Studyo’s little story
Back in 2013, I was working with a school district up in the province of Quebec in re-implementing their “one device per student” program. As coordinator of educational technology for this district, my mandate included supporting teachers in their desire to help students build 21st century skills. I loved technology and was a strong believer in the ways it could enhance learning.
It felt natural to try and implement educational technology platforms, such as portals and similar tools to Google Classroom to facilitate work for teachers.
Yet, resistance was strong. The tools were appreciated by some teachers, yet, teachers resisted using them exclusively. One tool was very hard to get rid of: the paper planner.
This felt like a failure to me. With all my experience with technology in education, shouldn’t I be able to find a fully digital solution? Was technology failing me?
Or was I failing to see something important?
I asked myself: why are these teachers resisting? What is so important about paper planners that technology couldn’t replace them? I had to understand this or I would fail in my quest for a fully digital district. So I interviewed all our teachers, visiting schools and asking why they couldn’t replace paper planners with the tools I was proposing.
What followed was an eye-opening moment: digital tools forced teachers to enter everything for students, all the time. Teachers felt they were spoon-feeding their students, prevented them from building up their autonomy and responsibility. This meant too much extra work for teachers and no responsibility for students. Paper allowed less teacher work and more student autonomy. Until a tool was created which allowed both, they wouldn’t want to use it.
So that’s when I decided to find a tool that allowed both the practicality of posting assignments to students, yet preserve their autonomy in entering their own tasks and managing their workload.
Nothing existed. There were individual planners, yes, but nothing centrally connected to a school’s timetables and where teacher could post assignments and also enable students to enter their own tasks and manage all tasks in their workload. And these days, Students needed modern project-management tools, not just enter tasks.
So I out someone to help in building this solutions, and that’s when he met Pascal.
Pascal had been creating software for almost 20 years, and was the parent of two wonderful kids. He was definitely very interested in helping his own kids become more organized and responsible.
He had built solid technological tools for a variety of needs, and was looking for a cause to apply his knowledge and passion.
Helping students build essential skills for the future quickly became that cause and the two founders started defining what their vision was.
An idea was born
Over the course of one year, they worked tirelessly, building, testing and validating their ideas with schools.
The system had to allow student-entered tasks. But also allow teachers to post.
Parents should have access at all times to help their children.
Tasks should be actionable and displayed clearly in each class, using bright colours and icons to make everything as clear as possible.
Work should be marked as done and be represented by different types of icons to clarify all the work.
And finally, teachers who already adopted digital tools, such as Google Classroom, shouldn’t have to enter tasks twice. No one wants to waste time.
So in the spring of 2014, they launched Studyo which was immediately adopted by a group of private and public schools in Quebec.
And as the adoption of Studyo grew every year, the team increased in size and the number of schools grew.
Nowadays, more than 55 schools in the United States and Canada use Studyo to help students build their executive function skills every day and the Studyo planner has become an essential part of their toolkit.
The team at Studyo is totally focused on helping the world of education and it all starts with our sales team, led by Scott, who deeply cares about helping customers. Passionate about music, Scott adopted his daughter many years ago and understands the value of helping children grow into autonomous citizens.
The partnership team
His mission is to help Studyo take it’s place in the word of digital education, and the only way to do this right, is to be there for schools, give them support especially in these strange times and truly understand their needs. If a school is not ready for Studyo or doesn’t need it to solve a problem, Scott will do the right thing and graciously tell them the time is not right. And if the time is indeed right, he will go beyond the call of duty to make sure customers are happy!
Sapana, often the first contact a school has with Studyo, faced an interesting challenge when she joined the team. At a time where companies hire remote workforces to save costs, we did the reverse and hired Sapana when she moved from India to Canada. Sapana’s Indian heritage is nothing she shies-away from (nor should she!), her background in digital marketing and business management as well as her past tenure as assistant professor in Indore, gives her the unique skill set to understand customers and know what it takes to be great at her job.
Sapana recently gave birth to her first child and works to build a world where her daughter can make a difference.
Then there is Aishah, who collaborates with our schools all year long. If your school is using Studyo, then you know her and you know how much she understands education. That shouldn’t come as a surprise since Aishah is a teacher herself. She is a super-smart and independent thinker, always ready to tackle all aspects of technology and pedagogy. Aishah continues to keep her education roots alive by tutoring students every week, engaging with the same generation of students she strives to help every day.
Then, there is our development team.
Martin, is the team leader, and has been coaching his son through school, helping him leverage his unique challenges and transforming them into assets.
Martin is also very much involved in helping our schools provide the data required to build their timetables and to connect their LMS, so chances are, you will have a chat with him at some point.
Pierre-Luc, who manages our back-end architecture, also manages two active young kids at home in discovering their own autonomy.
His extensive experience is only shadowed by his sense of humour. If you watch closely, you might just see him wearing a rubber horse’s head.
And at Studyo, we want a team which is closest as possible to our users and our two youngest programmers are just that.
Francis who joined the team back in 2015 with little programming knowledge, was supported in learning the skills as he finished school and quickly became an amazing mobile programmer. Now in charge of our most-used platform: Studyo, as well as Today for iOS, he continues to contribute in a major way.
Finally there is Jessica. Just out of school and who already handles the Today web app, implementing new tools month after month with amazing focus and efficiency.
Jess masters all types of keyboards, from her computer’s all the way to her piano and she’ll interpret anything from Typescript to Satie.