Learn 5 key communication insights for educators, including the positive impact of technology in the classroom.  Chris Besse shares how edtech platforms like Edsby make education more student-centric, they enable communication and collaboration, they enable accessibility and immediacy of information, and they encourage students to learn how to learn.



Chris Besse & Edsby

Andrea Wojnicki & Chris Besse at the Ensemble Future of Learning conference, October 2020

Andrea Wojnicki & Chris Besse at

“THE FUTURE OF LEARNING” Ensemble Conference, October 2020


Other Resources for Educators

Talk About Talk & Dr. Andrea Wojnicki



Dr. Andrea Wojnicki: Thanks so much for being here, Chris. 

Chris Besse: Oh, pleasure, Andrea, thank you for having me. 

AW: As I told you before, Chris, two of my kids go to a school that’s been using Edsby for years. And I’m a big fan. So I thought, why don’t we start by having you share with everyone? What is Edsby?

CB: That is awesome. I’m so glad that your kids are using it, and that you like it. So Edsby is really the most comprehensive digital learning and data system available in K to 12. It really is a central, virtual meeting spot for students and teachers, administrators and parents. It keeps everyone in the loop and engages all the stakeholders. So for students, they can see their class schedules and their assignments, they interact in a familiar private social media-like system, safe from the public internet. Parents see their child’s homework and grades. And even better, they get a window into their child’s. Teachers get course planning, attendance, assessment tools. And administrators can access district wide analytics and identify students at risk. Everybody gets what they need in real time in one app.

AW: I would love to elaborate in a minute on that collaboration, that communication, that’s a huge benefit of Edsby. But I just want to back up a minute and kind of state the obvious with what’s been going on in the world with the global pandemic, I’ve observed that Edsby and other education platforms have really accelerated in terms of their adoption and their proliferation in various educational environments. Can you talk a little bit about that?

CB: Yeah, absolutely. I mean,  you talk to anybody who’s in the digital education space, and they would say they’ve had rapid adoption ever since COVID-19 happened. COVID – for education, it’s been a real accelerator. And the reason is because like every other industry, we were forced to do things differently.  Education has stuck to the status quo for so many years. What would the OECD say? They know that student engagement has plummeted over the last 10 years and lost pace with technological advances.  the education sector has one of the slowest adoption rates for digital technologies at two to 3% of total spending. And generally speaking, if you walked into a classroom today, it wouldn’t be all that different than what it looked like when we were in school, or even when our parents were in school:  teacher centric, lectures and textbooks .

AW: right. 

CB: But what education has done extremely well is research. Research on optimizing what the learning environment should look like, and how to prepare our kids for the world that awaits them. The problem is there’s been this kind of buffer between what we know is good for learning, and what we’re actually doing for learning. And some of that research, I’d say, is what are those skills and competencies required for today’s learner?  We hear about 21st century learning. What does that mean? Well, it means how do we build competency in our kids around creativity, around communication, collaboration, critical thinking, computing and character education? These are vital to students in their learning as we move forward? How do we move to a student-centric learning model where students are empowered in their own learning, where teachers are guiding and framing and assessing and coaching? And then lastly, how do we leverage digital tools to drive greater efficiencies in the learning process. So we’ve had this disconnect between what we know is best and implementing what is best. So COVID hits in March. 98% of the world’s student population’s schools close. We have no choice but to move to this alternative mode of education delivery. I mean, this was just thrown upon us, and it was thrown upon education leaders and educators and teachers, etc. And they had to transition on the fly, as did parents. I mean, all of a sudden, parents were hosting the school.

AW: Right. 

CB: And I heard this great quote from one of Canada’s leading superintendents, where he called the pandemic “a fuel for transformation”. And it’s no different than any other sector. Businesses are operating remotely, what’s happened to restaurants, what’s happened to just our social lives, etc. We’ve learned to adapt because that’s what human beings do. And education is no different. So the barriers protecting the status quo have been forced down, and we now have this incredible opportunity to implement what we already know is best for learning. 

AW: Right. So I love that take, there is a silver lining, right? It has served as a catalyst to accelerate our advancement in education, in medicine, and some businesses have pivoted and flourished as well. Can you talk a little bit about how the adoption of educational technology platforms like Edsby will improve learning opportunities for students? How is it going to enrich the learning experience?

CB: Well, at the core of it is it optimizing communication, collaboration and connection between the stakeholders in learning, namely, obviously, the student, the teacher, and the parent, those are the key stakeholders. And so you need some sort of central communication tool that allows that to happen.

AW: So can I just interject and say, as a parent, it is fantastic to have access to this platform where I can see what’s upcoming. So on the weekend, I can say, hey, you have a test on Tuesday, you need to study. And also I can see test scores immediately. I don’t have to wait for report cards, and communication and collaboration really is – are the two words that I would say, kind of sum up one of the biggest benefits, at least as a parent. 

CB: Historically, students have been the gatekeepers of information flow between the school and the home. What information did you have about your child’s learning? iI really came in three modes. One was the report card you mentioned. And what’s a report card? It’s a piece of paper that comes out three times a year, and with a bunch of numbers or letters on it. What does that really mean about my child’s learning? So you have that. And then you have these parent teacher interviews, which are more like speed dating events, where you have your five minutes, you get into no depth really, and understanding regarding how your child is doing. And then the third, and probably most important flow of information comes from your own child. And that’s usually,  how was school today? What did you do at school today? And  the typical answer of a child is I’m not sure, I don’t know. So you don’t really get a lot of information.

AW: How was your day? Great. What did you learn? Nothing.

CB: Exactly. And so now, when, as you said, you have a front row seat at your child’s learning, because you have access to their learning. The conversation when your child gets home changes, it’s not what did you do at school today? It’s, hey, I saw you speaking French, what were you saying? That was really cool. Or, I saw your project you were presenting that was really interesting. And now your child lights up, because they want to tell you, and it changes the dynamics. So the scientists would say that is so powerful around brain development, etc., and around empowering kids around their learning. So you’re absolutely right, that’s one of the best thing. And I would add, also, if you’re a straight-A student, or you have a child as a straight-A student, that’s not as much an issue, but many of our kids are vulnerable, they’re having issues learning. They’re stressed. And when a parent can actually see and help and support…  Because parents want to do anything for their child. And as you said, when you can see that they’ve got a homework assignment due next week, or a test that they’re preparing for, at least you can remind them and encourage them to prepare. So for parents, it brings them right into the equation.

AW: So you mentioned that education platforms like Edsby are shifting the focus from being teacher-centric, to student-centric. And that’s a little bit of what you’re describing. Can you elaborate on that a little?

CB: Yeah. So it’s really about allowing students to take ownership of their learning. So that the teacher is more framing the learning, supporting the learner and coaching them through their learning experience. So delivery can certainly be student-led and teacher framed.

AW: right. 

CB: When students are empowered around their learning, they’re obviously more engaged, because they own their own learning. And when they’re more engaged, the learning is just so much richer. So if a student can come in, and they can see what they’re responsible for learning, they can go through their course content, they can provide that information to their teacher, their teacher can give them immediate feedback on that… It just changes the learning process. They’re not sitting back sitting in their seat, listening to a teacher with their 25 other peers, looking up at a blackboard and trting to take that in. It’s really the opposite of that. 

AW: So as you’re describing that, you’re reminding me of a thought that I had, as I was preparing for this interview, I’d never explicitly thought about this before. But online platforms like Edsby are teaching our children how to learn, right? They’re not being passive, they’re learning to be proactive to accessing the various resources that are available to them, obviously, on the Edsby platform itself, and then beyond. And that really excites me, because I’m hoping that that’s going to enable my children and all children around the world to become more proactive learners, lifelong learners with a growth mindset. Do you guys have any learnings or insight about that?

CB: Of course,  we’re all lifelong learners. We go through a stage in our life when we’re young, where we go to formal institutions to actually develop the skills and competencies to be successful adults. Prior to the internet, let’s say where information was not as available as it is today, we had to provide that content and information as teachers to our students. As the world has evolved, there is so much information out there that students can access anytime, anywhere. So it’s not about learning the facts. It’s about dealing with it. So that’s where these competencies are so important. You need to teach our kids to be critical thinkers, we need to learn how to learn. I mean, that is most important. And I think that’s always been the purpose of our educational system. But with technology giving us access to subject matter experts, to all the information out there. It’s so very, very important. So you nailed it. It’s all about learning to learn.

AW: Yeah, I mean, it’s multimedia. And then even within each media type, it’s overwhelming the amount of resources that we have access to. 

CB: Yeah. 

AW: Is there anything else you want to add?

CB: I’d say just to other stakeholders, I think, these types of technologies are very important.  For teachers, teachers spend only 49% of their professional time interacting with their students. And that’s because of the administrative and prep time those burdens that sits upon them. One of the other areas that we look at, and it’s built into Edsby, is to take that burden off. Lessen it.  The less time they can spend preparing and administrating, it’s just better for our kids,

AW: I can see that.

CB: And then for administrators, we live in a data world now. And on top of all the efficiency that is gained on the system management, there’s a wealth of analytics that we provide that can help identify students at risk. You know, diagnosising students with learning issues, we usually are diagnosing them a little too late. So these are lagging indicators. But now with the data that we’re able to access, with these data sets, we can actually start to look at some patterns. And we can identify kids at risk. So more lead indicators, so that if they’re going to have some reading issues, we can pick that up when they’re 5,6,7 years old, rather than when they’re eight, nine years old, when it’s a lot more difficult to intervene on that. So I think the data analytics is also really, really important for our learners.

AW: That’s absolutely true. And I can tell you as a parent that I have immediate access right to what happened in my kids class today. 

CB: Yeah, so there’s no more report card lag and surprise report cards so there’s a report card every day. That’s the that’s the nice thing is you can go every day and see how they’re doing. Exactly. 

AW: Thank you so much. 

CB: You’re welcome. 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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