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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Using Text Reminders to Help Students Achieve

By Brett Kopf, CEO of Remind101

Studies show that parent and teacher involvement has a positive impact on a student’s performance. However, how much time does a teacher get time with a busy parent? And how do high school teachers, who see students for at most 50 minutes a day, individually connect with students?

I understand the importance of this connection first hand. I am dyslexic and have ADD and without the support of my teachers and parents, I would have had a much more difficult time in school. Mrs. Whitefield, a teacher who went above and beyond to connect with me, reassured me that I could be successful working at my own speed. She also taught me how to effectively manage my learning disabilities and encouraged me to go to college when others did not. However, after a few years at Michigan State University (MSU), I was utterly overwhelmed.

In school, class management and — ultimately — my success, were entirely up to me. That’s when I began thinking. How could I make life easier for teachers like Mrs. Whitfield so they could have a greater impact over more students?

My brother and I started the first version of Remind101 at MSU and failed miserably in the beginning. It wasn’t until we were accepted to the ImagineK12 incubator that I realized we needed to target K-12 teachers and solve this problem for them. That’s when Remind101 was born.

Remind101 is a free service that allows teachers to send text messages to students and parents. Some teachers remind students about tests and homework deadlines. Others remind parents about back to school nights, photo days and field trips. Security is key — no one sees anyone else’s phone number — and students and parents cannot respond to the texts.

Today, over 10 million teachers, students and parents use Remind101 and it is (thankfully) making a difference. We recently conducted a poll of our teachers, asking them how using Remind101 impacted their classroom:

  • For K-8 teachers, nearly 74 percent reported more engaged parents when using Remind101
  • Of the same K-8 teachers, 38 percent reported homework turn-in rates improve
  • And in high school, 63 percent of teachers said homework turn-in rates improved, and nearly 39 percent said classroom participation increased
  • Remind101 also has a positive impact on teachers. In fact, in grades K-12, teachers reported Remind101 increased their free time by 15 percent. In grades 9-12, free time boosted by 12 percent

Sometimes it’s almost overwhelming to see statistics like this because it confirms that we’re doing is what we set out to do. If I had to pick a favorite statistic, I would say I’m most proud of the fact that more than 63 percent of our high school teachers say Remind101 improved homework turn-in rate. This means a lot to me personally because nearly 10 years ago, I was one of those students who needed that extra encouragement.

About Remind101

Remind101 is a free communication service built for teachers to safely and efficiently update students and parents on important information relating to the classroom and school activities.

Designed with firsthand input from K-12 teachers, Remind101 has a “mobile-first” approach, working seamlessly on any mobile phone with text messaging capabilities.

Through a simple interface, teachers can quickly reach students and parents to communicate deadlines or update them on assignment changes without requiring them to manage yet another account or reveal their personal phone numbers.

Given the challenges and compliance requirements of using technology to speak with children, Remind101 provides teachers with direct and reliable contact to students and their families, with the assurance that they are safely communicating in an appropriate manner.

Sevamob Transforms Healthcare For Low-income Consumers In India

Guest post from Shelly Saxena of Sevamob

Why another primary healthcare company?

Kabirpur is a semi-rural area barely 20 mins from Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh – one of the most populous and under-served states in India. The local government run primary care center has unskilled medical staff. This staff often acts as commissioned agents for Lucknow based diagnostic centers and pharmacies. So for primary healthcare, residents end up traveling to Lucknow city and spend Rs 500 – Rs 1000 on transportation and doctor’s appointment, when their monthly income is only Rs 5000 – 8000.

We launched Sevamob in Dec 2011 to fundamentally transform the delivery of healthcare to low-income consumers in such semi-rural and urban areas. For a low monthly subscription, we provide primary healthcare and insurance to students in schools and employees in organizations in these areas. Our goal is to achieve health outcomes through long term relationship with the patient instead of being just another ‘fee for service’ provider.

What’s innovative about the model?

We deliver basic primary care on-premise by mobile clinics with the help of mobile technology. This includes preventive care, medicines for common ailments and prescriptions. For advanced primary care, prescriptions and appointments are provided by back-office specialists and a 24×7 call center. These work in tandem with a network of 3rd party service providers like pathologists and 24×7 hospitals. For emergencies, subscribers with appropriate plans can get up-to Rs 50,000 of hospitalization benefits in a given financial year.

Our secret sauce is our cloud based mobile technology, which includes a mobile app that works offline and is used by field teams and a web-based portal that is used by back-office. At signup, the app is used to capture patient demographics and electronic medical record. For prescription requests, trouble tickets are created in it with pictures from camera and text and description. The web based portal is used for management of subscribers, tickets and detailed reporting on operations.

What’s our social impact?

Our social impact includes improving health and welfare among children; higher productivity and incomes through improved “up-time” of workers and a safety net for emergencies. So far we have improved the lives of more than 3000 children and adults in UP.

What’s our road-map?

Over the next 12 months, we will expand coverage from 2 districts to 5 districts in UP. We have also replicated the model in Liberia (Africa) through a licensee and plan to roll-out in additional geographies through licensees.

How can you help?

We are trying to reach out to re-sellers and licensees, who would like to promote the model for revenue share or replicate it in various low income areas. We also have a service called SevaAngels, which enables someone to sponsor healthcare of kids in orphanages and elderly people in old age homes and track health updates of the sponsored person online. We would love to connect with any for-profit or non-profit organization, which is interested in sponsoring healthcare of these people, who have no capacity to pay for their care.

Improving The Indian Rural Dairy Industry With Solar Energy Access

Guest post from Rustam Sengupta, CEO of Boond.

In a rural village of Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, a project was launched to improve the rural dairy supply chain by Boond Engineering and Development ltd. As a poor, mostly rural district with high population density concentrated in agricultural areas with little infrastructure, Unnao confronts the same energy access problems faced by Uttar Pradesh as a whole. Currently, many of the villages in Unnao district have no electric infrastructure, while others have infrastructure but receive only 2-3 hours of power per day, or no power at all.

Energy access plays a critical role in each stage of the dairy supply chain, as milk must be kept cool in order to avoid spoilage. While there is abundant surplus milk which could be collected from many villages, farmers have historically lacked a cost-effective way to get the milk to market. The largest source of energy demand in the dairy supply chain is in large chilling centers where milk is refrigerated. India’s rural dairy supply chain faces a variety of obstacles arising from limited energy access, quality control problems and limited transportation infra structure. Boond identified solar power as the long term solution to overcome the obstacles in the rural dairy industry.

Boond enabled Purica foods to improve the scale of their operations and to establish milk collection centers in remote unelectrified areas by providing 225 W solar systems. Each system costs INR 35000 with the installation and servicing done by Boond. In rural milk collection centers, the solar unit powers four machines, an electronic weighing machine, an ultrasonic stirrer (mixing) machine, a small computer and a milk testing machine which tests for SNF content and improves the accuracy and speed of transactions while also ensuring consistently high milk quality.

“The solar solutions offered by Boond helped us to establish milk collection centers in more isolated unelictrified rural areas, which act as a catalyst for rural development, raising incomes and improving living standards for local farmers. We purchase milk directly from farmers, reducing transport and marketing costs. It is therefore possible for farmers to earn an annual average of INR 27 ($0.45 USD) per liter, roughly 8 rupees more than they would earn by selling to an intermediary. Most farmers sell around 3-5 liters of milk to our collection center, generating INR 90 to 150 income each day”, says Mr. Sachin Tandon, Director of Purica foods.

A Clarion Call for Nutritious Children’s Entertainment

Guest post from Dave Room and Aaron Ableman of Pacha’s Pajamas.

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In a Mount Sinai’s Kravis Children’s Hospital in upper Manhattan, a 6 year old cancer patient named Jonah joined the Pacha’s Pajamas musical to sing the chorus of our new song We Are All Connected. Hooked up to an IV, yet his voice sailed through the room like an angel from the heavens. Perhaps it was the message that called him to transcend his conditions. Perhaps it was the fact that we were performing as rapping mushrooms, singing gorillas and break dancing jaguars. Perhaps it was music being a clarion call that uplifts our hearts and minds.

Obviously, one doesn’t have to be in a hospital to enjoy the power of uplifting entertainment. At BALANCE, we’ve heard hundreds of testimonials from parents, teachers, and children themselves about the inspiration they experience through our productions. That’s why we wake up early and go to bed late! Every day we create award-winning products and experiences for children and families. We intend to anchor “transformational children’s entertainment” as an important genre for an industry that desperately needs more uplifting mythologies! It’s all about supporting the healthy development of today’s children by inspiring children to discover themselves, who they are in the world, and how they will create the world they want to live in!

But let’s zoom out for a minute to consider the modern child’s entertainment diet. For the first time ever, today’s children are growing up as digital natives with unprecedented access to digital media through an ever increasing variety of devices. Children now average seven hours of screen time per day. Most of what they are viewing is vapid, if not violent, misogynistic, sexualizing childhood or promoting drug use. Unfortunately, the last decade has seen dramatic shift in children’s values towards fame, popularity, image, and money. Yet today’s parents are finding it virtually impossible to limit or curate their child’s access to unhealthy media. And parents are increasingly frustrated with the lack of age-appropriate and culturally relevant children’s entertainment options that convey basic values which we they hold dear.

Through a constellation of compelling characters and award-winning stories with socially responsible themes, we are helping catalyze demand for pop culture that is both nutritious and delicious. Our nutritious children’s entertainment is designed to both delight and instruct, enabling children to learn while having fun, which is highly fulfilling and effective. We are raising consciousness, encouraging creativity, and teaching effective mental habits, all through stories, music and dance! And if we are successful, we will see a new generation who, just like Jonah in the hospital, are better able to successfully navigate the struggles and triumphs of their world.

For an opportunity for your child to be in a music video with kids around the world, visit http://connected.pachaspajamas.com.

To find out about how you can get a FREE download of We Are All Connected, save 30% using code NUTRITIOUS, and/or support the movement for nutritious children’s entertainment, please visit the Pacha’ Pajamas site.

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