We’re parents, teachers, researchers, programmers, customer advocates, and, above all, learners.
OpenBook’s philosophy and execution grew from a synthesis of research in developmental reading and the field of rich-media, human-computer interfaces. This early and ongoing integration of advanced rich-media technology and metacognitive reading theory places OpenBook in a unique position.
In the early 1980’s, Columbia University developmental reading researcher Dr. John Henry Martin teamed with James Dezell, an IBM senior executive who was positioning IBM to be a leader in educational information technology. Their goal was to create computer-assisted learning systems that delivered instruction in the ways users think and acquire skills most effectively during the process of learning to read. The result, IBM’s Writing to Read system, was recognized as the leading literacy solution of its time. IBM’s education division, Eduquest, became a leading provider of educational technology, with Writing to Read establishing an installed base in over 17,000 schools.
When IBM left the educational software market in the mid-90’s, James Dezell and Doug Winter, a key member of IBM’s Eduquest team, founded what is now OpenBook Learning, Inc., with the philosophy of continuing the development of programs that combined rich-media instruction with the most current research in how people learn the intricate and complex skill of reading. This philosophy means OpenBook English is the natural migration path of this research and of the Writing to Read system.
Matthew Glavach, Ph.D., teacher, researcher, and writer, has authored and coauthored over 30 educational programs, including High Interest Teaching Systems, HITS, a popular music based reading program for older struggling readers, and Reading with Donny and Marie Osmond, an original music based reading program for younger readers, and research articles, including “Breaking the Failure Pattern” and “Teaching the Unteachables.” Dr. Glavach’s recent research has resulted in the Core Reading program that short-circuits reading intervention for older struggling readers. With his Northern California company Glavach and Associates, Dr. Glavach is committed to improving student literacy. Dr. Glavach led the development of OpenBook’s Advanced Structural Literacy Component.
Francis Sopper combines a career as an educator and a business leader whose focus has been the dynamic between learning theory and learning technology. Frank logged onto his first computer in 1969 as a young high school student chosen to be allowed access to the Dartmouth University computer network. The Dartmouth project was an early experiment in the use of the power of computer technology to influence how people think and learn.
By 1980, Frank was invited to join the Harvard-MIT Educational Technology Center to lend his expertise as a practicing teacher to the first experiments using the personal computer to educate young children. At the same time, Frank joined a team supervised by Harvard psychologist Dr. Howard Gardner, whose book, Frames of Mind, summarized Gardner’s research on the theory of multiple forms of intelligence. The team met with Gardner to produce practical applications of Gardner’s research to be applied as school curriculum. The confluence of these experiences led to the realization that the personal computer could be used as a powerful tool to present diverse learning experiences in a variety of media and formats.
Frank’s work in Cambridge led him to Los Angeles where he led curriculum and faculty development for The Buckley School. The success of the Buckley curriculum under Frank’s leadership attracted the attention of the UCLA School of Education. Frank led a team of teachers chosen to train UCLA graduate students in practical applications of advanced learning theory.
In 1992, Frank joined the faculty of Landmark College, whose program was lauded by the Wall Street Journal as the best in the nation at teaching students with learning disabilities and attention-deficit disorder. Frank was awarded with a Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching and was named Dean of Admission in 1995.
Under Frank’s direction, the admissions office set 13 consecutive records for student enrollment. During his tenure in admissions, Frank used student performance data to predict correct strategies that would produce maximum success for students with diverse forms of intelligence.
At the recommendation of Robert Lefton, Ph.D. CEO of Psychological Associates a leading corporate consulting firm, Frank and members of Landmark College’s Board of Trustees, created Optimind Training and Consulting, Inc. Optimind was created to bring the college’s advanced knowledge of learning theory and learning strategies to corporate learning. Early participants included the Psychological Associates senior staff, the CEO and executive team of Ford Financial, the leadership of Columbia Teacher’s College Innovations, the leadership of Oregon State University, and the senior staff of David Allen Company, a management-efficiency consultancy. A partnership with the Bob Pike Group, the nation’s largest train-the-trainer firm, brought Optimind to numerous corporate and educational clients.
In 2001, Optimind merged with Sequoyah Literacy Systems, a learning technology firm founded by James Dezell, President of IBM’s billion-dollar Eduquest division. This merger created OpenBook Learning where Frank is a partner, member of the Board of Directors, and President.