2gnoMe (To Know Me): Learning Experience Platform for Teachers
As CEO and founder of 2gnoMe, Ilya Zeldin talked with me about his immigration from Russia when he was 15 years old. He said it was the perfect age to start a new life. “It’s early enough to get acclimated and get a chance to dream, and at the same time, 15 is old enough to appreciate the importance of different perspectives. I try to carry this heritage into my everyday life.”
Perhaps that is why Ilya Zeldin’s favorite moments are human connection and empowerment. “That was the reason I developed the 2gnoMe concept. I like to connect humanity with the power of technology and make teachers feel more confident about themselves and better connected to their students.”
“I am thrilled to see customers expand the product value beyond its originally intended purpose. Early on, a district brought 2gnoMe to its teachers to facilitate ed-tech skills assessment. Within a few months, this customer wanted to apply 2gnoMe across all of its learning resources, Professional Development providers, and LMS platforms,” explains Zeldin. “It was a technical challenge made possible because it fits into a broader solution purpose and design. One customer expanded the definition of 2gnoMe into a ‘learning experience platform,’ and today this expanded value has helped other districts support their teachers in a broader, humanistic, and impactful way.”
2gnoMe is a platform that supports educators with the aims to bridge the skills gap when it comes to applying technology to the craft of teaching and learning. “Today’s students are tech-natives while few in-service educators have had formal training on teaching with technology, or have personal experience implementing technology in the classroom,” explains Zeldin, “The skills gap between teachers and students is growing. While we ask teachers to personalize learning for their students in the classroom, teachers rarely get targeted professional learning that addresses each teacher’s own learning needs.”
By addressing their learning needs, 2gnoMe offers a unique teacher-centric approach. The program enhances self-awareness about critical skills and behaviors of teachers. The teachers take an assessment from the platform, and the results help districts scale personalized learning for every teacher. “Quality of teaching is by far the most important measured aspect of student achievement,” explains Zeldin.
Zeldin referred to the long-term study from The National Bureau of Economic Research. Learning from an above average teacher (called an high Value Added Teacher in the study), compared to a mediocre teacher, can improve students’ quality of life and lifetime earnings by $250,000. “It is relatively easy for districts to include devices, digital tableaus, and software for their classrooms,” clarifies Zeldin. “However, teachers are the real gatekeepers of student success, not the technology. Therefore, the Districts become critical to the end users that need to have tools to be a proper gatekeeper.”
Zeldin contends many educational leaders stay with traditional methods for teacher training. “2gnoMe started with a solution around ed-tech skills that are based on the ISTE Standards for Educators. While many educational leaders are considering how to support ed-tech standards for their teachers, they have a lot to consider in terms of the design, implementation, and evaluation of learning effectiveness,” explains Zeldin. “Further, and we see this firsthand, while smart leaders are eager to seek innovative methods to move professional learning away from punitive evaluations toward collaborative development, budgets are growing tighter each year, causing many to remain stuck in the ‘old ways of doing things.’”
To overcome this challenge, 2gnoMe came up with a pilot offer whereby districts get a complete and turnkey platform, including a comprehensive needs assessment and access to certified professional learning from 2gnoMe partners, for up to 200 participants. Participants include ed-tech instructors, coaches, district admins, and teachers. The objective is to make the transition toward teacher-centric learning easy, practical, and affordable. A low one-time cost gives districts a full year to bring key participants to the same standard of understanding ed-tech pedagogy and success, based on the best practices, their unique vision, and district requirements.
Before 2gnoMe, Zeldin worked for Dell managing the global service provider. Before Dell, he launched several start-ups based on technology. He is partial to working in educational technology because he sees how 2gnoMe technology enhances relationships between teachers and students. “As an industry, education is still years behind other sectors of the economy when it comes to making technology seamless. It makes both symbolic and economic sense to build a brand in education because this industry is ripe for transformation beyond just putting devices and software in the classroom.”
Zeldin says focusing on the facilitators of the education industry is the next frontier, “I think that the market is finally ready to recognize that teachers are the natural bottleneck between millions poured into schools in ed-tech and the impact on student outcomes we expect from this investment.”
The mission of 2gnoMe is to enhance individual and organizational awareness about critical skills and behaviors in a way that is meaningful and impactful for adults. “Our target audience is adults because adult learning lacks respect for its participant, is highly inefficient and awfully wasteful,” says Zeldin.
He explained that following these principles, 2gnoMe aims to impact how teachers upgrade their skills to narrow the growing gap between teachers and students when it comes to technology. “I have always felt that using technology like we all do for email, shopping, and movies is vastly different than teaching with technology or, for that matter, learning with technology. Teachers now find themselves at a particular disadvantage when it comes to professional learning because the system is not focused on their needs; as adults, teachers are often expected to just wing it.”
In designing this platform for teachers, Zeldin acknowledges there is good learning and Professional Development content out there already – the world does not need another content provider. His company focuses on skill awareness for teachers and other learners. “My purpose with 2gnoMe is to make better sense of their content, to take a step back, and help clarify who needs what kind of learning in the first place, and only then apply technology to deliver the right learning to the right person for maximum impact.”