I recently had the pleasure of sitting down again with Heather Hiles, the CEO of Pathbrite™. One thing I noticed from our previous interview is that Heather is one smart entrepreneur. For a first-time entrepreneur, she is not only getting it right and getting “base hits”, but she is slugging balls out of the park!
As a former educator, I understand the complexity of the bureaucratic processes of secondary and post-secondary education systems. That is why I am amazed and extremely excited at how fast Pathbrite is storming through the education system and slugging home-runs. I mean they just had their formal product launch in April 2012 and was a runner-up in NBC’s Education Nation Innovation Challenge in October 2012, which hails in comparison to the recent contractual partnerships they are forming with education pillars.
Pathbrite’s latest announcement is their agreement with the largest educational publisher in the world, McGraw-Hill. This partnership is pivotal in breaking down the longstanding blockade that universities have had with student data. The two companies are in the early stages of integrating Pathbrite’s next-generation digital portfolio platform with McGraw-Hill Campus™, which will greatly benefit students and faculty. McGraw-Hill Campus has long been known for its course integration system that allows university faculty access to all of McGraw-Hill Education’s leading educational content and technology right from an institution’s very own learning management system. After the full integration of the two products, McGraw-Hill will provide easy access to Pathbrite’s next-generation digital portfolio to serve students and educators alike.
“Many colleges and universities today are facing immense challenges when it comes to admissions, compliance and job placement,” said Tom Malek, vice president of Learning Solutions and Services for McGraw-Hill Higher Education. “Our collaboration with Pathbrite will provide institutions with an effective, affordable means of addressing these critical issues, all the while helping institutions improve the digital literacy skills of their students.”
Pathbrite’s technology is providing a smarter, more flexible, and Web 2.0 way of accessing student learning and showcasing their skills for employment opportunities. In addition, Pathbrite is allowing students to collect, curate, and share the entire collection of their learning and achievements in seamless technical way.
Pathbrite’s Web 2.0 portfolios demonstrate cognition and knowledge in ways that traditional bubble-tests just can’t. Data has shown that the portfolios help with student self-reflection, course passage rates and critical thinking skills, among many other benefits. To top it all off, students preparing to enter the workforce can now share their portfolios with potential employers as evidence of their work product, presentations, writing samples and internships.
Pathbrite is currently piloting its cloud-based portfolio platform at colleges and universities throughout the country, including: DePaul University, Stanford University, The Ohio State University, UC Santa Cruz, University of Illinois, University of Miami, University of Texas at Tyler, the Community Colleges of Baltimore County, San Jose State University, and many others. Features included as part of the Pathbrite platform make social learning and assessment a core experience for users. With private sharing, notifications, comments, publishing to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and its upcoming course-planning features for faculty, Pathbrite is focused on reinvigorating the use of portfolios as a core educational experience.
However, they are not done with helping forge a better future for post-secondary education. Pathbrite is finalizing a groundbreaking deal with ACT (American College Test) that will allow them do something that even the ACT organization is unable to do. Pathbrite will be the first and only providers of authenticated electronic test scores from ACT. With a one-time lifetime fee, users will now be able to get authenticated copies of their test scores to share with universities and employers. Heather says they have a few more partnerships they are finalizing, including doing an integration with major universities delivering up authenticated secure copies of transcripts.
Heather and her team are champions of the data liberation movement among colleges and universities. As Heather mentioned in her speech last year at SXSWedu, it is time for the “liberation of data”. Instead of schools owning a students data, students begin to decide when, where, and how they want to share their own data. In a world of post-secondary education of self-serving bureaucracies, Pathbrite is doing what many have not been able to do in years past. I can honestly say, the future of technology adaptation in education now seems very bright with smart, pioneering companies like Pathbrite paving the way.
- Have a crystal clear value proposition to your potential partners.
- Know what you want from them in terms of support.
- Know your potential partners divisions and exactly where you will fit best and their needs.
- Apply to conference Startup Alley’s and competitions.
- Be witty and creative when it comes to getting into conversations with potential partners.
- Don’t quit if your original products early adopters leave…adapt and evolve!
- Be relentless and just go after it!