Businesswire | April 21, 2023
Labster the world's leading edtech platform for virtual labs and interactive science courseware, is rolling out a major free user experience (UX) upgrade that will improve the Labster platform for millions of students in high school and higher education institutions worldwide. The upgrade will be pushed automatically to users when they log into Labster and will impact more than 80% of Labster simulations across all devices and LMS systems, including the Labster app for iOS and Chromebook.
With Labster, students explore interactive simulations in state-of-the-art laboratories from their digital devices. But the advanced scientific concepts and lab techniques that Labster simulations bring to life can sometimes be challenging for students who are not as well prepared. Based on extensive feedback from both users and instructors, Labster has developed a new intelligent “hint and guidance” system that will nudge students in the right direction toward successful completion of their assignments when needed. Among other features, this includes helpful new indicators and suggestions for students who appear to be stuck or struggling.
Leveraging gamification techniques has been proven to boost student enthusiasm, engagement and learning outcomes. Labster offers 300-plus titles in its catalog of STEM curriculum-aligned virtual lab simulations in fields such as biology, biochemistry, genetics, biotechnology, chemistry, and physics. Labster simulations are especially useful for pre- and post-lab assignments, so science department leads can fully optimize the time students spend on-site in high-demand physical laboratories.
“Labster plays an important role in helping students complete challenging STEM courses, so it’s critical that we leverage the power of our platform to support their learning and progress through each simulation,” said Michael Bodekaer Jensen, co-founder and CEO of Labster. “Our ultimate goal is for Labster to increase STEM student retention by encouraging students on their path to becoming the next generation of scientists to change the world. Our thanks go out to the generous educators and students who helped us build this major upgrade by providing valuable feedback and ongoing testing for continuous improvement.”
Better STEM access for all
According to the National Science Board, academic institutions need to dramatically increase the proportion of students in STEM to preserve U.S. economic and innovation leadership. But women and minority students are already underrepresented in STEM education, and inherent design flaws in introductory STEM-subject courses can actually act as a barrier for minority students rather than as a springboard for success, according to a 2022 Pennsylvania State University research study led by mathematics professor Nathanial "Nate" Brown, Ph.D.
“We know that different students have different levels of comfort with online courseware,” said Jolita Kiznyte, Labster’s lead product manager for content. “That’s why we’re continuously working to improve the UX design of Labster’s gamified, interactive science simulations. It’s really important that we accommodate a diversity of user backgrounds and technical skills. These latest updates provide key hints and signals that can offer a helping hand to students where they need it while navigating the learning experience in our simulations.”
Labster has been innovating in science education for more than a decade, providing educators with the ability to digitally explore and enhance their science offerings and supplement their in-classroom activities. In 2022, Labster released five new course packages, including Basic Lab Skills, focused specifically on practical lab skills and simulations. Additionally, more than 150 of the 300-plus Labster simulations are now available in Spanish, with over 100 also in French, German, and Italian. Labster simulations can be played on a variety of the most commonly used desktop, laptop, and tablet computers available to the broadest range of students.
Getting to know (and love) Labster
Labster is dedicated to developing fully interactive virtual training simulations that are designed to enhance traditional learning outcomes by stimulating students’ natural curiosity and reinforcing the connection between science and the real world. The simulations can be used in a variety of different ways, from a full lab replacement to a supplemental learning activity. Over 5 million students in high schools and universities in 100 countries have used Labster to perform realistic experiments, learn key science concepts, and practice their skills in a risk-free learning environment. Labster’s team members are passionate about improving science learning, resulting in collaborations with over 3,000 leading educational institutions.
Businesswire | April 27, 2023
Summer, the certified B Corp committed to addressing the national student debt crisis, announced that it has raised $6M in new capital, with $18M raised in funding to date. General Catalyst, QED Investors, Flourish Ventures, Greycroft, Story Ventures, Gaingels, Calm VC, Partnership Fund for NYC, Fenway Summer, BDMI, and Avidbank participated in the financing.
The company also announced it has surpassed $1 billion in total projected savings for borrowers, and it has hired Leigh Gross as Chief Revenue Officer to lead partnerships with recordkeepers and other financial institutions interested in Summer Secure, the company’s automated solution for SECURE 2.0 retirement matching.
Student loan debt in the United States now stands at $1.75 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve, exceeding credit card and auto debt. It is often the first meaningful debt that young people incur, and can lead to a domino effect on their financial life–making it harder to save for retirement or buy a home years after graduating. Summer works with leading financial institutions, employers, and unions to provide a high impact, comprehensive digital solution that helps individuals plan for college costs, reduce the burden of student loan debt, and optimize retirement savings. To date, the company has delivered more than $1 billion in total projected savings for borrowers across the United States, offering assistance on every leg of the personal finance journey.
“We’re thrilled to announce this new funding, especially at a time when the need for better college planning and student loan solutions has never been more acute,” said CEO and co-founder Will Sealy. “As student loan forgiveness hangs in the balance and payments are set to resume for the first time in years, we’re excited to share our solution with more people to enable them to unlock financial freedom.”
Summer’s funding comes at an exciting time for the business as it continues to expand partnerships with retirement recordkeepers and payroll providers on the heels of its partnership with Fidelity Investments in 2022. Due to the recent passage of the SECURE 2.0 Act, many institutions are turning to Summer to support their employer clients with student loan retirement matching, leveraging Summer’s digital API suite and its expertise with operationalizing complex student loan policies into high-adoption solutions.
In a recent survey, 91% of employees with student debt said they would save more money for retirement if their employer offered a student loan repayment program. By ensuring that an employee’s student loan payments count toward the retirement match provided by their employer, Summer’s workplace solution can relieve student loan borrowers from having to make an impossible decision between paying down their debt or saving for retirement.
Summer was founded in 2017 by Sealy, a former Policy Analyst and Assistant to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and a veteran of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Chief Product Officer Paul Joo, with previous experience at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Boston Consulting Group, and Chief Product Officer Vincent Tran, who previously led product at Pave and Orchard and was an investor at the Partnership Fund for NYC.
Summer’s recent partnership milestones include a student loan benefit launched with Intuit’s personal finance subsidiary, Credit Karma, and an expanded partnership with the American Federation of Teachers to support their 1.7 million teachers, government employees, and healthcare workers. Summer will use the new funding to expand the platform to help even more borrowers with a holistic approach to financial well-being.
Summer partners with financial institutions and employers to empower their populations to reduce education costs and student debt through proven technologies, policy expertise and human support. Founded in 2017 by industry experts, Summer’s mission is to alleviate student loan debt for 46 million borrowers by providing leading solutions for college cost planning, automated enrollment for loan assistance plans, tuition assistance, student loan contributions and retirement matching, and emergency savings. Summer is a certified B Corporation.
Businesswire | April 17, 2023
HiLink, the education software provider transforming virtual learning, today unveiled AI Lesson Planner, its new edtech product purpose-built to revolutionize the way remote educators design and deliver lessons to students across the world.
As the majority of instructors today still require multiple tools to effectively manage their lesson planning (i.e., through designated planning software, digital content creation tools, and Learning Management Systems), HiLink's AI Lesson Planner unites all of these capabilities into one intuitive platform. Powered by the rich and instantaneous intelligence of ChatGPT, instructors can input topics, audiences, and keywords into the interface, and with a single click, curate an unlimited number of comprehensive lesson plans and high-quality virtual learning experiences that directly cater to and advance students forward.
HiLink’s AI Lesson planner goes beyond static content and instead incorporates engaging activities proven to enrich the learning experience - including video, dynamic material, and other captivating multimedia. Through its integration into HiLink’s premier digital learning hub, Virtual Classroom, teachers now have a robust set of features at their fingertips built to enable student collaboration and engagement, including whiteboards, media players, and more. In turn, this drives:
• Efficient workflows: Embedding classroom functionality directly within the lesson plan creates more engaging lessons and eliminates friction during the ideation, planning, and teaching stages
• Impactful personalization: Every student is unique, and HiLink’s AI Lesson Planner crafts personalized lesson plans to address individual needs, ensuring every student receives the support and attention required for their academic success
• Productive learning environments: For educators, AI reduces time and costs. The ability to reference lesson plans during class helps instructors stay on track without disruption. In addition, the tool collects all student data to easily measure individual and collective performance metrics. For students, this establishes clearer learning objectives for each session, engaging content, and ultimately improves learning outcomes
"Our goal is to provide innovative solutions that unlock the highest potential for educators while creating delightful learning experiences for students,” said Kelvin Wu, founder & CEO of HiLink. “We believe that the future of AI in the education industry is not only inevitable, but when used effectively will successfully supercharge the way instructors - including traditional teachers and tutors alike - are able to inform and inspire young minds in a virtual setting. We’re committed to transforming education by helping people teach and learn better online, and this groundbreaking AI Lesson Planner is just the beginning of what we have planned for our customers and the industry regarding artificial intelligence moving forward.”
HiLink is building a better way to teach and learn online through the power of technology. Its all-in-one video conferencing, collaboration software, and AI-enabled solutions empower educators to create the most engaging and impactful learning experiences for students across the globe.