Originally posted by christopher spanis on February 1, 2020
Vishal Punwani, M.D.
CEO, Co-Founder Sophya
Sophya is an online student support platform. It facilitates more effective studying with easy implementation of seemingly complex tools, such as taking time-synchronized study notes with an educational video, the ability to write and draw on top of videos with timestamps, summarize readings and take notes in a side-by-side browser window, make and study digital flash-cards, and more. The platform organizes subject material into customizable learning paths and tracks time spent on the platform, presenting the user detailed broken down study analytics. The basic service is free with a $5/month option providing cloud storage space and the ability to export user’s own videos. Enterprise version allows tracking of student analytics, curating content, linking external sources, and organizing group spaces.
Founder Vishal Punwani grew up in Victoria, BC, Canada from a family of Jamaican immigrants. He completed a B.Sc. at the University of Victoria followed by medical school at the University of Melbourne, Australia. In addition to serving as CEO and Cofounder of Sage Learning Inc., Vish also works on the MD curriculum and learning technologies at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and is a consultant to the World Health Organization and the International Telecommunications Union in Geneva. Vish has a Certificate in Healthcare Leadership and Innovation from the Harvard Macy Institute. Vish approaches his work from a standpoint of care and compassion; he gives a great deal of credit for his own success to those who mentored and supported him in his life and learning journey. I believe that this perspective influences his own motivation for helping students to learn and succeed – passion and hard work should be enough to yield success, rather than students getting hampered by content delivery methods that may not work for everyone.
I had a chance to beta test the platform back in 2018 when it was called Sage. In a relatively short time the Sophya platform has gone from a Khan Academy-style video creation tool for teachers to help their students, to a large online learning platform facilitating learning support and communities around learning paths. As of September 2019, more than 4000 students were using the platform at multiple institutions, with more interested parties signing on. The Sophya team is a close-knit community of specialists who focus on refining the user interface as the key element of the platform; a student assistance tool can’t help students if it’s not easy to use. The team is nimble, soliciting and quickly responding to feedback from users.