“One of the most exciting shifts I’ve seen in my career.” A conversation with Rumie’s founder
*This is the first part of a three part conversation series.Tariq, you left behind a successful career in finance to start Rumie in 2013. We’re now starting 2017. Looking back, what are your reflections on how things have progressed?
I couldn’t be more excited with where we’ve come in such a short time – and what we’re working on for 2017. There are roughly one billion children around the world who don’t receive a quality education, and who therefore miss the chance to maximize their inherent potential and to live better lives. The traditional model to address this involves large NGOs and charities aggressively fundraising to throw more money at the problem (“we need more dollars!”) which, of course, hasn’t consistently worked, largely because there are inadequate resources for a problem this big. Our goal is to instead use technology to build a new model that is cheaper, better and faster than ever before.
Everything we’re seeing so far, now in over 20 countries, suggests that our model is affordable, scalable, and drives significant impact – even in areas we didn’t expect, such as in a child’s mental health. Much of the success of our solution can be attributed to the trends we’re seeing. First, there is the explosion in free learning content online, with more and more resources appearing all the time; second, we have a growing community of passionate volunteers from around the world who help us find, vet, and organize all that content on the LearnCloud; and finally, there’s the plummeting cost of hardware and bandwidth – making it easier than ever deliver digital materials to youth in resource-constrained communities.
Our goal is to instead use technology to build a new model that is cheaper, better and faster than ever before.I first founded Rumie after a close friend showed me during his battle with cancer what really matters in life: making a difference. It’s been a humbling journey to see that goal come to fruition. Last year, after seeing our early progress, I wrote a vision piece for Rumie in where I projected that over the next five years we’ll witness the beginning of the greatest revolution in access to information since Gutenberg introduced the printing press in the 15th century, as those who didn’t have books leapfrog directly to a cheaper, better and faster method: bytes. I still believe that to be the case, and am excited about how rapidly we can scale this up to finally provide youth around the world a chance to truly maximize their potential.
What trends you see us leaving behind in 2016? In what ways is 2017 going to be an exciting year for edtech?
In affluent communities I think we’ll continue to see an exciting trend toward the personalization of learning, one that adapts to help students achieve mastery of a topic before moving on to the next chapter or concept. Edtech is generally enabling a shift from a one-size-fits-all model of learning to a learner-centric model that fits the learner’s needs and individual progress, and furthermore empowers teachers by allowing them to focus their limited time on helping students with persistent problem areas, motivation, and other areas that no software can or should replace.
In less affluent communities I think we’ll continue to see a lot of “leapfrogging” directly to low-cost educational technology. Through cheaper, better, and faster low-cost delivery of the best free learning tools online, students across the globe who have never received access before will finally have a fair chance to achieve their full potential. It is this transformation in less affluent communities that is our primary focus at Rumie – and represents one of the most exciting shifts I’ve seen in my career. Humanity’s greatest natural resource is brainpower, the ingenuity of us as a species to creatively overcome the problems we face. If through technology we can finally reach the one billion whose wings have been clipped and whose true potential remains untapped, the world will be a much better place.
Written By: Merone Tadesse Business Development Associate at Rumie