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The Tech Entrepreneur Behind Coursera Is Now Designing a Better Online Classroom

And—on the product front—new conduits of communication and emotional intelligence are designed to make kids feel closer at a time when so much in our lives is remote.

Logitech’s wireless‚ candy-colored Pop Keys keyboards have

When the pandemic hit, Dan Avida and Daphne Koller saw their two daughters’ schooling change overnight. “We didn’t think they were getting a particularly good education on Zoom‚ which was designed for video conferencing‚ not learning‚” says Avida.

The couple saw their kids checking out social media or even movies during class. So Avida‚ a tech entrepreneur‚ and Koller‚ a computer scientist who cofounded Coursera‚ the online education platform‚ in 2012‚ started thinking about what a product designed specifically for online classrooms might look like. Engageli went live seven months later.

Engageli organizes students into virtual tables of up to 10 each‚ an idea Avida and Koller got from their daughters‚ whose high school uses a similar collaborative setup instead of individual desks. This lets a student ask a peer for help‚ rather than interrupt the entire class‚ giving both students a moment to synthesize the lesson in question.

The tables allow for smaller side conversations in a fluid way that Zoom or Google Meet does not. For teachers who might wonder if students are paying attention during a presentation‚ Engageli includes a system of visual tags that appear on students’ screens as quick polls and quizzes. This streamlines the lesson by cutting down on toggling between slides‚ and the quiz results give instructors an idea of who’s still tuning in.

Engageli licenses directly with institutions—for now‚ mostly higher ed—and is young enough that it’s measuring success by how many have adopted the platform. But the start-up has also raised $47.5 million‚ at least some of which will go toward collecting more feedback from instructors and students on how to improve the user experience. The company is geared toward bridging in-person and online learning so that students feel equally connected in both settings.

Products for Remote Connection

Logitech Pop Keys

Logitech’s wireless‚ candy-colored Pop Keys keyboards have

Logitech’s wireless‚ candy-colored Pop Keys keyboards have “typewriter-style” mechanical keys with a retro feel but are very much designed for the young users of today. They come with eight programmable emoji keys and 12 shortcut keys for voice-to-text memos and quick muting during video calls or class.

Photo: Jamie Chung

The Moxie educational robot looks like a Pixar character with its range of facial expressions but comes packed with machine learning technology that enables it to provide its kid-owner personalized lessons on storytelling‚ mindfulness‚ and emotional regulation.

The Moxie educational robot looks like a Pixar character with its range of facial expressions but comes packed with machine learning technology that enables it to provide its kid-owner personalized lessons on storytelling‚ mindfulness‚ and emotional regulation.

Photo by Jamie Chung

Yoto is a full-service bedside companion: Besides night light, alarm clock, and sleep-training functions, its audio player keeps kids entertained. Little ones just pop in a card to hear classic stories, meditation prompts, or sleep sounds.

Yoto is a full-service bedside companion: Besides night light, alarm clock, and sleep-training functions, its audio player keeps kids entertained. Little ones just pop in a card to hear classic stories, meditation prompts, or sleep sounds.

Photo by Jamie Chung

See the full story on Dwell.com: The Tech Entrepreneur Behind Coursera Is Now Designing a Better Online Classroom

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