“It became clear to us a few years ago that the common core state standards, testing requirements, low cost tablets with long battery life and digital content were all converging to create massive change in the education industry.” – Bob Chung, USA
This week I’m thrilled that Class Policy’s creator (and CEO of AssistX Education) Bob Chung could help us honor the occasion.
We’ve covered some amazing apps for students in Daily Edventures, but Chung has one just for teachers. And anytime I hear about innovation that builds teacher capacity, I pay attention. Because unless we do something to alleviate the pressures on teachers – too many students, too much to do, too few hours in a day – they simply won’t be able to deliver to their potential.
When I sat down with Bob last week, he demonstrated how Class Policy works in a 1-to-1 classroom, and I was struck by his commitment to supporting teachers’ efforts to integrate technology and explore creative approaches to learning. Everything this app does – from polling to launching applications to keeping students on task (view a detailed demo here) – is about putting more control in the hands of teachers.
Chung, who arrived in the US from South Korea at the age of seven (and without any English language skills), has benefitted greatly from some committed teachers who took the time to ensure he was working to his potential. Now, he’s paying it forward.
“It is our belief the technology in and of itself will not produce better student outcomes,” Chung says. “Technology is just a tool…it’s a very powerful tool in the hands of a good teacher, but it is just a tool.” That critical insight – one I believe is at the root of any successful education innovation — inspired the creation of Class Policy. Chung adds, “Our focus has been on helping teachers to adopt and use technology in the classroom by empowering them to eliminate distractions and orchestrate their class.”
Please enjoy today’s Daily Edventure, a conversation (and show-and-tell) with Bob Chung, and be sure to check out the Class Policy app, which is free in the Windows Store.
What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?
I immigrated to the United States with my family from Korea at the age of 7. I went into the 2nd grade into the public school system without knowing a lick of English. Through language tutors, summer school and dedicated teachers, I caught up, excelled and eventually graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Electrical Engineering. I am a product of the public education system and it was my education that opened the doors of opportunity for me.
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?
My favorite teacher was my second grade teacher, Mrs. Finch. When I recall that first year, it feels like an old silent movie because I couldn’t understand anything. She took a special interest in me and my success and set in motion my education career.
Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education. What has changed as a result of your work?
It became clear to us a few years ago that the common core state standards, testing requirements, low cost tablets with long battery life and digital content were all converging to create massive change in the education industry. It became clear in our work with the Gates Foundation supporting charter schools heavily utilizing computers with digital content that there was a need for a new approach to classroom management/orchestration. We have built a next generation classroom management/orchestration solution that will empower teachers to lead their students to effectively utilize their tablets for learning.
In your opinion, how has the use of apps, cellphones, and mobile devices changed education? And your work?
These again are powerful tools that put the world’s information and knowledge at the fingertips of students. On the other hand, in a classroom environment, they can present a huge distraction to students. This is why so many of the teachers in one-to-one schools start class by telling students to shut down their devices. Students now are surrounded by these devices in their everyday life and these devices can and do add significantly to their education. To be utilized effectively in a classroom environment however, requires
solutions that empower the teacher to effectively lead their students in utilizing their devices for learning.
In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?
To me the growth in flipped classroom models is really exciting. In most cases, there are
others that can deliver a lecture on a particular topic far better and in a more engaging way than most K-12 teachers out there. So the idea of sending home the lecture on a particular topic presented by a leading expert and then transitioning the teacher’s role as more of a coach and personal tutor is an exciting development that technology enables.
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you
are most passionate about? Why?
I think creativity and innovation is a key skill for today and even more as we move into the future. The vast majority of us will not do the same work our entire career. In fact, I read a study that more than half the jobs later this century don’t even exist yet. Therefore, creativity and innovation is going to be critical for the next generation to adopt. Finally, from an entrepreneur’s perspective creativity and innovation are key.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
I think the greatest “educational tool” is a great teacher, but we’re not going to be able to give every child that. The second greatest educational tool is access to the Internet and that is something that we can give to every child in the relatively near future. To have the world’s information and knowledge at your fingertips is an incredibly powerful tool. For the minority of children that are sufficiently self-motivated and able to self-direct themselves properly, you might even argue that this may be all they need. However, there are relatively few children that will do this on their own. Most children in the K-12 age range need the direction of teachers.
What is your country doing well currently to support education?
There is an incredible level of experimentation with new models and approaches to improve education outcomes.
How must education change to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?
Creating a focus on 21st century skills is certainly one key pillar. To focus on 21st century skills, it helps to incorporate 21st century tools as a natural part of the curriculum. To do this successfully, tools for teachers to effectively leverage 21st century tools in a classroom context is also an important ingredient.
President, AssistX Education
- Birthplace: Seoul, Korea
- Current residence: Bellevue, Washington
- Education: BS Electrical Engineering from University of Michigan
- Website I check every day: wsj.com and geekwire.com
- Person who inspires me most: My 4-year-old daughter Allie.
- Favorite childhood memory: Being at home with my sister and best friend dreaming about how we were going to accomplish our goals.
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Tampa to follow up on the ClassPolicy pilot at Hillsborough School District.
- When was the last time you laughed? Why? My brother-in-law sent me a link to a youtube video on a real product called PooPourri. http://youtu.be/ZKLnhuzh9uY .
- Favorite book: The Happiness Advantage and How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and Hidden Power of Character by Bob Tough
- Favorite music: 80s Rock
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Follow your passion, not financial success. You’ll be a lot happier and possibly even wealthier.
- Your favorite quote or motto: “Look and you will begin to see.”
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