SOURCE: Smart Sparrow

Smart Sparrow

September 30, 2014 06:00 ET

Smart Sparrow Selected in $20 Million Investment for Next Generation Courseware Challenge Competition

Smart Science Network Will Deliver Next Generation Courseware to Improve Success Rates for Low-Income and Disadvantaged College Students

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - Sep 30, 2014) - Founded in 2011 by Dr. Dror Ben-Naim at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Smart Sparrow is an adaptive eLearning platform that enables educators to create rich, interactive and adaptive learning experiences. In partnership with Arizona State University (ASU), Smart Sparrow will utilize the grant to establish the Smart Science Network, a consortium of science educators dedicated to rethinking science education and deepening students' learning and engagement in high-enrollment, introductory science courses. Founding partners in the Smart Science Network include ASU, Achieving the Dream, The University of Texas at Arlington, and e*mersion.

The Smart Science Network will leverage Smart Sparrow's proven technology to develop next generation courseware called "Smart Courses" that utilize a transdisciplinary approach to improve student success in science courses with traditionally high failure rates.

"We are inspired by the challenge," said Dr. Dror Ben-Naim, CEO and Founder of Smart Sparrow. "This opportunity allows us to empower teachers to create learning experiences that harness the power of technology to scale the magic of great classroom instruction. We are proud to establish a world-leading team of experts, and contribute toward creating tools that will have a lasting and significant impact on student success."

The Smart Sparrow platform incorporates tools designed to allow faculty members to create and share next-generation courseware, with an emphasis on allowing individual educators to exert the maximum level of pedagogical control, understand their students' learning with analytics, and tailor courseware to the unique needs of their students.

"We are excited about this project because it exemplifies key design aspirations of ASU as a New American University," said ASU President, Dr. Michael Crow. "It seeks to transform society, enable student success, and fuse intellectual disciplines. We look forward to joining with Smart Sparrow to invest in new ways to educate through exploration."

Ariel Anbar, a President's Professor in the School of Earth & Space Exploration at ASU, will guide the Smart Science Network consortium in the development of two "Smart Courses" that teach basic science concepts through the exploration of intriguing questions, using game-like interactive, adaptive simulations, placing traditional science content in a compelling context. The first Smart Course will be an extension of the highly successful ASU online course, Habitable Worlds, which centers around one of the most profound questions in science: are we alone in the Universe?

"Science is rational exploration of the unknown, not just mastery of what is known," said Anbar. "Smart Courses will not be about memorizing facts and answers, but about using logic and reasoning to solve problems, and to understand uncertainties, at the frontiers of knowledge."

With help from Achieving the Dream, the nation's most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for community college student success and completion, the Smart Courses will reach hundreds of thousands of low-income and traditionally underserved students. Achieving the Dream will work to increase awareness among colleges and engage faculty.

The research and evaluation component of the new project will be led by George Siemens, executive director of The University of Texas at Arlington's Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge Lab (LINK).

"This is a great opportunity to examine how students learn in a digital learning environment where they're using rich immersive technologies and a program that lets students move through curriculum in a way in which they're comfortable and which adapts to their needs," said Siemens, an internationally known technology and education innovator.

For more information or to register in the Smart Science Network please visit http://www.smartsciencenetwork.org/.

About Smart Sparrow
Smart Sparrow is an Australian ed-tech start-up pioneering adaptive and personalized learning technology. It was founded by Dr Dror Ben Naim who previously led a research group in Intelligent Tutoring Systems and Educational Data Mining at the UNSW resulting in the development of Smart Sparrow's Adaptive eLearning Platform. Smart Sparrow was launched in Sydney (2012) after raising a Series A investment from early-stage venture investors OneVentures and Uniseed, and recently opened offices in San Francisco (2014) following a further $10 million in venture capital investment from London-based Yellow Brick Capital. It is the technology partner for a number of teaching networks alongside the BEST Network, including a Smart Science Initiative developing engaging digital 'quests' and virtual learning environments to improve science education for Australian high schools.

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