Across Boundaries: From Digitizing Past Practice to Personalized Learning

January 21- 22, 2016 | Harvard Business School Boston, MA

KEYNOTE  – Thursday, January 21

9:00 am – 10:00 am
Victor Hu, Global Head of Education Technology and Services Investment Banking, Goldman Sachs
VH GS headshotVictor Hu is Global Head of Education Technology & Services Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs. Victor co-founded the education practice at Goldman, and today leads a team that advises, finances and invests in the leading education companies around the world. He joined Goldman Sachs in 2006 in New York, and moved to San Francisco in 2007.  He has held a variety of leadership positions including serving as the Business Unit Manager for Goldman Sachs Investment Banking in the West Region.  Previously, he worked as an international M&A and securities attorney for Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and an investment professional for Zephyr Management, an emerging markets private equity firm. Victor earned a BA from Amherst College, a JD from Harvard Law School and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two daughters.
Business Trends in Edtech
Education is a $1.3 trillion dollar sector in the U.S., and at least three times that worldwide, yet historically has absorbed a very small percentage of global investment capital, and has also been one of the industries most resistant to change. However, no one would deny that today the industry is undergoing a tremendous transformation, and capital is forming around new trends at an unprecedented rate. Are we at a peak, or are we seeing a new normal? Which areas of investment are particularly attractive today, and how are incumbents responding to disruption in their industries? How have successful companies contributed to better learning outcomes while adding value for their shareholders? And how should entrepreneurs, educators and investors navigate a new environment moving towards digitalization and personalized learning?

KEYNOTE  – Thursday, January 21

1:15 pm – 2:15 pm
Facilitator: John Kim, Senior Lecturer in General Management, Harvard Business School; Panelists: Larry Berger, Chief Executive Officer, Amplify & Rob Waldron, Chief Executive Officer, Curriculum Associates

Facilitator: John Kim, Senior Lecturer in General Management, Harvard Business School John Jong-Hyun KimJohn J-H Kim is a Senior Lecturer in the General Management unit of the Harvard Business School. Mr. Kim created and teaches the second-year courseEntrepreneurship and Technology Innovations in Education, which explores ways in which entrepreneurs are pursuing the use of technology to transform education and achieve higher performance. He also co-teaches the Social Innovation Lab, a project-based course providing student teams an opportunity to build a social enterprise with the discipline of business tools and entrepreneurial techniques.  Previously, he taught Entrepreneurship and Education Reform.


Panelist: Larry Berger, Chief Executive Officer, Amplify

Larry_Berger_photo (3) (1) (3)Larry Berger is the CEO of Amplify. The company has several divisions. The largest supports teachers in helping all students learn to read – and love reading – in elementary school; a newer division develops rigorous, engaging print-and-digital curriculum for middle school. Amplify English Language Arts is the first fully one-to-one, networked digital curriculum to be approved in the California textbook adoption. Larry was the co-founder of Wireless Generation, an education company that pioneered the adaptation of emerging technologies to improve Pre-K–12 teaching and learning. Wireless Generation was acquired by Newscorp in 2011 and became Amplify. Berger was a Rhodes Scholar, and a White House Fellow working on educational technology at NASA, and a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow. He is Vice Chair of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and member of the Board of Overseers for the Annenberg Institute on School Reform at Brown University. He serves on the Board of Peer Health Exchange, The Academy of American Poets, and Lapham’s Quarterly.

Panelist: Rob Waldron, Chief Executive Officer, Curriculum Associates

Rob Waldron_Curriculum Associates_from LinkedInRob Waldron joined Curriculum Associates in 2008, bringing leadership experience from both for-profit and nonprofit education worlds. He runs the company with a long-term focus, upholding the founding mission to improve classrooms everywhere. Under his leadership, revenues have quintupled, making Curriculum Associates the nation’s fastest-growing K–12 education publishing company. Curriculum Associates now employs more than 700 staff and has earned “Top Place to Work” status from both the Boston Business Journal and The Boston Globe.

Prior to joining, Rob served as CEO of Jumpstart, a national nonprofit preparing preschoolers from low-income backgrounds for success, and as CEO of the K12 tutoring division of Kaplan Education. Rob also served as an operating executive at private equity firm Berkshire Partners.

 Winner of the EdTech Digest CEO of the Year and named a 2016 EY Entrepreneur of the Year in New England, Rob’s mission-driven passion has earned him recognition as a Fast Company Top 25 Social Entrepreneur and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. An Aspen Institute/Pahara Fellow, Rob served as a Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School and is on the board of Van Pool, a transportation provider for students with special needs. Rob received his B.A. from Northwestern and M.B.A. from Harvard.

Navigating Fast Growth: Big Changes in Edtech
Entrepreneurs are shaking up education. Two of the most prominent edtech entrepreneurs will candidly discuss what it takes to build a successful company that delivers meaningful educational results.  Rob Waldron is CEO of Curriculum Associates, which has grown dramatically over the past three years.  Larry Berger is CEO of Amplify, which recently completed a management buyout and received statewide adoption in California for a new, all-digital English Language Arts curriculum. What does the future hold? Hear Rob and Larry’s advice for entrepreneurs, educators, and investors trying to make sense of the edtech market. John Kim, HBS professor of educational entrepreneurship, will be the interviewer. Interviewer: John J-H Kim, Senior Lecturer in General Management, Harvard Business School Panelists: Larry Berger, Chief Executive Officer, Amplify Rob Waldron, Chief Executive Officer, Curriculum Associates  

KEYNOTE  – Thursday, January 21

4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Stacey Childress, CEO, New Schools Venture Fund
Stacey ChildressStacey Childress is the CEO of the New Schools Venture Fund, a nonprofit committed to transforming public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs so that all children — especially those in underserved communities — have the opportunity to succeed. In order to achieve this mission, NewSchools supports entrepreneurs developing innovative schools, tools, and diverse leaders. Prior to joining NewSchools, Childress led the K-12 Next Generation Learning team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, investing in schools and technologies that support personalized learning for students in the United States. She also spent several years on the faculty of Harvard Business School where she wrote and taught about education entrepreneurship in the United States. During her time at Harvard she wrote three books, forty cases, and several articles about education entrepreneurship. She also won teaching awards from her students and the HBS dean for her elective course on education entrepreneurship, which was taken by more than 800 students between 2004 and 2010.  Before working in academia, Childress was a co-founder of an enterprise software company and spent ten years in a Fortune 500 company in sales and general management. Early in her career, Stacey  taught in a Texas public high school. She is a graduate of Baylor University and Harvard Business School. In 2012, she was named one of Forbes Magazine’s Impact 15, a group of innovators revolutionizing education in the United States and around the world.
K-12 Education: 2016 and Beyond
K-12 education has seen a surge of innovative “schools and tools” emerge in the past 5 years. According to Project Tomorrow, US students believe tech helps learn at their own pace as well as be more creative. A majority of district leaders believe it enhances student outcomes, and and the Harris Poll found that more than 95% of  teachers believe that tech increases student engagement and student outcomes.  So what are the drivers and barriers for  market development? Stacey will share her view on global trends in the adoption of digital learning as she looks at K-12 education: 2016 and beyond.

KEYNOTE  – Friday, January 22

9:15 am – 10:00 am
Todd Rose, Director of the Mind, Brain, and Education Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education & Founder of the Center for Individual Opportunity (CIO)
ToddRoseTodd Rose is the founder of the Center for Individual Opportunity (CIO), and the Director of the Mind, Brain, and Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also teaches Educational Neuroscience. His work is focused on advancing a deeper scientific understanding of individuals, and applying this knowledge in education to address longstanding challenges of equity, opportunity, and effectiveness. Todd has published numerous scientific articles and is the author of two books: Square Peg and The End of Average (January, 2016). He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Individuality Matters: How We Succeed in a World that Values Sameness
How would you know if you were creating tools for personalization in society that is rooted in creating for the average? This is an especially important question when modern science has proven that people behave and learn in distinctive ways. Could you choose not accept a system based on averages?  Choose not to accept standardized curricular materials? Choose not to accept simplistic one-dimensional assessments or fixed amounts of time for learning or one pathway to academic success? By understanding the three “principles of individuality” derived from the science of the individual — the principle of jaggedness, the principle of context, and the principle of pathways — we can avoid setting up ourselves and those we are tasked with helping succeed (our children, students, employees) for repeated failure and instead find the right path for success.

KEYNOTE  – Friday, January 22

3:15 pm – 4:00 pm
Interviewer: Scott Kirsner, Innovation Economy columist, Boston Globe & Paul LeBlanc, President, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

Interviewer: Scott Kirsner, Innovation Economy columnist, Boston Globe

moderating-smallScott Kirsner is a journalist who writes about innovation and entrepreneurship. His “Innovation Economy” column appears Sundays in the Boston Globe, and he is also editor of the site Innovation Leader (, which focuses on R&D, product development, corporate venturing, and new initiatives within large companies. Scott has been a regular contributor to Fast Company, BusinessWeek, Variety, and Wired. His books include Fans, Friends, and Followers andInventing the Movies, a technological history of Hollywood. He can be reached at and his Twitter handle is @ScottKirsner.


Interviewee: Paul J. LeBlanc, President, Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

Paul LeBlanc photoDr. Paul J. LeBlanc is President of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).  Under the ten years of Paul’s direction, SNHU has more than quadrupled in size and is the second largest non-profit provider of online higher education in the country, and the first to have a full competency-based degree program untethered to the credit hour or classes  approved by a regional accreditor and the US Department of Education.  In 2012 the university was #12 on FastCompany magazine’s ”World’s Fifty Most Innovative Companies” list and it was the only university included. Forbes Magazine listed Paul as one of its 15 ”Classroom Revolutionaries,” and he has been featured on Bloomberg TV’s ”Innovators” series. He most recently served as Senior Policy Advisor to Under Secretary Ted Mitchell at the US Department of Education, working on competency-based education, new accreditation pathways, and innovation.  He also serves on the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity and on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s  Committee on Quality in Undergraduate Education.

Higher Education 2.0: Readying for a Changing Landscape

Three developments are poised to change  higher education: competency-based education, “unbundling” of higher ed, and the move towards micro-credentials.  How can educators and entrepreneurs support changing how time, staff and technology are used,  and create Higher Education 2.0? Paul will be addressing  the questions critical to the evolution of higher ed:

  • How  might higher education engage with  employers to improve workforce readiness?
  • Who defines the competencies in competency-based education?
  • Do employers desire micro-credentials? How do they evaluate them?
  • How might  schools support students’ desire to explore career pathways?
  • What system inefficiencies could be nulled, improved, refined, or evaluated to help students as a whole?
  • How should regulatory frameworks change to meet the needs of today’s educational landscape?
  • What providers are providing alternative credentials that meet the demands of today’s marketplace?
  • What technologies are most promising for moving to higher ed 2.0?
  • How might  institutions get beyond the technology pilot phase,  to scale innovations?
  • What lessons do you offer to K-12, who provide the pipeline to higher ed?
  • What can an individual, institution, investor, educator or entrepreneur do to evolve along with the times?
  • Are we moving from “digitizing past practice to personalized learning?”