“The technology we are using in classrooms today is built for the classrooms of the 1980s… We owe it to our learners to provide learning in innovative ways, and to make it exciting, fun and interactive.” – Kiran Kodithala, USA
Sometimes, the pace of change in education can be frustratingly slow, hampered by lack of imagination and school administrators who are tied to old approaches. For Kiran Kodithala, that frustration turned to inspiration, leading him to start his own company, N2N Services Inc.
Founded in 2004, Kodithala’s company spent its first decade updating and integrating information systems for the higher education market. And while that work is still an important part of the company’s mission, Kodithala now views today’s ubiquitous mobile devices as the best opportunity to engage students at all levels, and to play a key role in their academic success.
N2N’s mobile offering enables college students to register for classes; search students, faculty and staff; view campus events, maps and news; check out on-campus job opportunities; and receive critical push notifications (to name just a few features). The same offering lets staff and faculty track attendance, view student profiles, and manage student accounts. All of these features are designed to enrich the university experience for students, and help higher-ed institutions attract, retain and graduate students.
For Kodithala, embracing mobile technologies is just one aspect of his passion to enhance education for both schools and students. “It’s precisely because of this passion that N2N has been working closely with AT&T to support their commitment to President Obama on the ConnectED initiative,” he tells us. “We are also actively working with Lucien Vattel, CEO of GameDesk, to implement game-based learning in schools worldwide.”
Kodithala’s interest in education goes beyond the technology his company develops, reflecting his commitment to meaningful transformation. In his blog, he explores some of the bigger issues facing education today –from the impact of MOOCs to the role of teachers in a flipped classroom. It’s innovators like Kiran Kodithala who are reshaping the education landscape, and inspiring others to do the same. Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure.
Please tell us the story of what inspired you to become an educator. Can you think of a particular moment in your life when you realized education was the right field for you?
My first job was as a student quality assurance (QA) analyst for the Administrative Information Technology Services department at the University of Illinois. My job evolved into a full-time role supporting the implementations of the complex Student Information System at the university. Since then, I’ve continued working in higher education to support and to integrate administrative systems like SIS, LMS and other products for a more efficient enterprise. In fact, N2N Services (formerly N2 Services) has been focused primarily on technology platform and support initiatives in the US and Canada since 2004.
In 2010, we realized that the educational enterprise we were supporting was becoming obsolete and needed a transformational change from the ground up. With the vision to transform the complex ecosystem of higher education, we have decided to focus on providing a full mobile education platform. Since then, we have continued to deliver high quality products and solutions to support K-12 and higher-ed institutions making the transition to the digital enterprise.
Every educator has amazing stories to share. What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator? How did you feel at the time?
My proudest moment is seeing the tools we build support students in a profound way – whether they use N2N’s mobile apps for learning, attendance-taking or registering for classes – the thought that we are impacting their learning in a transformational way is very profound.
Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom? Can you share a particular instance in which technology played an important role in your job?
Innovation and leveraging technology in the classroom is what we strive for at N2N. We are passionate about using technology to solve complex problems like teaching children with special needs, supporting schools with implementing BYOD and BYOT strategies and making 1:1 learning possible.
In addition to our support for K-12, we are working with higher education institutions to support competency-based education and implementation of content delivery networks for innovative learning delivery.
Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?
The biggest obstacle we face is our ability to communicate with our stakeholders on the benefits of learning innovation for student success. There are a lot of vendors in the market and the schools, school districts and higher education leaders are somewhat overwhelmed by messaging and advertisements from these vendors. While we have been proud of our accomplishments so far, we have to overcome the resistance to change from the higher-ed and K-12 administration.
The technology we are using in classrooms today is built for the classrooms of the 1980s. The current generation of learners is equipped with technologies like tablets and mobile devices like we have never seen before. We owe it to our learners to provide learning in innovative ways, and to make it exciting, fun and interactive.
What are you excited about/hopeful about for the future?
I am very excited about the emerging concepts of personalized learning, social learning and competency-based education. I believe that these emerging trends will make education more affordable and most importantly, personalize education so that a learner can learn at their own pace. The current model of learning is built to train a clerical workforce under imperial rule – we need to transform this learning from the ground up to build leaders for the next generation. We can accomplish this by leveraging the power of technology and connectivity.
About Kiran Kodithala, Founder, President and CEO, N2N Services Inc.
- Birthplace: India
- Current residence: Atlanta, Georgia
- Website I check every day: http://www.edutopia.org/
- Person who inspires me most:
- Philanthropy – Mother Theresa
- Civil Rights – Gandhi, Martin Luther King
- Technology – Steve Jobs
- Visionary – Henry Ford
- Favorite childhood memory: Playing cricket with my school buddies on my 10th birthday.
- Favorite book: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Touchdevelop.com – a cool way to teach app development for kids.
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, that’s the only way to learn.
- Your favorite quote or motto: “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” – William Pollard