SMILING DIGITAL SCRAPBOOK FOUNDER
Sitting down and talking with Buncee founder and CEO Marie Arturi felt like a fireside chat. She includes me as she discusses her company; like I am on the team, also feverishly working to make education fun with technology. She asks about my work and my daughter’s homeschooling. We talk about her family, and how she includes them in her mission. She tells me about a time she brainstormed with her family figuring out a name for the storytelling company. Her son says the word “bungee,” and from that, Arturi coins the word “buncee.” It sticks. In an email, where I have mentioned it is Earth Day, she responds with a Buncee Earth Day greeting. Such return-fire of camaraderie is rare in a CEO.
“As a mother, a daughter of a teacher, and tech-enthusiast or geek, working in educational technology is a natural fit. I worked in technology many years ago prior to Buncee, and while my children were growing up, I was always looking for ways to engage my kids in their learning or researching new gadgets for them. I feel as though many of my passions are aligned working in this industry,” explains Arturi.
The origin of Buncee is from trying to think of a way she could send an attractive, digital scrapbook with photos, videos and documents as a thank you to all of the clinicians and scientists at the conference for her family’s foundation, the Daniella Maria Arturi Foundation. With none available, she decides to develop one by working closely with developers.
The digital platform helps students and educators create interactive classroom content. The educational company boasts over a dozen awards in the Ed-Tech arena. The company’s latest award is the 2018 ED Tech Award for Best Presentation Solution.
She focuses her attention on keeping the company's mission of empowering students' voice and helping educators increase classroom engagement. “It is also a priority that we do this while providing a safe, secure environment for educators and students to create and share," explains Arturi.
Arturi works with the company’s developers implementing educator and student feedback into development. She collaborates on global projects and marketing campaigns via Skype. “My goal is to make sure all we do supports and strengthens our mission.”
And, she reminds her developers, “Channel a third grader and make it easy.”
Arturi understands school administrators and educators are busy people. “With district and school meetings, parent conferences, curriculum planning, testing, professional development, and so much more, time is a valuable resource to schools. So even when a school has seen the great impact Buncee has had on learning and believes it will be a great fit for their students, having enough time is still an obstacle to implementation.”
Buncee ensures the implementation of the product is as seamless as possible. As the CEO of Buncee, it is her responsibility that their customer service is always at the ready, and that Buncee is easily accessible. “With Google Classroom and Microsoft Office 365 Sync, integrating Buncee into the classroom is painless. Our live-help chat is available 9-5 EDT, but our customer service truly works 24/7, answering any questions on social media almost instantly. By offering free weekly webinars and school stories on our blog and social media, schools can easily learn more about the product. Our community is also a resource for those wanting to learn more, as they always share examples, and are willing to lend a hand to a new Buncee-er.”
And yet, the students grasp Buncee quickly. Teachers report how helpful it is to get started. “We hear countless anecdotes about how the students jump right in and get to work creating!” adds Arturi.
Barbie Monty, a fifth-grade teacher at Carrollwood Day School in Tampa Bay, Florida. Writes on her blog Buncee Creation for Visualization & Retention, “Buncee means students are actively engaged in showcasing the learning. This is because Buncee makes it possible to see exactly what students are learning and the extent to which they understand the concepts! It is beyond thrilling to witness this magic happening in my classroom!”
Arturi mentions another teacher reports Buncee helping a ELL student communicate, “One of my absolute favorite success stories was shared with us by an English language teacher in Laos, Tan Huynh. He had a selectively-mute ELL student in his class and all year this student had not written or spoken a single word of English.”
Tan introduced Buncee to the mute student. It gave him the freedom to explore and create on his own. The student experienced breakthroughs and has written his first English sentence without the help of a translator. The teacher said, “His first Buncee canvas demonstrated that he understood the text we were reading about ancient Athens. He comprehended the task, and is a critical thinker with an artistic, creative mind.”
These are the types of stories that should make anyone a little emotional in a happy way.
Arturi talks about an increase in personalized learning with educational technology, “We recently went to a conference where this quote was shared: ‘Technology will never replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers is transformational.’” She agrees with that sentiment and continued with, “The opportunities Ed-tech provides classrooms are countless. Video chatting with a classroom across the world, allowing students to learn remotely through alternative or independent study, providing entry points and differentiation for special needs students. These are just some of the things education technology makes possible.”
My thanks to Arturi for spending some time sharing her passion to bring learning tools to teachers and students.