1-on-1 with the Education Rebels: part II

Daniel Haven of ProctorExam and Bomberbot’s Cristian Bello

The Amsterdam Economic Board focuses on five interrelated urban challenges. Jobs of the Future is one of these challenges, with the ambition to make the Amsterdam area the most appealing labour market of Europe. At Professional Rebel they believe that education can change and empower people and organizations, but only if you’re willing to think outside of the box. In collaboration with the Amsterdam Economic Board Professional Rebel talked to rebels in education about their thoughts on the future in this three-piece series.

Bomberbot and ProctorExam are two startups leading the way in using technology to strengthen education. We spoke to Cristian Bello of Bomberbot and ProctorExam’s Daniel Haven to find out why education and technology go hand in hand.

Daniel Haven, 28, CEO and Founder, ProctorExam

Daniel Haven, 28, CEO and Founder, ProctorExam

What does ProctorExam do?

“We fill in the missing link in online education by digitalizing the exam environment. In doing so we make the final part of education accessible to students.”

Why was ProctorExam created?

The idea for ProctorExam came from Daniel’s own experiences: “I was following an online course, but when it came to the exam I was asked to travel and go to a testing location. It didn’t make sense to me.’

“I did some research and I saw that students, mostly from Asia, were flying to Europe to do their exam while they were studying online. We claim as a society to have made education flexible and accessible thanks to the internet, but while we globalized the course, we hadn’t globalized the diploma yet.”

How do you envision the future of education?

“Universities and schools don’t have the monopoly anymore on information, which is a great thing. I don’t see why a university should be able to say, ‘Well you can only become a psychiatrist if you receive the content from us’. It doesn’t make sense, a psychiatrist is a psychiatrist.’

“What universities still have the monopoly on is the accreditation. This is where education is moving to, while content creation and access to education will not come from universities and schools, they will still have the monopoly on approval.’

“Where I hope education will go towards is more balance between working experience and acquiring information. Unfortunately, we have created an imbalance where higher education and schools don’t fully understand what the market needs. You see people graduating and still not finding a job.”

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In which areas do you think we’ll see the biggest changes?

“The biggest change is that we as individuals can empower ourselves much more than ever. We don’t need institutions anymore. We can educate ourselves and we can build companies ourselves.”

Daniel also points out potential challenges: “In future it will be a big challenge to assess people. Like when you have doctors coming from abroad and operating . You want to make sure that the same standards are upheld.’

“I also think identification will be a big challenge. We have seven billion people, but it’s much easier to travel from place to place. So we need to know who this specific person is when he applies after doing a specific education.”

If you were in charge of education what is one change that you would make?

“Fifty per cent of the curriculum of higher education needs to be in the working space and not one place consecutively, but a minimum of three different working spaces. So you know potentially after you studied what you don’t like and perhaps what you do like.”

“Also, working experience is not only with the big corporates, but especially with startups in a small team where you’re not just the person that writes the notes, but you are actually required to implement.”

What are your favorite memories of your education?

“Getting out of my community and meeting people from many different societies and places. I studied abroad in Israel at an international school with students from all over the world and it was an amazing experience. My best friends today are from there. There’s a Colombian, an American, a French guy and me.”

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In what way would you say your education prepared you?

“It would be meeting, working and studying together with people from different societies. I think I would’ve been limited if I studied in a program where many people came from the same background as myself. What I didn’t receive from my education is the content. I was very interested in what I did and I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t say I brought it to my working life.’

“Like I said it’s important to do many more internships, including in places that you won’t enjoy so you know what you don’t want to do. We have to experiment more, we have to try more.”

Cristian Bello, 26, CEO & Founder, Bomberbot

Cristian Bello, 26, CEO & Founder, Bomberbot

What does Bomberbot do?

“Bomberbot empowers teachers in primary schools to teach computer programming to children from the ages of 8 to 12, even if the teachers don’t have a background in technology or programming.”

Why was Bomberbot created?

“I started learning about programming when I was 13 or 14. Later on about three years ago I saw a campaign that was promoting the idea that all children in the US should learn programming, with people like Obama, Bill Gates and Jack Dorsey supporting it.’

“We thought, ‘Why don’t we develop a game or something to show children that this is fun and gives them a basic understanding?’ It’s not that children have to become developers. It’s so they understand how this works, just like biology or history. We know how trees work and a bit about the history of countries, but it doesn’t mean that we have to become experts on that.”

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How do you envision the future of education?

“Of course it’s a lot more digital. With digital products children practice mathematics, music, languages, programming or biology in a really cool way, they play by learning.’

“For adult education, I also think this will be a lot more digital. Today there is a lot more content on the internet than in the past and the quality of the content you can find is extremely good. You don’t need to go to Harvard or Stanford or Yale to get a really good education right now.’

“That’s what I like about technology, the opportunity to learn whatever you want to do. The content is out there, in future it will just be packaged in a more suitable way for the standards of education.”

In which areas do you think we’ll see the biggest changes?

“Hopefully in the way of teaching. At Bomberbot we start from the bottom with children and teach them about programming. If you want to teach people about the environment or gender equality you have to start from the bottom and you have to really engage children to want to learn.”

If you were in charge of education what is one change that you would make?

“I think there is a big problem with budgets in education. In my opinion education is the most important thing for human beings, but it doesn’t matter if you’re in a first world country or a third world country, the resources and budgets are too low.”

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What are your favorite memories of your education?

“I liked teachers and subjects that made me think, like philosophy for example. I remember teachers would ask a question that got into your head and you’d go home and think or read about it. I like the saying, you don’t have to teach people what to think but how to think.”

In what way would you say your education prepared you?

“I can’t say I learned the most from university or from a class, it just set me up to be eager to learn. I didn’t really like university when I was at university.’

“I’ve actually learned a lot from people, both professionally and personally. People who are super experienced whom I’ve talked to and learned about how they’ve done things.”

Photography: Simone Schoutens

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