A mother entrepreneur finds her passion in creating tools to help every child succeed.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
Dan Dan Yang had traversed the globe looking for educational tools to inspire her daughter (pictured with her) to develop a positive attitude toward lifelong learning. Her dissatisfaction with what was out there, and her child’s fascination with her smartphone — prompted her to realize that needs and interests of children just weren’t being met in the existing market. Consequently, she decided to create VINCI, a safe, child-friendly and technologically advanced early learning system specifically designed for young children. She wanted to engage, educate and empower them — and with a team of forward-thinking educators, developers and designers — that is exactly what she has done. Her own fascinating story is worth a look; here, that passion flows through into her current work as she creates something that every parent would want for his or her child.
Victor: How does VINCI address some of your concerns about early childhood education?
Dan: With VINCI we are trying to standardize early childhood education, using technology as a tool. We all know children are born with a very similar kind of mind. They smile, flip, sit up, and walk all at a similar age. However, their minds develop very differently according to how their environment and surrounding conditions are – how parents interact with them, and how they learn at home and at school. We want to introduce a simple, yet powerful process for parents and teachers to follow to maximize the efficiency of raising smart kids.
Victor: Why technology?
1) Adults don’t have enough time so technology helps to keep everything on track
2) We’ve got a lot more to learn, and a lot more people to compete with, so technology can help to streamline what skills we need to gain
3) Today’s technology, combining touch screen, 3D animation, cloud based computing etc. becomes so much more interactive, fun, and playful, that it simply offers a powerful incentive for children to be interested in (and focused working on). Our case studies tell/show us that when it is VINCI time, kids are calm and focused.
Victor: What does VINCI Blended Learning do? What are the benefits?
Dan: VINCI Blended Learning brings the proven blended pedagogy, which is widely used from higher education to early childhood education. It combines digital learning with traditional curricular materials to achieve learning performance. The digital part needs to be specifically designed to fit to the younger age group.
We see from our case studies the real excitement from children for learning. It’s a huge difference between a teacher trying to get kids focused in a traditional classroom, and a teacher spending all her time coaching individual kids with VINCI Blended Learning (see video).
Victor: How does technology support blended learning?
Dan: Technology makes it fun so kids are focused. Technology makes it easy for teachers because they don’t need to struggle searching for curricular materials. Technology makes it specific when it comes to analyze learning results and to provide individualized recommendations as per VINCI cloud based learning management for the early childhood.
Victor: How does VINCI Blended Learning support early childhood education innovation?
Dan: VINCI Blended Learning uses an innovative way of teaching – getting kids to learn proactively.
The biggest innovation in early childhood is to recognize that every child deserves a chance to succeed, and that we all, parents and teachers, must respect their interests while giving them fun incentives to work hard to achieve.
Thus – VINCI Blended Learning provides clear expectations, it is fun, and it “feels good” to kids, making them happy to work harder for rewarding results.
Victor: Based on your experience working with preschool, schools and districts across the country, what are the greatest challenges they are facing today? And how does VINCI help them overcome those challenges?
Dan: The biggest challenges schools and districts face is that they are expected to do more, with an existing or even less budget. Resources are always a huge issue while everybody is struggling to close the achievement gap.
Thus — VINCI comes to help with technology powered, Common Core mapped blended learning programs that are ready to go for teachers — saving them valuable time thus they can spend more time assisting individual students.
Victor: What else can you tell educators and other leaders in and around education about the value of early childhood education and VINCI?
Dan: Early childhood education is crucial in preparing each child for their future. My team and myself are fully in support of President Obama’s initiative to implement pre-K in schools.
Canada, as an example, has seen its high school dropout numbers declining year by year since 90s, from more than 20% to less than 8% last year. During the same time period in the US dropout rate increased from 12% to over 30%.
The difference is that Canada has a nationwide pre-K system in place as well as countrywide community services for families.
The ever-diverse student population makes the job even more difficult as a lot of kids go to school with language and cultural barriers.
The leaders of this country and education industry must understand that education is NOT just K-12. It starts when the child is born. I hope VINCI will be used as a tool or as an assistant to parents and teachers so they an spend every valuable minute in assisting their children to grow smarter and stronger.
Victor: Tell our readers about your company. What’s your main line of business?
Dan: Rullingnet Corporation, home of VINCI as an early education brand, promotes learning solutions for home and for school. VINCI includes three ingredients: curriculum, learning management, and training. We offer blended learning curriculum that incorporates game based lessons, books and toys. Our learning management is specially designed for young children, with data collection, analysis, and recommendation consolidated into one system. We offer training programs in different formats – guidebook for parents, and professional development for teachers. As each one of us is the product of our environment, we want to use VINCI to connect home and school together so all our efforts are centered around each individual child.
Victor: Could you tell more about the inspiration behind VINCI?
Dan: My young daughter, Hera, was the inspiration behind VINCI. She was a very bright, energetic toddler and like many kids her age she got bored easily! Before having VINCI, she loved to occupy herself with my tablet. But I kept asking myself what she could gain from playing with my device. I was very disappointed in the lack of systematic learning in the tons of apps created. It’s like you can’t get your degree by reading newspapers, I don’t see how my daughter can learn, and especially understand what she was learning, by playing those engaging yet superficial apps. And so, I decided to create a structured solution that would make children of my daughter’s age have fun learning and advance their skills in a systematic way.
Victor: What would you say makes your company unique?
Dan: We want to engage all stakeholders to find a better way of educating our children. We want all children to reach their full potential and VINCI is a unique solution because it brings fun into education and it transforms passive education to interactive and proactive learning.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.” That’s exactly what VINCI does – empowers children through interactive and fun learning where they can be in control.
Victor: Where is your current product emphasis?
Dan: Our current emphasis is for children from toddler age to kindergarten. Our curriculum is leveled and meets or exceeds standards such as Common Core, state specific ECE, or Head Start.
Victor: What does your company ultimately want to achieve?
Dan: Closing the achievement gap and giving every child the opportunity to succeed.
Victor: How do you determine your company’s success?
Dan: When students are passionate about reading and learning math, when teachers are excited about the learning gain of their classrooms, and when parents no longer have to worry about their children’s future.
Victor Rivero is the Editor in Chief of EdTech Digest. The 2014 EdTech Digest Awards Recognition Program nomination period opens August 19, 2013 and closes September 30, 2013. For further information, write to: [email protected]