Interview with Spinndle Co-Founders, Jacqueline Robillard and Kristina Tzetzos.

What traction do you have so far?
We ran our first pilot in April 2019 in 7 schools and 16 classrooms in British Columbia, Canada. Through this Pilot Program, we secured contracts with three school districts. 

We have also partnered with the Centre for Imagination in Research, Culture and Education (CIRCE), specifically their Learning in Depth program, which has a global reach of teachers, as well as the Canadian Assessment for Learning Network (CAfLN). We will be running webinars for these groups of teachers beginning in the fall. 

Pilot teachers used Spinndle to track process for all types of  learning activities. To quote one of our pilot teachers, Spinndle is a “motivating and authentic way to make students think critically about their competency development in relation to any learning activity.” Teachers created their own quests (learning activities) to engage students in discussions, self-reflections, SEL, PBL, STEM, inquiry-based learning, passion projects and more. 

What is the story and inspiration behind starting Spinndle?

As teachers, we couldn’t get in every kid’s corner to mentor and support their individual learning journeys, so we left teaching to create a space where every kid’s corner could be brought to us. Teachers are getting slammed with buzzwords: personalized learning, student-centered learning, inquiry-based, growth-mindset, skill-based etc. They all mean the same thing – a student is building the skills to learn for themselves. But, skill progression takes time and practice. As teachers, our job was to mentor the process of learning, but to track this we felt we had to clone ourselves to witness and guide every draft, every pivot, every eureka.

We knew that to properly assess process and growth in skills, our assessments needed to be based on a chronicle of events, not just a single event. Students need multiple opportunities to demonstrate their work and apply feedback and teachers need instant clarity into the mindset of each student in order to mentor their process. And thus, Spinndle was born! 

What is the unmet market need or challenge that Spinndle is addressing?
It’s quite simple: learning has changed to be skill- and student-centered, so the traditional infrastructure of current LMSs needs to move away from the “submit and grade” format to host a student’s iterations in order to track ongoing skill progression. Assessment needs to be based on a chronicle of events, rather than a single event. Furthermore, to provide authentic skill- and student-centered learning, awareness and assessment needs to be transparent and governed by the student. They are the ones developing the skills, so they are the ones who should own the assessment process.

How does your company solve the proposed problem and why you’re the team to solve this problem?
Spinndle makes skill-development practical and tangible. Students document their learning process as they share everything—their drafts, pivots, eurekas. Now, teachers can quickly orient themselves to where each student is, and spend their time mentoring as documentation is taken care of for them. Spinndle threads together all of a student’s drafts leading up to their final product, so teachers can measure and mentor the growth that matters.

On Spinndle, students become active assessors driving assessment as and for learning: as, by self-assessing on skills and providing critical feedback for peers, and for, by acting on feedback from teacher and peers—understanding where to go next and how to get there.

Spinndle was born of a need experienced by our co-founders who both taught in elementary and secondary over the past seven years. Our team understands the realities of a classroom and the challenges today’s teachers are facing. We strive to honour, support, and compliment the great work already being done in schools to personalize learning for students.

Why are you participating in the LearnLaunch Accelerator? Why did you choose this program?
We attended the LearnLaunch Across Boundaries conference this past winter and immediately recognized alignment between the LearnLaunch community and ourselves. We recognize and appreciate that we are less experienced in the entrepreneurial aspects of launching our business, but we as co-founders share significant combined experience to deliver a valuable product to this market. We think the LearnLaunch organization addresses some of the gaps we have and compliments our strengths to help us accelerate our business.

The LearnLaunch partnership with ETS only fueled our interest in this program because of their expertise in assessment, particularly assessment for/as learning–frameworks we aim to directly address in our platform. 

Learn more about Spinndle here.