The development of Kugobi was established based on the educational concepts developed by the founder David Shpigler, the proud father of seven children. As a strong believer of the importance of educational achievement, he struggled to find the right mix of educational tools that would help his children realize their potential in school and beyond. He found that existing approaches tended to be undifferentiated and did not properly account for the individual needs and abilities of children – instead “teaching to the middle” too many times and forcing children to adjust to a predetermined program.
Developing his own program for supplemental educational enrichment, David found that each of his children responded best and achieved optimal results when they were exposed to materials that were best suited to their own level of competency and learning styles. However, compiling the right set of materials for each child involved a painstaking approach of gathering educational materials from different sources and trying best to develop a logical program based on a disparate source of materials.
A wide variety of educational reforms and programs have been championed in a pursuit to improve education in the United States. Some recent ideas include enforcing standards, opening charter schools, providing vouchers for private education, improving teacher pay; two recent federal programs include No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Despite these efforts, by almost any standard the quality of education in this country is lagging, with U.S. schools still languishing in the middle of international rankings, behind the schools of such countries as Estonia and Slovenia.
Technology innovation impacts nearly every industry and enables customers to get a personalized experience. However, for some reason education still lags, with children still largely being taught in the same manner as 100 years ago. Select implementations of technology in education like smart boards don’t really solve the core problem. Instead, what we need is an educational approach that is student-centered, rather than curriculum-centered. True dynamic adaptive learning empowers the student by enabling him/her to be taught according to his/her needs. Existing solutions feature adaptivity limited to student assessment and simple branching protocols rather than using the power of machine learning and cognitive analytics to make education customized for each and every student.
Many parents that we’ve spoken with expressed frustration with existing approaches to help maximize their children’s potential. Interviews that we conducted with hundreds of parents, teachers, and administrators showed that for many, the limitations with respect to the personalization of educational materials to be a chief concern:
- “The great thing about online learning is how advanced it is … the biggest problem is that it is not personalized” – John, father of 8, 11, and 12 year olds
- “Repetition in educational technology may be useful, but it can be a waste of time if the student is ready to move on and the program forces you to spend a certain amount of time on a lesson.” – Rudy, father of 11 year old
- “Offering personalized learning cadence to each kid’s learning capacity is absolutely a great idea.” – Vincent, father of 2 year old
Kugobi brings together innovative pedagogy with true machine learning to deliver value to students by utilizing the leading tools in cognitive analytics that interface with the learning science built into the back end of our system – an approach that results in an online learning system that offers true adaptive learning that responds to the student’s need on a fully dynamic basis. Using this blend, we now have the ability to identify the specific source of difficulty and opportunity for each child in a truly dynamic way.
Kugobi blends adaptive learning technology through machine learning with the pedagogy of standards-based education, principles of Conditions of Learning, and Threshold Concepts educational theory. Using cognitive analytics, Kugobi can identify the potential for difficulty and success to guide each learner down an individualized path. Protocols are in place to integrate the information we receive to create a learner profile and respond to real-time progress monitoring with big data analytics. The true innovation involves the dynamic ability of the program to grow with each learner at their own pace and comprehension as well as improve the pedagogy based on collective data.
David Shpigler – CEO
David Shpigler is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kugobi. Prior to founding Kugobi, he served as President of The Shpigler Group, a strategy management consulting firm for 16 years. He has also worked in the strategy consulting sector for Cambridge Strategic Management Services, Dean & Company, and Accenture. David has also worked in the educational sector, working with students at Huntington Learning Center and The Princeton Review. He holds a M.S. in Education Technology from the University of California, Fullerton and a Masters of Business Administration from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.
Janet Rau – Director of Education
Janet Rau has extensive academic, operational and financial experience in creating innovative educational opportunities. She has spent the last 20 years directly impacting the lives of children through the creation of six schools, foreign language enrichment programs and consulting on multiple smaller projects. For Kugobi, Janet is taking her dedication to teaching the individual learner to help create a transformative digital learning experience for each of our students. Janet is an alumna of the University of South Dakota & The University of Maryland College Park. A lifelong learner, Janet is currently pursuing a MEd with Innovative Ed from the University of Michigan.
Lexy Petrick – Director of Marketing
Lexy Petrick has worked in several facets of sales and marketing in the last 30 years in the hospitality, home improvement and recruiting sectors. As Senior VP of American Home Craftsman she coordinated multiple marketing strategies including phone room management, TV and direct mail marketing campaigns. She holds a BS from the College of Business at the University of New Orleans.
“Who benefits from Kugobi?”
Students seeking to achieve more
The struggles of the educational system in the United States are well documented, especially when compared to other nations of the world. Numerous studies, blue ribbon panels, laws and regulations have been pursued, and billions of dollars have been spent on school reforms. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that education has not meaningfully changed in the past quarter century and educational results have not improved.
There exists a distinct need to have a truly dynamic learning system that is responsive to students. It is the lack of progress in this field – where the overwhelming majority of educational technology programs feature largely static content that does not adjust to the needs of the learner – that drives the need for the solution being developed by Kugobi. Parents seek solutions that fit the needs of their children, and instead are forced to choose from among options that feature limited if any degree of responsiveness to their children’s true learning needs. Kugobi’s approach caters to the specific needs that simply cannot be addressed with the existing slate of programs.
Parents with gifted and talented children often express frustration with existing solutions that don’t support educational potential. Simple branching algorithms within existing programs typically do not respond well to gifted students, leaving them frustrated and trying to “game” the system to get to more challenging and appropriate content. Kugobi responds to a student’s true potential – not their grade – and delivers the content at the level of achievement and potential they have.
Homeschooling parents seek solutions to educate their children absent a conventional classroom environment. However, with standards changing constantly, it is difficult for parents to know about the latest developments in education. Kugobi enables students to learn independently, outside of the classroom, but with all of the consistent rigors of a traditional education.
Parents of learning disabled students struggle with the need to identify solutions that maximize the chance for their children to succeed. By utilizing cognitive analytics, the Kugobi platform enables the development of an optimized learning approach that is customized to the student’s needs. Each lesson and learning activity is delivered based on the framework established by each student’s performance and learning modality – not just based on a “typical” student.
Learning does not occur at a steady age-affixed pace. Children progress at a pace determined by their readiness for and experience with core concepts. For instance, a young child who is given objects to play with will begin to group and organize those objects as a natural developmental stage. They will begin to use categorizing language, “Look at all the red ones, red is my favorite color”. This child is now primed for the introduction of the scientific and mathematical concept of categorization in an academic sense.
That’s what Kugobi is all about, giving kids a space to explore concepts in a game-like setting to let our system find those Threshold Concepts that they are ready to learn. We call them “Light Bulbs” for our younger students and “Troublesome Knowledge” for our more mature users.
When students are logged into “Explorer Mode”, Kugobi is hard at work monitoring a whole range of learning styles and adapting to each individual student as they progress. That way, Kugobi is able to present concepts in the way that is most effective for that student and more effective means that they break through more quickly and easily. A sense of accomplishment is a huge motivating factor for students.
How does Kugobi do it?
We sat down with master teachers and asked them to think about everything they look at as they evaluate how to best teach students. They came up with a list of more than a thousand areas to track! We then asked them to design activities for our Explorer Mode to help Kugobi track those areas as well. By harnessing machine learning technology, Kugobi is learning how to “think” like a teacher. Kugobi learns and adapts with your child so that the experience becomes more tailored each step of the way.