Posts Tagged ‘education’

Reading and Writing Technology

Two skills have repeatedly served me well throughout school and startups: reading and writing.

While this may seem obvious at first, I think too many people take these skills for granted. The high tolerance of mediocre writing, and a growing reading deficit among college students in particular, is a dangerous signal if we wish to have a truly competent and educated workforce. Writing and reading well takes consistent effort with feedback. Thus, I’m always excited when I see people building tools to help make people read and write better.

Luckily, I’ve discovered three impressive tools in the past few months:

  • 750 Words
    • Write 750 words every day, unfiltered and unedited. Just get the words out of your head and onto the screen.
  • Hemingway
    • Useful for instantly identifying common grammar mistakes. It’s like having an english teacher peaking right over your shoulder.
  • Spritz
    • Just as sprinting is to running, spritz is to reading. Read and retain more on the go.

After using these tools you will notice that they are all simple and immediately useful. Common hindrances in technology products such as on-off switches,  complicated user-interfaces, instruction manuals, etc. are not found with any of these. Instead they all follow the 0123 design architecture. Again, any user can derive value from these products immediately.

Of course the heavyweights in terms of new reading and writing technology include the Amazon Kindle, tablets, and audio books. These innovations alone have helped to expand the minds of millions of people, while also helping us retain vast digital libraries. But I think it’s important to note that we are lucky to see even more reading and writing tools developed on the Internet, and they are allowing us to practice our literacy skills in ways that we could’ve only dreamed of a decade ago.


02 2014

Dabbling In Education

Hey everyone, I want write a brief update about a neat project I’ve been working on for the past three months in anticipation for this weekend’s interview. From the outside looking in, I haven’t revealed much information regarding some of the things I’ve been heavily investing my time in lately. Back in late December 2010, I came across Peter Thiel’s new fellowship program 20 Under 20. After reading the initial press release, I immediately contacted two of my closest buddies who have a close following of the startup technology scene, David Merfield and Nick Cammarata. We all agreed that this opportunity staring us in the face was an something we could not put off for any amount of time. With nothing to fear but fear itself, we were certain that we needed to start seriously thinking about an avenue for which to pursue a world-changing venture. David, Nick, and I discussed the most important aspects of our lives thus far that could be significantly improved with the help of new technology. To us, education is an area that we see as a traditional system that has become one of the last major sectors to fend off technological innovations. While all three of us have had different schooling experiences, we are all passionate to disrupt the current education model.

Before the New Year, we submitted our team essay to the Thiel Foundation on the subjects of How we want the change the world collectively and One thing we believe is true that most other people believe is not true. With the understanding that the amount of time a teacher spends with an individual student directly correlates with the student’s competence of course material, we set out to flip the existing education model. The current student-teacher relationship is inefficient, and we believe we can profoundly change education by enabling teachers to mechanize the repetitive aspects of teaching. With the motivation that we can harness the attention of students who are becoming increasingly digital learners, we began to plan out our venture that would encourage teachers to re-evaluate how the convey course material.

In the past month, we’ve made through the initial selection rounds and preliminary phone-interview. In the past couple weeks leading up to final selections made in the upcoming days, we’ve been busy gathering thoughts in opinions from everyone in our personal and professional networks regarding our proposal. One resource that has been very beneficial towards our project is the New York Startup Digest. The NYC tech scene may take hard hits now and then from California techies, but the range of events offered every week is substantial. Thanks to the educational technology meetups in New York, we were able to find a potential partner to integrate with our platform.

When you voraciously pursue an idea for three months through endless refinement it’s imperative that you communicate what you are trying to do very clearly. We’ve found that the best way to share our ideas on our planned venture is to convey our thoughts in a format that forces others to learn things about our team, and also forces others recognize more about themselves. We will giving several talks to the Thiel Foundation, mentors from the Thiel Foundation, and other finalists for the 20 Under 20 program. My final piece of advice as my flight descends upon the Bay Area is to not be afraid to take a chance, just be aware of why you are taking the risk. We will be arriving in San Francisco today, and we will be walking on our dream.

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03 2011

Education 2.0 – Digital Learners

In the past couple of years, an online education has become more accessible that ever imaginable. For example: Many college students are sharing course notes on sites such as ShareNotes. Moreover, the general intellectually curious go getters are soaking up Ivy League school lectures from schools who have made them free online, such as Princeton. MIT was the pioneer of enabling internet users to free higher education lectures, with their OpenCourseWare service which includes the entire curriculum, online. (P.S. Bill Gates has been rumored to take in one or two Physics lectures from MIT in his spare time, when he is not managing his philanthropic work.) The course material available is often up to date, and taught by the some of the smartest professors in their field. So, in reality, an Ivy League education is really just a click away for any internet user.

Some of my favorite lectures that I have seen have been through AcademicEarth. Their portal has accumulated lectures on an array of subjects from numerous institutions, even offering AP course test prep for high school students. 2010 is truly the advent of digital learning, where classroom time will main irreplaceable, but learning online will increase greatly.

Many people hold up, and limit their view of online education for the college/university level. That is absolutely false, because the largest group of learners online are the K-12 kids going through school right now, who are engaging with school lessons online.  Here, take a look into the life of my typical day in high school-

Glancing back at my PreCalculus class notes posted online, while doing homework:

Again, studying online from the notes and discussions posted on my Environmental Science class’s website:

I realize what you may be thinking, that is just the math and sciences of the curriculum. For my English class, the widely used study aid CliffNotes now offers all of their materials online, offering literary criticism among many other study tools. In addition, for institutions to combat academic dishonesty, the leading tool Turnitin was created to scan a students work and compare it to all existing publications available on the web, which is often used in my history class for research papers.

Finally, the next step of my education is the college search and application process, which non-coincidentally takes place on the web these days, with the help of powerful software such as Naviance. This is the age of digital learners, and the internet is the new path towards a higher education. If you are looking for the next place to continue your education, then the chances are that you are already here.


01 2010