Innovative Projects Compete at the NMC Future of Education Summit

From January 22-24, 90 thought leaders, thinkers and educators from all over the world gathered in Austin, Texas for the NMC Horizon Project Summit — a three day meeting centered on gathering and exchanging ideas to identify influential trends and challenges that will shape the future of education.

In the spirit of emphasizing actionable ideas, the NMC invited eight visionaries who are leading special projects that encompass these important trends, as well as solutions for the challenges. The NMC debuted its very first “NMC Shark Tank” — a take on the start-up focused reality TV series where these project leaders pitched their big ideas to a panel of education experts, start-up savants, funders, and others.

Representing widely diverse organizations, institutions, and causes — both for profit and non-profit, the presenters had ten minutes to convince the judges that their project team would put the prize — a $2,500 check — to its best use.

First round:

Sarah Hassan
Toronto, Canada

Fernanda Da Costa
Axis 3D
Curitiba, Brazil

Saad Alam and Lee Joke
New York City

Suzanne Sarraf
National Gallery of Art
Washington, D.C.

Hiroaki Ogata
Tokushima, Japan

Cristina Mattos Assumpção
Colegio Bandeirantes
São Paulo, Brazil

Lisa Stephens
New York City

Aleksander Dietrichson
X-Ray Research
New York City


After an initial round of constructive feedback, the judges handed in their scorecards. The NMC staff quickly tallied up the points, and minutes later, the three presenters with the highest scores were called back for another chance to pitch their ideas the following day.

Final round:

Sarah Hassan, Education Program Officer for TakingITGlobal, presented her organization’s mission of promoting global and civic engagement among youth worldwide. Hassan was quick on her feet when one of the judges requested she dream up a press release for TakingItGlobal in 2030.

Saad Alam and Lee Jokl, co-founders of Citelighter, kicked off their second round with a video that incorporated reflections about Wicked Problems, demonstrating how their research tool fit into the bigger picture of enhancing learning. They also gave the judges a closer look into cognitive prints and what these insights into student behaviors can do for teachers.

Aleksander Dietrichson, principle researcher behind X-Ray Research, made a strong case for his learner analytics platform, and was able to dive deeper into what the innovative tool could do for teachers and institutions. Per the judges’ request, he also explained the idea behind analytics software as if he were speaking to his grandmother. When he was done, he asked, “Does that make sense, Grandma?”

The presentations concluded with a round of applause for the impressive array of projects, but there could only be one winner.

After a brief huddle, the judges announced the prizewinner – Citelighter!

Be on the lookout for opportunities to fund YOUR big idea during the 2013 NMC Summer Conference in June!

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