Courtney Williams is the Chief Executive Officer of Torsh Inc., a New Orleans based education technology startup that seeks to harness the power of video, actionable data, and expert coaching to promote high-quality growth opportunities for educators, accessible at any time and from anywhere. Torsh’s signature product, TORSH Talent, is an online professional learning and data analytics platform that enables an organization to support the entire professional development lifecycle, including observation, assessment, goal-setting, feedback, and coaching. TORSH Talent is distributed in more than 2,000 schools in 30 states and 5 countries worldwide. Williams is a seasoned business executive with more than 20 years of experience in management, operations, business development, and law. He has a JD from Columbia Law School and a BA in Politics from Oberlin College.
How did your education and previous professional experience shape your current work at Torsh?
The idea for TORSH is based on my experiences as a college athlete and a senior executive at a number of technology companies. Reviewing game tape was an invaluable way to study my performance on the field, make necessary adjustments, and ultimately improve my game. As an executive, I always had a set of KPIs that allowed us to understand what was going on with our businesses on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. So the idea was to create a software solution that allowed teachers to easily reflect on their classroom practice, identify whether or not their students were learning, and then quickly create interventions for students to ensure that those who were not learning were getting the help they needed.
What has been the response to Torsh from educators who use the platform?
Since launching in 2012, we've established a strong position in the professional development space by delivering a superior, differentiated product at a competitive price. TORSH has garnered tremendous positive feedback from clients and typically receives accolades for its ease of use, intuitive user interface, robust feature set, and technological innovations. We are delighted that our users love our product and we are committed to continuously improving the platform so that we maintain our position as the premier online professional learning platform for educators.
What broad trends do you think will have the most impact on learning in the years ahead?
As a technology executive, I'll limit my response to some of the technological trends I’ve observed, even though there are broad cultural trends that are occurring that I think will have a huge impact on the way we learn in the future. Two of the largest trends that I think will change the way adults and children learn in the future are online course distribution and the proliferation of mobile smart devices. Online course distribution is not new, but it has become increasingly more sophisticated. Almost all colleges and universities distribute some or all of their coursework online. This allows for a broader range of learners to access information on their own time and from anywhere. Second, we now live in a world that is increasingly becoming a mobile-first environment. While we are not there yet, each year a significantly larger portion of e-commerce transactions take place on mobile devices.
A majority of social media interactions occur exclusively on mobile devices, and increasingly we're seeing educational institutions create content and experiences that utilize the unique attributes of mobile devices. At the K-12 level, developers are designing applications that allow students to leave their classrooms and interact with the real world around them via an augmented reality overlay on their mobile devices. Experiences like these just barely scratch the surface of what is possible in using technology to improve the learning experience and I'm excited to see where they go.
What, if any, are future plans for Torsh?
We like to think of ourselves as a highly customer-centric organization. As such, we tend to follow where our customers lead us and this has served us well over the last seven years. Our goal is to continue to respond to the needs of our customers by building the experiences and features they request. Stay tuned as we will be launching a new product soon that we are anxious to share with the world.
Who are the most interesting people you are following on Twitter?
Some of the most interesting people we follow on Twitter also happen to be our customers and partners. We follow Building Excellent Schools, Eva Moskowitz from Success Academy and Andrea Parks Lagard from Uplift Education.
Image: Courtesy Courtney Williams