Heather Hiles has spent 20 years helping to educate underserved children. The former San Francisco School Board Commissioner also ran SF Works, a welfare-to-work program that placed 5,000 women in jobs. During that time she realized that we are all lifelong learners and our experiences in and out of classrooms contribute to the paths we take.
In response, she built Pathbrite, an e-portfolio platform that engages learners as early as elementary school to highlight their best experiences and creations. Each student has a private account where they can own a copy of what Hiles calls “digital artifacts” including school work, test scores, and transcripts. Authenticated diplomas and certificates of completion will soon follow. The content will follow them from high school to college and throughout their careers.
“The benefits of the learning outcomes around portfolios are numerous. I believe students should own their own data whether it is an essay, a video you created, articles you wrote for the school paper, or your transcripts,” says Hiles, who at the Clinton Global Initiative last year pledged to donate 1 million free portfolios to public schools and underserved children.
Some 25 institutions of higher learning, ranging from Stanford University to the University of Illinois, have officially adopted Pathbrite. Now with ACT, the largest provider of pre-college and career readiness tests, as a strategic investor, Pathbrite is the only provider in the market that supplies electronic copies of student’s test scores. Pathbrite for Educators is free for faculty and staff, and pricing for students is only $10 per student per year.
But it’s not just for show. Hiles employs psychometricians to analyze the data and help portfolio owners optimize their next steps. While Pathbrite currently targets students in the higher education space her goal is for it to be a truly mainstream software.
“We are all working on a body of knowledge that is unique to us. With these portfolios, I think we can…take data about what you know and help you achieve your future goals based on what you’re putting in your portfolios and also maybe visualize other peoples’ portfolios that you may want to emulate to help you visualize your path for future success.”
Black Enterprise is recognizing Pathbrite as Tech Startup of the Week for creating an innovative solution to digitizing portfolios and education-related records. Hiles is one of the preeminent thinkers in the EduTech industry and will be speaking at the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit hosted by State Farm on Thursday, February 28 in Orlando, Florida about how to prepare the next generation of powerful women to succeed as part of the 21st-century workforce.