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Today we’re joined by Aaron Schorn, Head of Growth and Community at Unrulr. Aaron is an experienced educator who runs an afterschool social entrepreneurship program for young people. And recently, he introduced Unrulr to us at HRP — in short, it’s one of the only edtech tools we’ve ever recommended, and it’s one of the few edtech tools we’d be comfortable sharing on our podcast.
In short, Unrulr is a storytelling tool to showcase learning. It allows young people and educators to take photos or videos of what they’re doing, tag it according to a value, standard, or objective, then share it online privately or publicly. And what really stood out to me was that students can document their journey overtime, creating posts where they group together these moments and showcase a timeline of learning. We see this as a fantastic tool to document learning, share to families and community members, and act as a way to move away from one-and-done grades and toward narrative assessment.
*We did want to mention that HRP is a promotional partner of Unrulr, and we do have an incentive for people to mention our name when signing up for Unrulr. That said, we would happily recommend the product even without that endorsement.
Aaron Schorn, Head of Growth and Community at Unrulr and Director of the Nalukai Startup Camp, a social entrepreneurship program for young people based in Hawaii
Chris McNutt: Hello, and welcome to Episode 135 of our podcast. My name is Chris McNutt, and I'm part of the progressive education nonprofit Human Restoration Project. Before we get started, I want to let you know that this is brought to you by our supporters, three of whom are Jennifer Mann, David von Reicke, and Lydia McDermott. Thank you for your ongoing support. You can learn more about the Human Restoration Project on our website, humanrestorationproject.org, or find us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Today we're joined by Aaron Schorn, head of growth and community at Unrulr. Aaron is an experienced educator who runs an afterschool social entrepreneurship program for young people, and recently he introduced Unrulr to us at HRP. In short, it's one of the only ed tech tools we've ever recommended, and it's one of the few ed tech tools that we'd be comfortable sharing on our podcast. Unrulr is a storytelling tool to showcase learning. It allows young people and educators to take photos or videos of what they're doing, tag it according to a value standard or objective, then share it online privately or publicly. And what really stood out to me was that students can document their journey over time, creating posts where they group together these moments and showcase a timeline of learning. We see this as a fantastic tool to document learning, share to families and community members, and act as a way to move away from one-and-done grades and toward a more narrative form of assessment. And before we dive too far into it, I did want to mention that HRP is a promotional partner of Unrulr. We do have an incentive for people to mention our name when signing up for the product, but that said, we would happily recommend it even without that endorsement. With all that said, we're happy to welcome Aaron here to the program to talk more about the tool. Welcome to the show, Aaron.
Aaron Schorn: Thank you so much. I'm honored to be here.
CM: For sure. I really want to start with, you know, a little bit about who you are, how you got there, why did you join Unrulr? What's the gist of your involvement?
AS: Yeah, I'll start at the beginning. I grew up in Lesotho in Southern Africa in a really communal learning environment where how we learned, where how we communed with each other was really joyful. And then I moved to Massachusetts and was kind of in the opposite of spaces and really grappled with confidence as a learner and human being and felt like my education was exceptionally lonely. And I had the fortune of marrying someone from Hawaii, an amazing return on investment, and moved to Hawaii and had an early career in business development and operations, but really was always a teacher and was always a mentor. And I got exceptionally lucky and had these incredible mentor teachers, many of whom of Native Hawaiian descent, who almost transported me back to those first seven years of my life in Lesotho, where education was about human connection, it was about relevant learning and apprenticeship and craftsmanship. And I used the tool as an educator, I used the tool as a K-12 capstone coordinator, managing project-based learning capstone courses in fifth, eighth, and twelfth grade. And it completely revolutionized how I thought about learning. And in many ways, kind of Ron Burgard, if you will, this ability of learners to be teachers of other learners, for that visible learning to be really potent and powerful. And when I say Ron Burgard, I mean, he talks about artifacts of excellence in his great book, An Ethic of Excellence, and that really influenced how I thought about learners also being teachers.
CM: Yeah. And it sounds like when you made that move to the States, there's a reflection there in how we assess and how it's connected to society at large, right? America and other westernized countries like it are obsessed with individualized, pick yourself up by the bootstraps, kind of competition by design. Grading mirrors this idea of the goal is to get ahead. We might not say this out loud, but it's at the expense of other people. Not everyone does well, only a certain percentage of people do well. And grades are used as a way to rank, file, and assess. And it sounds like some of the roots of Unrulr and why that was developed was a way to move away from that and to be more cooperative, narrative-based, a way to relate and speak with other people and learn together, as opposed as a way to demean and judge as grades often are.
AS: Yeah. I would totally agree. I mean, it's really beautiful. I'm becoming a teacher. I come from industry. I have immense imposter syndrome because I'm not a classic teacher, right? And I'm trying to disrupt or bring us back to what learning should be, which is rooted in the identity and capacities and interests of you in all of the programs that I'm creating in schools and beyond. And I'm dreaming up Unrulr, essentially, on Google Docs, on napkins, I'm sketching out what this app would look like. And I'm getting my master's on O’ahu at the University of Hawaii. And through friends of friends, I meet Will and Fred, the two founders of Unrulr. And I see the tool for the first time on a mobile device and zero exaggeration, I start crying because it's the fulfillment of sketches, of dreams, of what I needed to be able to switch this narrative, to switch this way of school from passive to active, right? Not only for me was Unrulr this living and breathing portfolio for students, it was a social space for them to teach each other through their posts, through the journeys they create, to be able to inspire each other and to create way more of a collective atmosphere than this individual project-based learning space that I was in before.
CM: Yeah. And to put that into perspective, when you first open up the app, it's ostensibly a social media wall, like an Instagram or Reddit, or one of those things where you're seeing other folks within your community, like your classroom or a series of classroom cohorts, and you're checking out what they posted for that day. You can reply to it. You can add, I think they're flowers, kind of like a set of likes, and plant those next to the post that you enjoy and you appreciate. You really feel the learning come alive by viewing that. Something that I had shared in our initial meeting is, and I don't know if this is the best way to frame this because it kind of comes across as a negative, but it resonated with me, which is, it's what Seesaw is meant to be. As someone who was super involved in using Seesaw and collaborating on that and used to recommend teachers that all the time, it fell through because it tries to do too many different things. Unrulr is simply a space where you share the things you're doing, you're highlighting whatever objectives, and that could be whatever objectives you want it to be, that it meets, and you're sharing it with other people. That's it. I mean, it's that bog standard, but that's the kind of tool we need to liberate the pedagogical process within schools. So with that being said, what is it that you hope educators are doing with the thing? What is the goal of the product?
AS: I think we have a lot of product facing portfolios, cool spaces in education technology that do that. We're really interested in being a process and reflection portfolio on top of product. And the great Angela Stockman, who's at Damon University, talks a lot about the power of pause, allowing learners to pause and reflect. And the equally great Kwaku Enning, who's in San Diego, talks about the power of space and creativity, how you can't just demand a learner to be creative. You have to give them space and time to do that. And Kwaku, myself and Mike Yates had a really great podcast episode about Soulquarians and the power of collectives. Soulquarians is this amazing collective of musicians in the 90s and 2000s that created albums together. And our thesis was that if we can bring that to our classrooms, we can create space for learners to explore their skills and capacities, then we're going to be way better for it. And so I think what we've seen in learning communities is that Unrulr allows learners to have these awesome exit tickets of experiences, video, audio, photos, writing, that capture their experience, but also capture things in the moment. And the fact that the UX and UI of the tool is native to how they already document their lives, the fact that any learning community can take its portraits of a graduate, competencies, its values, and turn those into badges or tags that learners are self-choosing for their posts, I think that's what's been super transformative, not just for schools and learning communities that are shifting to that ungrading competency-based learning space, but for any learning community that wants to have visible learning celebrated.
CM: Exactly. And I think it provides something tangible for folks that want to try something like this out. I know from working with a variety of different schools that the first thing folks are going to tell you is that I get the theory, I understand what it is that I kind of want to do, and I know things need to change, but I don't know where to start. I don't have the proper repertoire, the proper frameworks, whatever it might be to actually do the thing. And in a sense, if you know you're going to be using an app like this, it almost forces you to change pedagogically, because in order to use the tool, you have to put learning in the center of what students are doing, because they're the ones that are choosing what it is that they're doing. It has you create that space, that communal space, without too much of a lift. It doesn't require a ton of preparatory planning. It doesn't require you to have some, I don't know, super nuanced, contextual gradebook in place or something really out there. It's just, hey, go post what you learned today. Write about it for a little bit. Done. That's it. That's pretty much the entire process. The setup process is also super short.
AS: I think yes to everything you're saying. I think a word that's overused a lot in education is differentiation. And we think about it in terms of learning styles, but we don't think about it enough in terms of evidence that is authentic to a learner. We don't think about it in terms of the skills and capacities and backgrounds of our learners enough. And I would say that one of the reasons I work for Unrulr, why I was first a teacher who used it and now an employee is that I've seen differentiation at a whole other level, where a learner who would have never felt comfortable writing a five paragraph essay or having ChatGBT write it for them, or doing an in-person Brene Brown-esque circle sit where they talk about their feelings, has no problem capturing identity or what they're working on via video or via audio paired with some great writing. Allowing your learners to be able to, in different points and times of a school year or in an educational program, have agency over which modality they're capturing evidence of identity, of process, of skill, I think is completely game-changing for learning communities. I saw students of mine say, it's the first time I felt seen and heard. It's the first time I've had choice over how to demonstrate A, B, or C. And that's what I think is revolutionary about the tool.
CM: Right. And there's power too, in just being able for families to see what it is their kids are doing. I mean, sadly, we're at a point where the vast majority of folks, the way that they're obtaining information about what kids are doing in school is a little ding on their phone that they got a 10 out of 10 on an assignment on the LMS. And even if that was an amazingly constructed assignment, like it was something really cool, you're not actually seeing it. You're just kind of seeing the end number, which doesn't necessarily translate to anything of substance. And when you're able to hear from your own kid, Hey, this is what I'm doing. Look how cool this is. That's the exact same thing as how like, you know, when you pick your kid up from school, you say, Hey, what'd you do at school today? Then nine times out of 10, they say, Oh, not that we didn't do anything. And then you learn what they actually did later on. You're like, that's amazing. Like, why are you not sharing these things with? It restores humanity to the space that allows you to think more critically about what is happening in classrooms, what my kids getting out of it, why this is important and allows me to potentially, as a parent or family member, to become involved. Because if I see what they're doing, I might, you know, talk to them about it. I might get involved with the school, you know, whatever.
AS: I have two quick anecdotes about that. So my first job in schools was as the webmaster, was as the storyteller for a school. And I knew that I couldn't tell the story without students. I formed this incredible student team and we built the websites and had these great student videographers and we made all the videos and I started teaching digital journalism. And at the core of everything was story. The core of everything was their story and how I could harness that, how I could hijack that right to get them interested in learning the technical skills of the course I was teaching. And parents care about story, right? In my role as a storyteller for the school, it was show, not tell. Don't make an empty platitude about diversity. Don't make an empty platitude about, you know, innovation. Show people what DEI looks like in a school. Show people what, you know, youth are able to achieve in the projects they're able to create. And so that totally manifests in evidence of learning for parents. One of my biggest mentors, Bill Wicking at HPA, Hawaii Preparatory Academy, this great school in the Big Island, he and his students were using Unrulr. And in Unrulr, you're in these private communities, right? And only those people in those communities see access to the posts and journeys you're creating. But with the right security settings, a learner can publish one of their posts and turn it into this shareable link similar to like a published Google doc people can't edit. And so Bill had his students once a month publish two of their posts and share them with their families and email their families. And this dad, like, and I'm trying not to tear up, like, said, this is the first time, I think his daughter was a junior, I have ever seen evidence of who my child is as a scientist and as a learner, right? That he had waited that long and that we were a conduit, right? Because the evidence, you know, was her displaying these competencies and skills, video and photos and writing that also showcased metacognition, critical thinking and understanding, and a smile at the end as she was sharing it with her family. The other anecdote is we're working with this incredible school in California and eighth graders are using them. And there's one student who's Mexican American, whose mother doesn't speak English and has never had access to what her daughter is doing outside of when the school translates its documentation into Spanish. And so this learner did most of her posts in Unrulr in Spanish, her video posts, recapturing what she's doing because she knew it was going to be shared with her mom, right? And the fact that we were able to, you know, amplify that code switching is like why I have this job, you know, that we are tackling and dismantling some of these colonized ways of assessment and sharing learning. And like you said, really trying to make this human centered and joyous is what's exciting.
CM: The personal attachment and ability to resonate with the school, within a family community, within a community at large, I think is a huge portion of this. And also just one more just tangible thing is that at the end of the process, when you have this link where you can showcase a whole series of posts, like you could showcase like 10 posts over the course of let's say three months, it allows you, let's say if you have an exposition of learning, if you have some kind of semester end event, whatever it might be, even it's like a newsletter, it allows you to highlight process over product. As someone who is really into design thinking, did a lot of project-based learning, a lot of interdisciplinary stuff, one of the more unfortunate things is I would always preach process over product. It didn't matter if your final product didn't work because at the end of the day, you'll learn something along the way. But if you're doing an exposition of learning and you're sitting there with an unfinished product and you're talking about the journey, it kind of sucks because no one actually sees any of that process. They just see the fact that you have nothing to present or it doesn't look too hot. This allows someone to actually visualize, hey, look at everything that went into this. It also helps mirror the real world more in the sense that you're going to work on a lot of stuff that's not going to work, that's going to fail. That doesn't mean that that entire process wasn't worthwhile. It's just that you learn something along the way.
AS: You hit on the most important thing about Unrulr, which is fighting the perfectionist nature of schools. It doesn't matter if you graduate from an elite high school and you have your 4.12 GPA and I guess 5.2. You don't know how to get imperfect work out into the world. You have been traumatized to only put out work that is quote-unquote an A plus. That is so antithema to how the working world works. That is so antithema to how relationships work. I think one of the big parts of Unrulr is celebrating not just failure, which is an overused statement, but celebrating learning and the different journeys that go within it. There's another school in California where a student had a 45-minute presentation. They were using Unrulr and 20 minutes the student is done talking. There's that awkward silence because there's 25 minutes left and it doesn't really display a quote unquote successful product. The teacher says, hey, go on your computer, share screen, show everyone this authentic audience in this public exhibition what you did, how you learned, how you grew and went into their Unrulr feed, went into the posts, the journeys and lit up talking about their process and how they grew. That flipped that narrative where now process is enshrined and celebrated just as much as product.
CM: And there's a million different examples of that, whether it be portfolio-driven or just in the way that we can move away from traditional one-and-done assignments. I still remember it was my second or third year teaching. I was still giving traditional multiple choice tests in a history class. I remember I just started pulling the kids out one by one after they had failed an assignment. They got like a five out of 10 or whatever. And I remember I would pull the kids out one by one and say, hey, talk to me more about question number five. Here's a little more information about it. And then they would go, oh, I know that. I just didn't really understand what the question was asking. And then they would give me the right answer along the way. And every single kid I would pull out, even kids that I thought were maybe a little more disengaged, you didn't really seem like they were doing much, were able to answer the vast majority of the questions once we turned it into a conversation and once we made it a little bit less formalized. A lot of times just the nature of the assessment itself detracts from what the learning could be. And we lose a lot of that narrative in the process. However, I do want to go big picture here for a second. And this is going to go a little bit off the rails. There are going to be folks that say, hey, why would we do this when the real world is unforgiving? And I want to read this quote to you and see how, if this resonates with what's going on with Unrulr. I was just putting a bunch of quotes together for some professional development that we're doing. And it's from a book called Teacher and Child, which is by Haim Ganah or Gano, however you pronounce it. I'm not sure if you're familiar with him. He was really big in like the 70s, the child psychologist. And he wrote, some teachers say life is hard and full of insult. We must prepare children to cope with it by giving them a taste of insult in school. It is true that modern life is often like a rat race. People struggle to be first in line. They push, wrestle, insult, and lie. Do we want to prepare children for such life? No. On the contrary, we need to tell children that rat races are not good for people. We want school to be not a replica of, but an alternative to, raw reality. Such a school needs teachers with sophisticated sensitivity and effortless empathy. I'm curious like how you see like that rat race and competitive component and the philosophy slash pedagogy of Unrulr coming together.
AS: Effortless empathy. So the other hat I wear is I run a youth entrepreneurship program in Hawaii called Nalukai. Done it for nine years, 10 cohorts. We've taken lean startup methodology, agile project management, and connected it to Hawaiian culture, kind of redefining what entrepreneurship looks like. And in nine years of doing this program, can you guess what the number one technical skill is?
CM: Is it empathy?
AS: It's human connection. It is the ability to connect with others. It is the ability to form teams, to deal with setbacks. It's all the things that are called soft skills, right? More important than coding language, any other quote-unquote technical skill, when you have that as a starting place, you're able to thrive. And I think like when you look at stuff like lean startup or the idea of a minimum viable product, right? A prototype of an idea that gets you data that all requires iteration, requires bravery and getting an unfinished thing out in the world to get actual feedback and data on. And that has a ton, I mean, that has to be rooted in empathy, kindness, curiosity. That to me is the core of what is going to make someone quote unquote successful in their professional career and personal lives. And I think at the same time is a really beautiful counterbalance to chat GPT, AI, the wave of what we're going to be seeing in the next couple of years. And what we're currently seeing too, is that ability to utilize those tools, but to connect with others, to showcase evidence that is infectious that people want to celebrate and share.
CM: And it also just kind of gets back to how we learn more generally. Learning is all based on human connection. And I've done what little research I have partially through actually our intern at HRP who's currently living in Hawaii. I'll need to get you two connected. But Hawaii is very much rooted in values of progressive education. Public schools in Hawaii care a lot about progressive ed, perhaps because they've been isolated from the continental United States. They didn't have the same push toward more standardized, more rote. Although it does exist, it doesn't have the same wherewithal there. And part of that is because of indigenous Hawaiian ways of being, ways of knowing that are rooted in narratives as really all learning has been before like the modern invention of schooling. And I can't help but notice that there's a serious connection between narrative style ways of learning and human connection. The fact that you're in Hawaii and the fact that Unrulr doesn't really push you at all into making assignments, to giving grades, to telling someone that they didn't do well versus did well. There's not really a lot of assessment at all. It's just kind of like, hey, let's talk about stuff. What's the roots of that? Where does that all come from?
AS: I mean, it comes from one of our founders, Will Rapoon. Will comes from this family of status quo pokers. The Rapoon family sued the government for water rights for native Hawaiians. For farming and for agriculture. And Will went to the gilded Punahou, great independent school in Hawaii, and then the gilded Harvard, where he was a computer scientist. And didn't love either of those experiences because who he was as a learner, as a Hawaiian, was not represented. Story was not celebrated. Assessment was not relevant feedback. It was simply a system that he knew how to play. And so he and Fred Elsie, the other founder, initially created Unrulr to allow communities, to allow learners to actually display skills. To irrefutably showcase growth and to have their identities and humanity be central to that experience. And just the UX and UI of the tool, the reduction of friction to allowing a learner to capture what they're working on or how they're feeling, to me is the centerpiece of what we're trying to do. Which is just celebrating who we are. Celebrating the peaks and valleys, the ups and downs of our learning journey. And then trying to hijack assessment and to make those celebrations really what gets us to the next stage of our lives, jobs and universities.
CM: Exactly. I mean, what stood out most to me, and the reason why I'm so excited about it, is not based around necessarily what it does, but by what it doesn't do. And the exact same way that classrooms, the number one thing to look for is not all the things that they're doing, it's for all the things that they aren't doing. EdTech products tend to throw everything at the window. They want every single possible thing to be instilled within their product. And when that happens, it tends to become a more and more traditional product. And I say that in scare quotes in the sense that most EdTech products tend to center surveillance. They tend to take away data privacy of kids. They tend to be focused on some means of tracking, or I would argue, distrusting kids. Because they're all rooted in the idea of how can we, I guess, standardize and check as many boxes as possible to ensure kids graduate, or whatever the framing might be. But at the end of the day, they're all about, did all the kids turn in the assignment? Yes or no? Why? Okay, let's go on to the next thing. And let's make it as simple as possible and make that thing happen. And even products that might say the right thing and might have a lot of cool uses also run into some issues when it comes to like, well, how much are we valuing kids' identities? Both in terms of like, literally, like how much are we bringing their identities into the framework and their student voice? But also in terms of their data identity, are we selling their data? There's not very many tools that actually trust kids with data use and you're just kind of throwing your kids out to the wind in the world of online stuff. Could you speak a little bit to how you're dealing with the fact that you're an online product, how you're designing the product, what that looks like data privacy wise, kind of all of the above?
AS: Yeah, I mean, we're COPPA and FERPA compliant. The beautiful part of becoming a preferred provider for the Hawaii DOE is that it was an insanely arduous process. So that means that all of our policies around data are above board, above best practice. What's really cool about Unrulr is that a user not only keeps their data, they can keep using the tool after graduation. They can keep building a portfolio or journal of learning. And we're one of the only EdTech products that I've heard of that allow a learner to switch their school email to their personal email, giving them access to just their posts and the ability to continue to build upon the learning and documentation that's there. Building off of your beautiful comment, trust is so vital in learning in school and allows us to give learners freedom when we trust them. And I remember my use case, building a senior capstone program, brand new at a school, it's beautiful culminating experience, year long project-based learning. And I did a really good job with Pualani Lincoln and other teachers and mentors of creating a great structure. And of course I overstructured. We all do that in PBL because we fetishize rigor and we have imposter syndrome about, is this as rigorous as the AP class that's happening in the building over, right? And slowly I started removing milestone assignments, too many presentations, because I wanted them to be ready for the final presentation of the year. All of these assignments were about us, the teachers. It was our fear of students not doing work over the course of the year. Much of that fear was true. Like if we didn't create structure for students that had no project management experience, not a lot of work is happening. So for me, Unrulr was a trust vehicle. It was a transparency vehicle. I would have these micro check-ins like scrums where each week learners would capture via a multitude of media, what they worked on, what they're thinking about. I would have these reflections that showcase the skill and growth that they were learning and would have these prompts that are really geared towards specific outcomes or milestones. And once that culture of learning was visible, once learners were seeing other learners journeys, right? I shifted the power balance of this program where now learners were teachers, as much as I was a teacher, where learners were facilitators of each other's knowledge. And as that confidence and sense of belonging grew, we created a collective, right? Tons of tons of holes that came and emerged. I think back on that program and things I'm proud of, things I'm not. But what I'm super proud of is we shifted learning from passive to active. And we empowered our learners to really take hold of the experience.
CM: And when you give learners the opportunity to share those things and you develop that culture and you have that trust, you fight back against the assumption that more active project-based, problem-based, whatever you want to call it, type learning is somehow less rigorous. With again, that word as problematic as it is, if we take it at what it literally means on paper, when it's like intensive learning, challenging, whatever word you might want to replace with it. The fact of the matter is, is that a more progressive style or human-centered form of education is more challenging and rigorous. Because when you place kids solving authentic problems in their community, where they work with other people and they need to post about it, that is filled with unknown solutions, creative task solving, working with other people. All those things are not only much more college and career ready, but they're also way more challenging than doing a 10 point multiple choice test or memorizing an answer for like a blue book or some kind of college assessment. It's the reason why folks who tend to do very well academically, like all A students, all like AP kids, et cetera, tend to struggle a lot in the quote-unquote real world or even at a college campus. Because the more and more you pull back from teacher and control, the more and more you pull back from there's always one right answer and there's always a workbook that you work through to get it, moving away from compliance, the more and more you start to think to yourself, well, what the hell do I do? What is the thing that I'm supposed to do now? That requires all those other skills that you learned along the way, the soft skills or 21st century skills and whatever. We've been saying this for decades, arguably over a century at this rate. If you go back to Francis Parker writing about the doing Dewey stuff in, I think that's Chicago. We know these things. It's just the will to take these things on and also practical tools like this one that could be a way that you could encourage others to start seeing these things without having them to make it from scratch.
AS: What's so exciting about what Unrulr does is that it annotates just like one would annotate when they're reading a book. You go back, you highlight, you think, you ponder so that when you write that research paper, you're not rereading the book again. In projects, I never had a tool that did that. All of the magic of learning, that big realization a learner makes when their MVP falls flat or the getting over the hump as they're building something physical, whether it's a surfboard or mechanical project, all of that now becomes captured, not just for the big presentation, but for a learner's life. One of my favorite use cases comes out of University of Kentucky. John Nash, who is a brilliant design thinking teacher there, uses Unrulr with his undergrads, also with his PhD and MBA students. John Nash uses it as almost like a muscle memory tool around metacognition and thinking about how we learn. There are these once a week or twice a week video prompts that he has an Unrulr for his learners. They're just like, hey, where are you at in the design thinking cycle? What are you grappling with? What are you thinking about? Every week, his learners are pausing. There's space for them to think, and they're capturing where they're at. What's so remarkable is that John and a teacher he was co-teaching the class with, an architecture professor, were iterating their course based on those reflections, which is the most human centered thing to do as a teacher. I'm actually going to see where my learners are at, what's resonating with them, what makes sense, what doesn't. I'm actually going to turn my lexicon into something that's visual and understand what's happening in the background. And he iterated his class. He changed his curriculum based on that. To me, that's amazing. To me, that's why we do what we do.
CM: For sure. And when you visualize through narrative and through stories and through evidence, you counteract the far too often case, which is we tend to visualize student learning through numbers. And when you reduce people to a number, you start to get very comfortable with moving on. I'm very critical of tools like Kahoot. And I'm myself guilty of this. As someone who used Kahoot at many points in the classroom, kids would answer a question, 85% would get the question right. And I put down, doing well, move on. We got the 85%. But when you reduce it to a number, that means that 15% of kids who didn't get it, who don't know what's going on, I guess screw them. I guess we're just moving on. Who cares? Because you're missing out on that human connection, which was, did they get it or did they not get it? So with that said, we're running short on time. I do want to ask and make sure that people understand how do they get involved? What are the next things? What is Unrulr thinking about? How do folks get involved with Unrulr? All that kind of stuff.
AS: Well, one, thank you for this joyous conversation. I think they get involved. And two, they get involved by going to Unrulr.com, scheduling a demo, signing up for a free trial, testing it out, creating a sandbox. They get involved by following us, listening to our content and providing feedback. They get involved by talking to other communities that they think this is a great fit in. What's next for us is continuously iterating the product based on its use. What I'm really proud of, and this does not happen really that much at all in ed tech, is that our features come from what our learners want. So like the journey feature in Unrulr, it's really cool. Learners take multiple posts that they've created and turn them into a timeline or narrative. And there's cool metacognition critical thinking, but they're creating the story of learning at any point in time in their usage of the tool. That came from a school in Ukiah, California, a big picture learning school. Shout out to big picture learning. And they eloquently talked about what they needed. We saw a need in other communities. The audio feature in Unrulr, which is similar to other audio features and other tools, not only is a learner now able to capture a reflection or evidence of learning in audio, it annotates and visualizes all that audio too. That came directly from a need in our learning communities too. So what's next for us is to continue to grapple with being a tool in a quote-unquote innovative space. It's for us to continue to grapple with how do we not be too prescriptive, but how do we help learning communities do reflection sometimes for the first time? What's next for us is more conversations with people like you and getting the word out and finding amazing use cases and people to use the tool so that we can make it better.
CM: Awesome. And I mean, seeing is believing in the sense that we'll link in our show notes, some examples of those journeys and what it looks like and all that kind of stuff, as well as a link to check out the website. If you're not checking out the show notes, do note that Unrulr is U-N-R-U-L-R. There's no E in Unrulr. So if you're going to Google it, that might be useful to know. As well as the pricing, I think is fairly affordable. There's individual licenses, site licenses, nonprofit license. You can check that all out on their website. But again, Aaron, thanks for joining us. Appreciate you sharing all this stuff with us and working on the tool.
AS: Thank you so much. Thanks for the work you do. And your listeners are amazing.
CM: We're excited to try to connect with them. whole host of free resources, writings, and other podcasts, all for free on our website, humanrestorationproject.org. Thank you.