Growing up in China, Ji always felt so many things in the educational system were antiquated. He dreamt of retiring one day to become a teacher himself, so he could help change things for the better. That said, it was the rapid, thrilling innovations in internet, multimedia and social networking technologies that fascinated him.
The more he thought about the intersection of tech and education, the more opportunities he saw for helping educators create a learning management system, where technology enabled greater teacher / student engagement, higher academic performance, and joy in learning.
Ji founded iClassmate Learning Systems to develop these education innovations, and began a multi-year commute between Shanghai and San Diego building the company.
His most successful ideas came from observing challenges in the classroom. For example, an average exam at an average Chinese school necessitated scanning over 120,000 sheets of paper to effectively grade and log results.
At the time, big, heavy, expensive document cameras were doing the job.
Ji launched the HoverCam, an all-in-one document imaging device integrating video presentation, scanning, video recording and distance learning connectivity in one compact, lightweight, easy to use tool. HoverCam’s price performance ratio was unprecedented in the document camera world.
HoverCam went on to sell hundreds of thousands of units. It also became a core component of Ji’s Pilot teaching stations, podiums that integrated essential classroom technology into one convenient,mobile, wireless teaching station.
In 2020, COVID struck the world. At the same time, Ji attended his fateful online class with Dr. Matt Anderson, an early innovator in lightboard technology. The stage was set for Ji’s next edtech innovation.
Dr. Matt Anderson is a professor of physics at San Diego State University. Anderson developed a transparent glass writing surface that could be lit and filmed to create a startlingly dramatic effect. Anderson used this innovation, initially dubbed Learning Glass, to captivate his international audience of online, hybrid and classroom learners.
Ji Shen attended one of Anderson’s online classes called EM Waves, and was instantly hooked on Anderson’s writing glass. In his words, the lecture felt like it raced by.
A successful innovator and entrepreneur, Shen saw an opportunity to integrate Anderson’s Learning Glass with advanced digital imaging technologies he had developed for his HoverCam products over the past decade. The goal was to create a transparent lightboard and software system that was accessible and affordable to millions of educators.
Built on this vision, Matt and Ji forged a partnership and got to work. Today, 9 patents later, eGlass has launched.
eGlass is more than a tool. It’s a new medium for communicating. For the first time, students can visually engage with their teacher while the teacher is writing on the board. Body gestures, eye contact, and subtle emotional cues are transmitted from teacher to student. Regardless if the student is distance learning on a screen, or in an auditorium with 200 other learners, the connection and engagement are immediate, and powerful.
Launched during the COVID pandemic, eGlass has gone on to acclaimed success in school systems embracing the new hybrid model of teaching, using 100% classroom teaching, or doing all teaching online. It’s the evolution of the teaching model, and changes lives every day.