Opportunities abound for building a business around the engagement and effectiveness of online learning, Schaeffer said. “It’s actually still, in my opinion, virgin ground. There’s so much we can do in this space that we’re not doing yet.”
Onlea explores these possibilities through LX Laboratorieswhich helps organizations and individuals develop ways to exchange knowledge, and Project KIND (for Knowledge INDex), the company’s first foray into research and development, using natural language processing to develop a new type of search engine for learners.
The secret to success in this area is “to honor a student’s attention, to honor their ability to finish, and also to honor their ability to engage,” she said. “Don’t (force) them to do something boring just because you have this wonderful college name behind you.”
While Lopez Forero handles the day-to-day management of Onlea, Schaeffer pursues similar goals through her day-to-day work as Vice President of Information Technology at Athabasca UniversityCanada’s online university.
“I’m still really learning about the ecosystem of what it could be, so that when the day comes, and someone says, ‘How can we build a university from scratch, that’s better? “I’ll be the person to say, ‘I got this one.'”
This is the kind of figure she has done all her life.
“My own background is that of a creative technologist. I learned to code at a very young age, just simple stuff using books that would teach you how to make games,” she said. “Gaining knowledge, figuring out how to master a body of knowledge, sharing knowledge and teaching others, that’s sort of what I’ve been since I was 11 years old.”
Learn more about how Schaeffer traveled to Edmonton from New York, why she loves it, and what she sees as the future of education in Canada in the October 6 episode.