FREDERICTON– The Learning Bar, the New Brunswick research-based education company, is continuing to grow its footprint worldwide.
The company is led by an internationally renowned researcher, Dr. J. Douglas Willms. The company provides schools with tools and solutions designed to inform educators, guide school planning and give a voice to students, parents and teachers.
As of this year, approximately 7 million students across 6,300 schools worldwide are using The Learning Bar’s technology. The company’s two biggest clients are Canada and Australia where The Learning Bar is used in 2,500 and 1,600 schools respectively. But Willms says the company is not stopping there. The company now has its sights on the United States.
“That’s a big one,” says Willms. “It requires a different kind of marketing strategy than what we would have in Canada. They have a lot of very small school districts and the big school districts have their own assessment tools and so on. ”
The Learning Bar offers several solution-focused systems. The most popular ones are the OurSCHOOL|TTFM (Tell Them From Me) school improvement system and the Early Years Evaluation (EYE).
OurSCHOOL|TTFM aims to provide a complete solution for measuring, assessing, and reporting insights for schools. These insights are based on measures that are known to affect learning outcomes. This system has become the largest national school survey in Canada. The Early Years Evaluation is an assessment framework that helps children, parents and schools with the transition from home to school.
The Learning Bar is also bringing business further south, recently winning a contract in Latin America. They are also looking to bring their products into Africa as well. Though some countries in these regions present some political and social challenges, it’s something Willms says he embraces.
“Working in the lower, middle-income countries has its challenges in some cases … but we also find it very exciting. I’ve visited over 70 countries over the last 20 years and whenever I go I try to get out and see some schools and some classrooms,” he says. “It’s always exciting to see the potential of having really good quality instruction, having inclusive environments in these schools. That’s where the excitement comes for me.”
Though expanding globally is exciting, Willms says there’s still lots of room for the company to grow at home too.
“We’re province-wide in a few provinces, but in a number of provinces we have various school districts using our tools and we’d like to continue expanding within Canada as well,” he says.
The Learning Bar’s impressive growth over the past several years hasn’t gone unnoticed at home either. The company recently won the Large Business Award at the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce’s Business Excellence Awards. For Willms, the win came as a surprise.
“I was totally taken off guard. I’m very excited of course and proud. It really reflects the strength of our staff at The Learning Bar,” he says. “We have a staff of about 60 people and the staff really embrace our vision statement, which is ‘giving all children the opportunity to thrive.’ “