Tech Founder Will Lucas of Classana Says the Future of Education Will Be Self Curated
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

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Will Lucas launched Classana to help lifelong learners accomplish their immediate and long term goals. (Image: Christian Bishop)

Reforming America’s fractured education system will require an infusion of innovation. To cultivate a conversation about the critical challenges facing American education, Black Enterprise partnered with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to host Today’s Business Crisis: Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce, a symposium to be held May 15, 2013.

Over the past several months, Black Enterprise and The Gates Foundation have been traveling to select cities across the nation to draw upon the resources of top leaders in business, philanthropy, and education to help find solutions and resources within their communities.

Next week, we’ve selected a group of experts and entrepreneurs in the hi-tech industry who have a dedicated interest in expanding and implementing new technologies in classrooms to assist teachers, inspire students, and sustain parents.

Included among our speakers in Columbus, Ohio is Will Lucas, founder of Toledo, Ohio-based Classana. He will speak on a panel about using technology to develop new learning models to engage and improve the academic performance of K-12 students, as well as prepare them for post-secondary education. Classana is an online education discovery engine that provides users with recommendations to the next steps in their education, career, and interests based on a proprietary matching algorithm and machine learning.

We chose Lucas because of his courage to think outside of the box. While most voices in education reform focus on a diploma as the end-game goal, Lucas recognizes that matriculation isn’t for everyone and some students should focus on obtaining the marketable skills they need to be an asset to their future employers.

Lucas is on to something. More than 40% of recent U.S. college graduates are underemployed or need more training to get on a career track, according to a poll released on Tuesday by the global management consulting firm Accenture. Moreover, the survey of 1,050 workers who finished school in the past two years, and 1,010 who will receive their degree in 2013, also found that many were in jobs that didn’t require a college degree at all. This is all occurring at a time when the cost of a college education is at an all time high.

As such, Classana aims to make the process of obtaining those skills a lot easier when you’re not inside the walls of an institution of higher learning.

Leading up to the symposium next week, Lucas happily agreed to share his thoughts on the problems within our educational system, his own experiences trying to become degreed and why he believes education will become a fully entrepreneurial endeavor in the future.

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.