“It’s not one big moment. It’s all the small moments that make me proud to serve educators, parents, and students every day.” – Kim Jones, USA
Since Daily Edventures first spoke to Kim Jones in 2012, her non-profit organization, Curriki, has come a long way. Curriki, which provides online tools and content that enable students to move at their own pace, now has over 434,000 members and offers over 60,000 free resources, including lessons, units, assessments and multimedia learning objects across all subject areas.
The organization’s goals are five-fold: providing high quality free resources, empowering educators, eliminating the education divide, leading the open education resource movement and engaging in dynamic partnerships with a global reach.
According to Jones, “As we say at Curriki, ‘The Network is the Classroom.’ We believe the combination of reliable connectivity and high-quality content will enable children and adults to have greater and greater access to information and educational materials. And THIS is why we do what we do!”
This former Sun Microsystems executive became passionate about education when her job took her all over the world, often to countries where schools had no access to the Internet, let alone the latest hardware and software. Through Curriki, Jones has been able to advance the goal of education for all while sharing content that both teachers and students are looking for.
Curriki also now features helpful tips for teachers, like this recent post on OneNote. And both teachers and parents are singing Curriki’s praises as a solution for students who are falling behind, or who need an extra challenge.
“The biggest innovation isn’t going to be a new software tool or a magic LMS or SIS,” Jones says. “The most exciting innovation is the one that will remove all the barriers that prevent all schools to have the same high-quality teaching and learning tools, content and professional development.”
Enjoy today’s catch-up with Curriki CEO Kim Jones.
What inspired you to become involved in education?
Prior to my job as VP of Education at Sun Microsystems, I hadn’t considered working for education. But it wasn’t long after taking the position that I discovered my true passion. Here’s how it happened: As I worked with so many universities, research institutions, and schools, I was able to see what they were doing to change the world and at Sun, we provided the technology piece that enabled education. All the pieces just fell into place for me.
It just clicked.
For example, in Argentina there were many remote schools that had no access to the Internet. Their textbooks were old and torn up. We partnered with a company that provided a satellite-enabled giant truck turned into a traveling mini-classroom and we [fitted it] with SunRays (client computers) with access to Curriki. We were able to expose teachers and children from all over the country to materials that could be used online.
This was my first true exposure to how Internet access to the best digital learning materials could transform classrooms. This is just one of many examples of how I learned that I loved education and it was what I wanted to do.
What was the defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be involved in education?
It’s not one big moment. It’s all the small moments that make me proud to serve educators, parents, and students every day. I receive feedback from students, parents and teachers about how Curriki has helped them learn and it is those stories that make me incredibly proud to be involved in education.
For example, a high school student recently reached out to Curriki and thanked us for helping her learn Geometry and getting an A in the class. She said her teacher told the class on day one that she was assigned to teach this class and not qualified, but due to an unexpected departure there was nobody else to teach. She basically read the textbook to the class and expected the kids to figure everything out on their own. This high school student started searching for help on the Internet and found Curriki. Through the resources she found she was able to not only understand the materials, but get an A in the class.
We also receive incredibly touching stories from parents. A mother from India reached out and thanked us for helping her find learning resources that helped her son with English and his math.
Almost every week we get feedback from teachers telling us they are finding resources to help students that are falling behind, or to challenge students that want to move ahead, or resources that will help them bring their classroom alive. It is feedback like this that we get from teachers, parents and students every week that make us feel proud to do what we do.
Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?
I think the network [Internet] is and will continue to become the great equalizer. I realize we have a long way to go before we can get everyone access, but with the proliferation of low-cost devices (getting lower every day), and many initiatives springing up to bring Internet connectivity and high quality digital content to everybody possible, I think equal access to education is truly within our reach.
Whether it’s a day to day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle to quality education for students?
I have no doubt about the passion teachers bring to their classrooms every day and I believe that every parent wants the best for their children. But today, without access to the best materials due to lack of funding, it seems an insurmountable task and it is easy to get discouraged.
In terms of innovation, what are you most excited about for the future?
I am excited to see the innovative ways we – as a collective education community – can pull together to open up the world to ALL students, not just the privileged few. The disparity exists in every country. There are schools with high quality technology, devices, and curriculum and just down the road there are schools without.
About Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki
San Francisco, California, USA
- Birthplace: USA
- Education: BA, University of California, San Diego; Honorary PHd, University of Edinburgh
- Website I check every day: Curriki, BBC News
- Favorite Childhood Memory: Riding horses, reading, and traveling. It was my grandmother who taught me a lot including a love for books and my parents exposed me to horses and travel at a very young age!
- Favorite book: I have so many favorites, but my recent favorite is I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai.
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: I love them all, but recently OneNote has become my favorite. Not only is it one of the best ways for teachers to stay organized, but it’s a great way for me, too!
- What is the best advice you ever received: “Always hire the best of the best – leadership takes a team, you can never do it yourself!” Scott McNealy, Former Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Sun Microsystems.