led business boasts a diverse management and employee base. That diversity is essential, says Idit, because it demonstrates that “we walk the talk. If the country is falling behind on educating girls and minorities in STEM, then our job is to design new, welcoming learning environments, and the designers and creators must be representative of our target markets and at the same time be role models for the possibilities.”

The company’s key executives include Shannon Sullivan, Amber Oliver, Scott Lipton, and Ron Fortune. Each brings impressive experience in EdTech or education or business or all of these business disciplines, and each is an advocate for the power of technology to create learning experiences that unlock creativity, teach teamwork, and are accessible to kids everywhere so that all have equal opportunity for success.

Idit describes her team as “a passionate and innovative team, sharing the same education ideals and values, focused on how to help all our customers succeed–students, teachers, principals, and superintendents. Some of us have been working together for more than eight years–and we know we have the right team in place to scale and grow the business.” Moreover, she adds, “with the money we are raising now, we’ll continue to build out the team with experienced industry veterans in school sales, finance, and online technology operations, and we have a strong board of directors and an equally impressive board of business advisors who believe in this product, in our business progress to date, and in the future we both project and represent.”

Dr. Ron Fortune, with a B.A. MBA, and Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley, joined Globaloria in 2015 as Executive Vice President, bringing to the job more than 30 years of experience as CEO of Education.com and of Computer Curriculum Corporation (CCC), a global education software and service company that, under his leadership, became the largest in the United States during the 1990s. His focus is on scaling the reach of Globaloria services to students and teachers throughout California and other western states. “My lifelong commitment, since my days as an educator and administrator in the Berkley school system, has been to transform education using technology such that all students, and especially the underserved, can succeed and compete in today’s technology-infused global world.”

Shannon Sullivan, who holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and M.Ed. from the University of Southern California, serves as the Vice President of products and technology. She has led the conceptualization and development of Globaloria courses, blended learning platform and technology, and its professional development programs for educators. She brings to the task 20 years of leadership experience as an eLearning software producer and editor of innovative technology applications and multimedia programs that entertain, educate, and inspire action. “My passion is for projects that empower learners to have a voice. I create learning experiences that give students a palette of powerful, easy-to-use tools for self-expression, creativity, and teamwork.”

Amber Oliver serves as the Vice President of partnerships and operations. She holds a B.A. from Brown University and a Masters from Columbia University. Amber has been leading strategy and execution for all growth and revenue activities. With her team, she identifies and develops partnerships with states, districts, and schools for successful Globaloria implementation. “I want every young person to be emboldened with the skills and confidence to create the world each wants to live in. I can only imagine what the world would look like if there were truly equal opportunity, which is what makes Globaloria so inspiring to me and to the school leaders we partner with.”

Scott Lipton is responsible for directing implementation of Globaloria in school districts across the central and southern United States. With M.S. in Education Administration and an MBA from the University of Texas-Austin, his experiences as a classroom teacher, high school principal, and district administrator bring practical, ground-level knowledge to the Globaloria team. Scott has been integrating innovative technologies into education systems throughout his career. “I am a strong advocate for using education technology to support the development of teachers and administrators. I enjoy guiding educators in the utilization of transformative technology, helping them to innovate learning and teaching and to improve outcomes for all students.”

Idit is inspired by a recent conversation with Walter Isaacson, whose book, The Innovators, she describes as “a must-read for anyone attempting to innovate education or to educate others in how to innovate.” She recently asked Isaacson if he thought it possible to instill creativity, imagination, and innovation skills in students in schools. She says, “his answer was a resounding yes.

Furthermore, he told me that as he explored the personalities and minds of those who created the digital revolution while researching his book, he had learned that what drives the innovators is their strong need to satisfy their childlike curiosity, joy of creativity, and imagination, but what finally brings their innovative thinking to fruition is collaboration. Isaacson highlighted that innovating is in fact a team sport.”

That is a huge idea, and why it is essential, says Idit Harel, that the education system provides to students the opportunity to stimulate their imagination and creativity, and cultivate innovation skills through teamwork – which is what Globaloria sets out to do.

For more information, contact ling@globaloria.com | to apply to the program or bring it to schools www.Globaloria.com

By Michelle Williams