Did you know computer literacy is becoming an essential prerequisite for most 21st century jobs1, yet many students around the world still lack access to technology? After attending the Intel® Global Challenge at UC Berkeley, Kiril Rusev, a young Bulgarian with a big idea, turned his vision for transforming classrooms into reality.
Technology can motivate students and enhance the learning process, but schools around the world lack the funds to provide a computer for every student. Kiril Rusev was all too aware of this problem, having attended school in Bulgaria in classrooms that he says looked "like something from the last century."
When he was tasked with developing a project for a college business plan competition, he came up with an idea that he believed could change everything for the next generation: Enable multiple students to use a single computer simultaneously.
Rusev’s solution was really quite simple: Provide a mouse for each student to interact with a single computer in a classroom. The idea was strong enough that it garnered attention at a regional business plan competition and earned Rusev a much-coveted spot at the Intel Global Challenge, a championship event that brings entrepreneurial teams from around the world to UC Berkeley each year.
At the 2009 Intel Global Challenge, Rusev and his teammates presented the classroom mouse idea and a business plan to experienced entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. The feedback he received convinced Rusev that his dream could become a reality. "The experience of attending the Intel Global Challenge was amazing—seeing how other people were looking at global problems and trying to change the world, and how at the same time they were thinking about building businesses. It was very inspiring," he says.
After the Intel Global Challenge, Rusev returned to Bulgaria and founded a company called Nimero. Its software, Envision*, allows students to use mice to respond to prompts from a single computer. Cursors from the mice appear on a classroom projector screen as students select their responses. All students have the opportunity to participate—not just the kids who always raise their hands. Students receive immediate feedback on the accuracy of their answers, instead of waiting for worksheets to be individually corrected. What’s more, teachers can see right away if students have grasped a concept or need more review.
Additionally, the software can be used to ask open-ended questions, create data tables, access educational videos, and deliver quizzes or tests.
Today, Nimero is used in more than 200 schools, reaching 25,000 students, from Bulgaria to the U.S., and Rusev has become a schoolhouse hero. When students see him coming, they rally around the guy they call "the man with the mice."
The Intel Global Challenge is a business plan competition dedicated to finding new ideas from students around the globe who just might change the world.
As an entrepreneur, Rusev believes that “Nothing matters more than real innovation… When I see those kids’ faces, I know I’ve made a difference.”