Indian American Innovators Prominent in First ‘Index of Makers and Shakers’ in Education Technology
- India-West Staff Reporter
In association with the World Innovation Summit for Education, EdTechXGlobal, the organizers of education technology-focused conferences EdTechXEurope and EdTechXAsia, recently launched the Makers and Shakers of Education Technology Index, with several Indian Americans included in the list.
The index is believed to be the first comprehensive global listing of ground-breaking innovators in the EdTech field, the organization announced in a statement last month.
The international index celebrates 50 of the most innovative EdTech thought leaders, organized by four geographical regions — Europe, Americas, MENA and Asia. It honors these luminaries who, through digital and physical technologies, have introduced innovative new ways of learning to the market through play, construction or interactive design.
The “Makers” were defined as rising stars of education technology, innovating and pushing boundaries for future success. “Shakers” are considered established leaders in their region, inspiring worldwide EdTech change.
“The Makers & Shakers of Education Technology is a global index that elevates education innovators and thought leaders as 21st Century social rock stars. The index rewards talent, creativity, impact and influence in education,” said EdTechXGlobal co-founder Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet in a statement.
Among those on the list were at least seven Indian and South Asian origin innovators, including Reshma Saujani, Anant Agarwal, Nivi Sharma, Satya Nitta, Vamsi Krishna, Sugata Mitra and Sashwati Banerjee.
Agarwal is the CEO of edX, an online learning destination founded by Harvard and MIT. He taught the first edX course on circuits and electronics from MIT, which drew 155,000 students from 162 countries, according to his Makers and Shakers bio.
Additionally, Agarwal has served as the director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT.
Outside of academia, the IIT Madras and Stanford graduate has co-founded several companies including Tilera Corporation and Virtual Machine Works.
Nivi Sharma is the president of BRCK Education and a co-founder of eLimu. She is a thought leader in education technology for emerging markets, her bio page said.
As a social entrepreneur, volunteer and technophile, Sharma has dedicated her career to education and is passionate about digital access and community initiatives that foster learning through fun, it added. A graduate of Ithaca College, Sharma is also a 2014 East Africa Acumen fellow.
Krishna is the co-founder of Vedantu, an ed-tech startup that offers personalized live online tutoring, along with Saurabh Saxena, Pulkit Jain and Anand Prakash.
The group previously founded Lakshya in 2006, a test prep company in Punjab, which eventually was acquired by MTEducare.
The second venture of the group, Vedantu, was established with the vision of creating a world of learning that is personalized and democratized, according to Krishna’s bio page.
A graduate of IIT Bombay, Krishna has been a teacher for more than six years. At Vedantu, he primarily looks after strategy and product roadmap and oversees critical functions like branding and marketing, and has helped raise $5 million in funding within six months of its launch.
Saujani is the founder and chief executive of Girls Who Code and the former deputy public advocate of New York City.
As executive director of the Fund for Public Advocacy, Saujani brought together public and private sectors to encourage entrepreneurship and civic engagement across New York City, her bio page said.
Today, she has galvanized industry leaders to close the gender gap in STEM education and empower girls to pursue careers in technology and engineering, it added.
She ran for Congress in 2010, in which she campaigned for smarter policies to create jobs and spark innovation. Saujani is an advocate for a new model of female leadership focused on risk taking, competition and mentorship, the profile said.
Mitra is a professor of educational technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University in the U.K.
Mitra’s work at NIIT created the first curricula and pedagogy for that organization, followed by years of research on learning styles, learning devices, several of them now patented, multimedia and new methods of learning, according to his bio page.
Since 1999, he has demonstrated that groups of children, irrespective of who or where they are, can learn to use computers and the Internet on their own using public computers in open spaces such as roads and playgrounds. His work inspired the Oscar winning movie of 2009 “Slumdog Millionaire,” it added.
He is the recipient of various awards in India, the United States, the U.K. and many other countries throughout the world.
Banerjee leads Sesame Workshop’s educational mission in India to create innovative and engaging content that maximizes the educational power of all media to help children reach their highest potential, her bio page said.
As founding managing director of Sesame Workshop India, Banerjee spearheads Galli Galli Sim Sim, a multiplatform initiative that combines the power of media with educational outreach to prepare children for school and life, it added.
With her at the helm, the organization has developed and implemented highly innovative programs that have a demonstrated impact on children’s educational and developmental outcomes.
Banerjee was instrumental in designing programs that use innovative delivery platforms that addresses the needs of more than 18 million children in India each year.
With rising demand, Banerjee launched Sesame Street Preschools in India.
Additionally, Banerjee serves on the board of Point of View, an organization promoting the points of view of women using media, arts and cultures and New Delhi-based feminist human rights organization CREA.
Nitta has deep experience in inventing, building world class teams and developing groundbreaking technologies in both the hardware and software areas of computing with hundreds of millions of dollars of impact to IBM, his bio page said.
He is currently the worldwide leader and program director of the Cognitive Sciences and Education Technology research department at IBM Research which he envisioned, created and built from the ground up.
Nitta’s global team invents and develops technologies at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and cognitive computing and employs multiple techniques in fields ranging from machine learning, natural language processing, virtual and augmented reality, to experimental and computational neuroscience, it added.
A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Nitta has earned a number of IEEE engineering awards.