Episode 051: John Danner, Co-Founder and CEO of Zeal.com

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In this episode of MEP, John Danner, co-founder and CEO of Zeal.com, joins us to talk about his story, going from the software industry, and becoming a teacher and making a positive impact in the education space.

Guest Bio

John DannerJohn is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Zeal, a software startup pioneering the next generation of online social learning. John’s first partner in this venture is Rocketship Education, where John was co-Founder and CEO for the previous eight years. Rocketship is the highest performing school system for low-income students in California and the first blended school system in the country, currently serving 3700 students.

John was a fifth and second grade public school teacher before starting Rocketship. John’s first startup was NetGravity, the first Internet ad server company, where he was co-Founder and CEO. John took NetGravity public in 1998 and sold the company in 1999.

John has a BS and MS Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and a M.Ed. in Education Policy from Vanderbilt University and is an Ashoka Fellow. John is a 1999 Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. He was the 2010 winner of the John P. McNulty Prize.

Show Notes

(01:35) John’s background

(11:50) That process going through the Department of Education. Tell me about that process for you in getting the first 1,2,3 schools of Rocketship through the California state system.

(14:58) What do you think is the future of public education? What can public schooling look like in the next 5, 10, 20 years?

(15:41) Public education has to come to grips with the fact that all children are online.

(17:52) Learning what you need to learn individually at the right time for you is much, much more effective than learning what you kind of approximately should at your age.

(21:17) With Zeal, for some reason I just started to think about the potential of Zeal and what internationally what Sugata Mitra was talking about The Hole in the Wall and self-organized learning environment. Do you see potential in what you’re doing now with Zeal in moving that sort of student-centric approach forward?

(23:34) What’s the number one book that you usually give as a gift to people you care about- friends, family?

Talent is Overrated

(25:15) So when did you feel that you found your passion? At what age?

(25:51) What’s your favorite documentary?

Waiting For Superman

26:52 If you could have dinner with one person you admire, past or present, who would it be and why?

A great, great, great grandfather who was one of the pioneers of Wyoming




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