VINCI Education’s founder, Dr. Dan Dan Yang, explains how technology can help level the playing field for young learners
Technology entrepreneur Dr. Dan D. Yang already had achieved fame within the world of physics, having earned close to 20 U.S. patents—some of which became the standard for today’s fiber-optic network—before starting her latest venture: an ed-tech firm that aims to transform early education.
Inspired by her daughter, then a toddler, who was addicted to her iPad, Dan saw technology’s power to captivate young minds first-hand. What if, she thought, this power could be harnessed in a way that was more constructive, based on the latest brain research about how children learn, and paired with high-quality classroom teaching?
That’s the idea behind VINCI Education. The company’s school-based solution, ClassVINCI, includes Android-based tablets designed specifically for young children, as well as animated learning games grounded in cognitive science; non-digital learning objects such as toys and books; a learning management system to track students’ progress and mastery of skills; and professional development for educators.
Using a blend of traditional and technology-based approaches, VINCI is committed to revolutionizing how students learn in early education programs. In an interview with eSchool News, Dan explained her company’s vision.
eSN: What do you think it takes to raise a successful child?
Dan: You really need four ingredients. First, children need to be happy; no one can achieve if it’s a constant struggle. Second, children need to be active, both physically and in their mind—actively pursuing their passions, rather than sitting and watching TV. Third, children need confidence. The world is a scary place, and there is so much unknown. For children to meet the world and its challenges, they have to have confidence—and this has to be cultivated from the day they are born. Fourth, children need competency. They need to know how to communicate and do math.
eSN: How can technology help?
Dan: In the curriculum we’ve designed, technology comes into play to make repetitive tasks easier. Just memorizing math facts is kind of boring; it’s hard to remember something unless you have motivation. Technology helps make the learning fun.
But technology also saves time for teachers. It holds the learning structure together, helping teachers assess students’ knowledge and telling them what concepts children still need to master. It’s like giving teachers a GPS for learning. And technology helps children visualize abstract concepts as well. If you take the number 10, you can break it down in different ways—this becomes very visual and fun at the same time.