Luis von Ahn, Duolingo Founder, Keynotes Big Ideas Fest 2015

Annual Convening Continues To Inspire and Seed Innovations in Education
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Nov. 30, 2015 - PRLog -- Delivering the opening keynote at Big Ideas Fest 2015, an annual convening of innovators in education hosted by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME), will be Luis von Ahn, an entrepreneur and computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Considered one of the pioneers of crowdsourcing, the MacArthur Fellow invented CAPTCHAs – now a standard technology for verifying that a human being and not a machine-driven algorithm is logging onto a site.

ISKME founder and CEO Lisa Petrides said von Ahn was selected to speak about Duolingo, a language learning project, which is aligned with ISKME’s mission: to offer free, high-quality learning resources to teachers, students, and learners through collaborative sharing of knowledge. Duolingo brings free language education to 100 million users by leveraging those same users to crowdsource translation online.

“What better way to demonstrate the power of the Internet than to impart knowledge freely while at the same time enlisting the resources of its hundreds of millions of users,” said ISKME’s Petrides. Eight years ago, ISKME founded the Open Education Resources (OER) Commons, the world’s largest free, high-quality library of openly licensed teaching and learning resources.

“OER, like Duolingo,” says Petrides, “is both created and shared by its users, a true democratization of knowledge.”

The three day convening, which will take place Dec. 2-5, 2015 at the historic Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose, Calif., has featured educators like Salman Khan, who have used this platform to launch their innovations. Now in its seventh year, Big Ideas Fest draws 175 educators, policy makers, edupreneurs, philanthropists, and students. During the event, participants engage in hands-on workshops called Action Collabs, where they apply design thinking to develop prototypes for solving issues in education.

In addition, a dozen rapid-fire speakers will include Dale Russakoff, author of The Prize, about the attempt to reform public schools in Newark, N.J., with a $100 million grant from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg; Tony Brown, executive director of Heart of LA, providing underserved youth with free, after-school programs in academics, arts, and athletics; and Kylee Majkowski, a fifth grader who founded Tomorrow’s Lemonade Stand, offering girls and boys affordable resources and tools to promote entrepreneurial education. Kicking off the first full day will be a storytelling panel, where participants will hear first-person narratives from three educators working directly with at-risk and in-risk youth and adults. These narratives will inform the day’s design challenge, focused on how might we create learning opportunities to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline.

Aiming to improve early childhood literacy is the Always Dream Foundation, founded by Big Ideas Fest speaker and Olympic figure skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi to connect e-books and technology to teach pre-schoolers to read. Another kind of literacy will be addressed by Jason Young, co-founder of MindBlown Labs, creator of a mobile application to teach students financial literacy by shaping their own financial futures with high-quality, easily accessible curriculum that supports classroom teaching.

Returning speakers include Ali Partovi, tech entrepreneur and seed investor, who with his brother co-founded to generate excitement among K-12 students in computer science, and Shiza Shahid, former executive director of the Malala Fund, supporting education for girls whose namesake founder, Malala Yousafzai, was winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.

Keynoting the closing day, Dec. 5, is Douglas Gayeton, co-founder of the Lexicon of Sustainability, which through its Project Localize trains students across the U.S. and Mexico to unearth and share sustainability stories with their communities.

For more information about ISKME, the pioneering nonprofit hosting the event, see


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