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Shawn Rubin

Who he is: Founder/CEO of Metryx, an education technology company Director of Technology Integration and Blended Learning at the Highlander Institute, a nonprofit education community that …

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Who he is:

  • Founder/CEO of Metryx, an education technology company
  • Director of Technology Integration and Blended Learning at the Highlander Institute, a nonprofit education community that operates the Highlander Charger School in Providence
  • Education consultant who helped Providence Public Schools establish Pleasant View Elementary as a model “blended learning” program

What that all means:
Rubin is at the forefront of incorporating technology into schools (“blended learning”), both nationally and within Providence.

What Metryx does:

  • Develop software for teachers to collect and analyze data about what’s happening in their classrooms: what students are learning, how they’re learning it and how well they’re learning it.
  • Help teachers use that data to develop individual learning plans for students – i.e. challenging the advanced students and providing extra help for those who need it – without disrupting the classroom experience or singling out any students. 

“Metryx can provide the accountability that teachers, schools and admins need to ensure that students are not falling through the cracks while the real-time nature of the tool and the fact that teachers can measure anything will allow them to teach what’s important. They can do projects and measure student growth on abstract skills like collaboration, communication, and entrepreneurialism.”

What he’s done at Highlander and Pleasant View:

  • Implement “blending learning” – which is the incorporation of technology into teaching and learning.
  • At Highlander he continues to test new models of blended learning and education technology, as well as train teachers and develop best practices.
  • At Pleasant View, he helped apply and adapt some of the innovations established at charter schools to a public school district.

Why this is important:
“The way we educate students must change as our society changes. Computers, mobile devices, social networking, robotics, design and data are at the forefront of all the great advances in our society, yet our schools look the same as they did 30-40 years ago.”

Rubin’s job is to create better connections between those great advances and our classrooms. And he began as a classroom teacher, so he understands the realities of making such high-minded rhetoric work at the ground level.

What’s on the horizon for 2014:

  • Building the Titan Teacher Network through Highlander: recruiting and training up to 100 teachers across Southern New England who are motivated to test new ideas in blended learning, offer feedback and establish best practices.
  • The January rollout of school and district versions of Metryx’s platform to assess student and teacher progress.

Rubin’s vision of tomorrow’s classroom:
“…To move from teacher-centered classrooms, where one adult stands before a group of students and delivers information at one skill or content level, to a dynamic student-centered environment, in which each student has an individual learning plan that is managed through technology, with the teacher moving about the room guiding and instructing as needed.”

Fast facts:
Rubin comes from a long line of educators: his grandmother was a kindergarten teacher; his father was an elementary school teacher and principal; his mother was a high school science teacher who later became head of science curriculum for her district. As a child Rubin swore that he would never become a teacher.

On the ways charter and public schools can co-exist:
“Charter Schools have the ability to do things that larger districts just cannot do… The trouble comes when the charters say, ‘Look what we’re doing! If you were more like us you’d be better!’ That’s a false assumption… Charters that have had success in targeted areas can then work with that public district to figure out ways to test the small win against the larger challenges that the district faces.”

Big journey:
Rubin and his wife took a two-year sabbatical from their jobs to travel around the world for 18 months. They taught in Ghana, Lesotho, China, Laos and India, and visited 20 other countries.

Engaging the business community in transforming education:
“Businesses in RI are calling for more computer science graduates with more skills in coding, design, entrepreneurship, making, media, social media, blogging, podcasting and marketing. K-12 is not talking about how to prepare RI students for these skills… The business community needs to get more involved in school curriculum design. I would love to see an ‘Adopt a Teacher’ program in which a GTech engineer adopts a Providence teacher and helps them run a [technology design] activity with their fourth grade classroom. I’d love to see the Hasbro FunLab run professional development on how teachers can tell when students are engaged in an activity or not engaged in an activity. There are a ton of skills that RI students need to be successful that are not being taught in schools. We must bring more content expertise and 21st century skill acumen into more classrooms.”

Follow Shawn on Twitter @ShawnCRubin