Teachers & Technology: Unlocking Learning Potential through Powerful Partnership

Three influences on the future of education

An article in today’s New York Times highlighted the work that technology philanthropists like Marc Benioff, Mark Zuckerberg, and Reed Hastings are doing to support schools and spur innovation in education. We applaud the commitment of these CEOs to use their talents, passions, and resources to improve equity and learning outcomes for all students.

At DreamBox Learning, we are hopeful about the future of education because of three converging influences:
  1. Parents understand that their children need to be prepared for an information-driven, globalized economy that has technology at its core. Increasingly, parents are demanding that schools deliver more so that their kids just don’t survive and thrive in the next century, but indeed drive it as innovators and masters of their own destiny.
  2. New technologies are creating new possibilities for all learners (adults and children) because of their ability to personalize and differentiate learning and motivate students to persist through challenge toward academic competency. These nimble technologies, when used in partnership with the wide range of learning guardians (teachers, tutors, parents, administrators) can help customize learning for optimal impact. These responsive technologies that get to know us as we use them can literally learn the learner as the learner learns, and in doing so, give each student the challenge or support they need right when they need it.
  3. New investors in learning innovation are committed to ensuring that education is not left in the dust as innovations shape other industries and unlock human potential. It’s easy for CEOs of global technology firms to avoid getting involved in education, but when they can make education a priority and intentionally engage in it to improve, great things can happen.

That said, district administrators, teachers, and parents need—and deserve—to know that the tools and technologies they are bringing into the classroom will improve outcomes for students and support teachers as they serve their students. We agree that there needs to be more third party research in this area to identify what works, in what conditions, and what doesn’t (and why). At DreamBox, we want our school partners to have confidence when they choose DreamBox as a key technology tool for their classroom, and we seek to support them so that they feel more successful with DreamBox than without it.

Today, there are instructional technology tools used in schools that are showing extraordinary results and give us the motivation to continue research and development to understand how we can make the biggest impact for students and teachers. Far from diminishing the role of the teacher in the classroom, our mission at DreamBox is to support and empower teachers with data that can be used to meet each individual student where he or she is in the learning process. Third-party research—as well as the stories that we hear every day from the thousands of teachers and administrators that we work with across the country—like this one from Wichita—clearly show the impact that DreamBox has on math learning in young students.

Whether you are a pessimist or an optimist at heart about the potential of technology to improve education, I hope one thing that we can agree on is this: we can’t accept the status quo in education. We can’t stand still, because the world around us will not stand still. It is our duty as education professionals—and as global citizens—to do everything we can to prepare all students for the future that they will face by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to succeed.

Jessie Woolley-Wilson

Throughout her life and career, Jessie Woolley-Wilson has been driven by a singular belief that all children need and deserve high-quality learning opportunities, regardless of who they are or where they live. She believes that by supporting great teaching and learning, everyone wins: kids, families, communities and the world. Jessie has worked in the education technology space for nearly 20 years to support school and district leaders to improve learning and life outcomes for K-12 students.

Jessie joined DreamBox Learning® in 2010 as Chair, President, and CEO. The startup software company had pioneered Intelligent Adaptive Learning™ in 2006 and began partnering with schools soon after Jessie joined. Today, DreamBox serves nearly 3 million K-8 students and approximately 120,000 teachers. The company provided more than 350 million math lessons across the U.S. and Canada in 2017.

Jessie recently secured a $130 million investment in DreamBox from The Rise Fund, a global impact investing fund managed by TPG Growth. Prior to joining DreamBox, Jessie served as president of Blackboard’s K-12 Group and LeapFrog SchoolHouse, the K-12 division of LeapFrog Enterprises. Jessie also served in leadership positions at collegeboard.com, the interactive division of The College Board, and at Kaplan, the leading test preparation company in the U.S.

Jessie supports the broader K12 industry by serving on the boards of several educational organizations including Rosetta Stone, Newsela, the Western Governors University Board of Trustees, and Ursuline Academy. She is also a board member for Boeing Employees Credit Union, Pacific Science Center, and The Bullitt Foundation. She has been a featured speaker at international events including TEDx Rainier, SXSWedu, DENT and GeekWire Summit 2018.

Jessie is a two-time recipient of EdTech Digest’s EdTech Leadership Award for her work in transformative innovation in education and honored her as one of 2018’s Top 100 Influencers in EdTech. Seattle Business Magazine awarded Jessie the 2015 Executive Excellence Award in the CEO of the Year category and Forbes placed her on its “Impact 15” list for being a disruptor in education. The Puget Sound Business Journal honored Jessie as a “Woman of Influence” and 425 Magazine named her as one of eight “Unstoppable Eastside Women” for having a clear focus on the greater good. Additionally, The New York Times has profiled Jessie and her leadership style in their Corner Office column.

Jessie holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from the University of Virginia. She is also a 2007 Henry Crown Fellow and moderator for the Aspen Institute.
Jessie Woolley-Wilson