An edtech exec and father delivers for clients worldwide.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
As a father of a son on the autism spectrum, part of what makes Sam Nord happiest is making solutions available that create inclusive experiences. As Vice President of Global Sales at Listen Technologies, a leading provider of advanced wireless listening solutions, Sam is doing just that. Since the company’s founding in 1998, the company has set out to build a superior product for people with hearing loss to hear clearly in challenging environments. Today, Listen solutions are used in a variety of venues and settings including, houses of worship, higher education facilities, performing arts centers, courtrooms, on leisure tours, and in manufacturing plants. Listen enables venues to entertain, teach, and engage with the world and its limitless possibilities by delivering the right information at the right time and place—without a hitch. The Utah-based company has a global partner network and is a leader in personal and assistive listening. Here, Sam provides his perspective on learning technologies in today’s world.
As we emerge from a post-pandemic world, what trends do you see in the education marketplace regarding purchasing attitudes, reach for tech solutions in schools, etc.?
During the pandemic, we witnessed a trend toward hybrid or online learning. Now, while hybrid learning seems here to stay, we see a shift in focus to how to make a great classroom experience. Simultaneously, we are seeing a trend toward increased recognition of the need for DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) in education which of course plays right into the need to ensure everyone has equal access to a great learning environment. Whereas including assistive listening systems in a learning environment in the past was often more about checking a box (are we meeting code?), we are seeing educational institutions thinking more along the lines of delivering a positive, inclusive experience. Thinking has shifted from checking the box to “are we providing something that is going to be utilized, is desired by our end users, and will provide a seamless experience for our students?”
As we move into the years ahead, what is—or should be—tech’s role in learning?
Technology should serve to enhance the learning experience. I think back to when I was in school – which seems like the technology Middle Ages compared to today – and how dry the environment was relative to how immersive and interactive things can be now. Technology today can promote better engagement and retention. At the same time, technology needs to be seamless and easy to utilize. The expectation should never be that an instructor needs to be a technology expert or needs to go through hours and hours of training to teach a class.
Congrats on your recognition as part of The EdTech Awards from EdTech Digest, what does this honor mean for your team?
Thank you! The education sector represents a very large portion of our business, so receiving an award that recognizes a tool we have made as being valuable to this sector is extremely rewarding because that was absolutely a huge part of our goal in developing this product.
These past couple years, how’s it been—and how does it look moving forward?
We have been very fortunate to have seen tremendous growth over the past few years. We get our best product feedback from our customer base, so some of the more rewarding aspects of the past couple of years have been launching products that came from customer requests.
For example, this year we launched a Listen EVERYWHERE Wi-Fi Audio Receiver after hearing feedback over and over from our clients (especially in the education sector) looking for a dedicated receiver to support the Listen EVERYWHERE system. The Listen EVERYWHERE Wi-Fi Audio Receiver is for Listen EVERYWHERE users who do not have or prefer not to use a personal smartphone or smart device. It helps schools and universities meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance while still giving users the option to receive assistive listening through their own smartphones. It lets end users be accommodated in the way they prefer.
Without getting overly specific, I can say 2023 and subsequent years are going to be very exciting, our roadmap of product development projects is full.
What’s ahead for learning and technology—what sort of trends are you keeping your eyes on, and what are some hopeful thoughts for the industry (edtech) as a whole?
As a company in the assistive listening space of course we are always interested in how technology that provides inclusivity for all regardless of physical or mental challenges will continue to proliferate. At Listen Technologies, a shared belief that motivates our work is “everyone deserves the same great experience.” Technology can help make that a reality, so I look forward to the continued development of technology that helps realize that goal.
Victor Rivero is the Editor-in-Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: email@example.com