Situated in Toronto, Bobby is a young entrepreneur that identified a problem that stemmed from his own experience in both his independent school and post-secondary education. The issue was the perceived disconnectedness of online discussions that were predominantly used in his courses. His product, Parlay Ideas endeavours to enhance online discussions by incorporating round table discussion and blended learning pedagogies into an enhanced discussion platform system that promotes and enhance student-driven discussions. They claim that research suggests that quality discussions “increase learning outcomes” and “encourage open-mindedness, foster empathy for different perspectives, and help students develop interpersonal relationship skills.”. Parlay structures online discussions into three phases, first the prompt, then the online discussion, then a live discussion. All three phases are enhanced in some way with technology either through feedback tools, gamification or live response systems and analytics to give the students and the teacher a wide variety of ways to assess learning, engagement and understanding.
Although young, Bobby has found ways to connect with knowledgeable people in his immediate networks and branched out from there. He is a skilful communicator that listens to feedback and incorporates it into his system. He understands that good pedagogy wins teachers over and so he has sought out and connected to many of the same education thought leaders that I have (as seen from his LinkedIn Profile). This vast network of innovative thinkers (Cohort21, CISOntario) have led to Parlay being adopted by many teachers in some of the leading independent schools in Ontario. After a startup incubation period at Ryerson’s DMZ Parlay has established an office in Toronto and have ventured out on their own in an attempt to scale and grow their brand. I choose to profile Bobby because I have had the opportunity to meet him and see him pitch several times and each time his pitch has improved in depth and understanding of discussion-based learning. He is not a teacher himself, but he has surrounded himself with them, and as a result, he has learned their language and communicates in a way that teachers understand. I admire his ability to communicate passionately and his openness to feedback and hope that when I speak to others about my potential entrepreneurial ideas that I elicit the same feelings from others.