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Monday, January 30, 2017

Interview with Abbas Manjee, Kiddom: Innovators in e-learning Series

Welcome to an interview with Abbas Manjee, Kiddom. Kiddom is a new platform that helps teachers pinpoint their students' needs and to track the impact of their teaching adaptations. It's a performance-based approach to teaching, but without the pain.

1.  What is your name and your relationship to e-learning?

Name: Abbas Manjee
Role: Chief Academic Officer
Relationship to e-learning: Before Kiddom, I taught high school math serving at-risk youth in New York City.

2.  What is Kiddom?

Kiddom is the easiest way to plan, assess, and analyze learning. We integrate assessment, curriculum, communication, and analytics in one easy-to-use platform.

  •     Teachers save time with an integrated library of free, standards-aligned resources.
  •     Teachers access beautiful, actionable reports to pivot and tailor instruction.
  •     Teachers are able to commit more time to designing richer, engaging assessments.
  •     Teachers can provide students feedback in real-time with built-in communication tools.
3.  How did you get the idea for Kiddom? Who are the users?

Kiddom’s users vary from elementary school teachers to high school teachers: we have tens of thousands of users spanning across K-12. We also support SPED teachers (track IEP goals), homeschoolers, and school counselors (who wish to track social emotional learning standards).

Here are a few examples:

  •     A high school literacy teacher reflects on using Kiddom  
  •     A teacher submitted a personal use case on EdSurge as a case study   
  •     An elementary school teacher writes about her experience working with us 

Three years ago, I wrapped up my fourth year of teaching high school algebra in NYC. Meanwhile, my best friend Ahsan was developing mobile math games in San Francisco. I owed him a visit, so I flew out to California that summer to spend some quality time with an old friend.

Ahsan and I talked at length about my experience teaching at-risk youth and shared our thoughts on the future of education. I was more pessimistic than Ahsan; upon hearing my day-to-day challenges, he introduced me to some innovative educational technology tools coming out of Silicon Valley, most of which I had never heard of. And while I was thankful, my immediate response was not solutions-oriented: I was already working investment banker hours.

These new tools only added work. I was not incentivized to use these “gadgets” because ultimately, I would be doing the grunt work of transferring data into my school-mandated gradebook. I was already burdened with data entry, which constrained the time I had to work with my students individually. I spent hours in Excel crunching numbers to truly understand and predict my students’ achievement.

This conversation created Kiddom: a platform for teachers to integrate content, aggregate data, and use real-time analytics. Ahsan’s previous entrepreneurship experience coupled with my teaching experience will help us develop Kiddom into an indispensable tool for  teachers to meet the demands of 21st century education.

4.  What makes Kiddom different?  How does it differ from other products in the same space? 

Great teachers working with the students most in need are constrained by archaic workflows and tools that are ineffective or redundant. As a result, these teachers inefficiently spend their precious time working in and around those constraints, expediting their burnout. If these teachers could access transformative tools that could simultaneously personalize learning, expand access to content, foster collaboration, and open a channel to share best practices and resources, they could level the playing field for students, particularly those at-risk.

We’re building Kiddom to be that transformative tool. The Kiddom platform allows teachers to track student assignments along with the standards they assess for, then access a range of analytics that inform teachers which standards need more work, which students need more help, and which students should be pushed forward. In addition, we integrate the analytics with content, so if a teacher does not want to reinvent the wheel, they are free to utilize our premium, standards-aligned content library to send resources, videos, quizzes, and more directly to students. We do not define ourselves as a learning management system, because by definition, those products tend to want to keep teachers locked into their system, whereas we encourage teachers to use third-party apps and content providers directly from our platform. We’re also 100% free.

5.  What are the instructional design concepts that are incorporated in the product?

We follow and designed the Kiddom platform based on the ADDIE model.

Standards-Based Grading Guide
Social-Emotional Learning Guide

6.  How does Kiddom tie to things we know about how people learn and cognitive psychology?

We recognize the traditional teacher-centric model (GRR / “I do, We do, You do”) does not always optimize learning for individual students. GRR has its shortcomings since it erroneously assumes all students learn and work at the same pace. At the same time, teachers devote a lot of energy to keeping their entire class engaged throughout a lesson grounded in GRR. This usually proves difficult to achieve and often creates unnecessary classroom management challenges. We believe personalizing instruction within this model is a Herculean task and so we have designed our product to make learning personal, expand access to quality content, and foster community collaboration.

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