SOURCE: Smart Sparrow

Smart Sparrow

April 18, 2016 14:14 ET

Smart Sparrow Founder Recognized as Top Innovator by The Chronicle of Higher Education

Dr. Dror Ben-Naim Acknowledged for Putting "Digital Power" in Hands of Educators to Redesign Teaching and Learning

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - Apr 18, 2016) - Dr. Dror Ben-Naim, founding CEO of Smart Sparrow, has been named as one of The Chronicle of Higher Education's nine top tech innovators in 2016, joining a distinguished group of scholars, administrators, entrepreneurs, and students who are tackling big challenges facing colleges and universities. 

Described by world-renowned technology researcher George Siemens as an entrepreneur who "thinks like an academic but with a very practical streak," Dr. Ben-Naim created Smart Sparrow's pioneering adaptive learning technology while pursuing a Ph.D. in intelligent tutoring at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia. Initially a research project, the technology was quickly adopted by instructors at UNSW looking for practical tools to easily create engaging courseware, while retaining their own pedagogical control over the adaptivity and content.

In April 2014, Ben-Naim moved from Sydney to San Francisco to introduce Smart Sparrow to the U.S., and soon was awarded a $4.5 million grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop next generation courseware. Instructors at over 500 institutions worldwide now use the platform to create or customize engaging, adaptive courseware and simulations, and access real-time insight into student progress and how they are learning to identify those who may be falling behind. 

"Educators know, and the research tells us, that online tools can help students learn more, faster -- while also providing meaningful insight to help educators tailor and continuously improve their instruction," said Dr. Ben-Naim. "The creation of dynamic content has historically been the domain of developers, not educators. Our goal is to make it possible for educators to create personalized and engaging learning experiences, without requiring them to become developers themselves. I am honored to be recognized for this work alongside such a remarkable group of innovators."

Under Ben-Naim's leadership, Smart Sparrow has also partnered on a number of initiatives aimed at improving the way science and medicine are taught and researched. The Inspark Science Network, for example, was established in partnership with Arizona State University -- and was recently awarded over $10 million to create engaging courseware to help educators teach science through exploration, versus the memorization of facts. The network, which is dedicated to the postsecondary success of disadvantaged students in entry-level science, is growing quickly, with more than 30 colleges involved, such as Lone Star College, Miami Dade College, and the Maricopa Community College System. 

Additionally, prior to Inspark, Ben-Naim partnered with four leading medical schools to create the Biomedical Education Skills & Training (BEST) Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that every student and teacher will have access to the best biomedical education. The BEST Network now has more than 1,800 members from around the world.

About Smart Sparrow
Smart Sparrow is a learning design platform for next-generation courseware. It allows any educator to create amazingly engaging and adaptive learning experiences and then continuously improve them using learner analytics. Students are better supported and more motivated to succeed. Smart Sparrow believes in designing tools that support great teaching, and put faculty first to unlock the potential of adaptive learning.

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