Bridget Burns sees plenty of "superheroes"—26-year-old Silicon Valley types with good intentions, yet little understanding, for how to change higher education. Burns is executive director of the University Innovation Alliance, a coalition of 11 public research universities focused on making quality college degrees accessible to a diverse body of students. The UIA serves 400,000 students, more than a quarter of whom receive Pell grants, across member institutions.
Burns is a firm believer in technology's potential to scale high-quality education to more students, especially those who are first-generation and low-income. But she has some candid advice for the developers who are building tools for these students.
Among her recommendations: Start with empathy, and spend just as much time and energy developing the service as you do the product. For more on what Burns wishes product developers understood about the challenges higher-ed institutions face, tune into this recording of her talk at a recent EdSurge Meetup.