E21: Reintroducing the Spark of Meaningful Class Discussions with Bobby McDonald of Parlay.

Speaker Bio:

Bobby McDonald is born and raised in Stouffville, Ontario. He spent four years studying at McGill University, worked in finance and software sales before starting Parlay full time in early 2017.

Episode Overview:

Parlay is an education technology tool with a simple goal. It is to reintroduce discussions into the classroom in a modern 21st century way. This helps teachers encourage students to have meaningful, measurable and inclusive discussions.

Parlay was conceptualized when Bobby and a close friend were looking around. Bobby was studying business, his friend was studying politics, and they ask themselves why we are not having conversations about the events and ideas that are shaping our world in the world of business and politics. It’s not like they were studying theoretical physics or anything. These were things that had real tangible, real-world consequences and real-world events and ideas that they could draw upon and there was none of that in the classroom and the existing discussions that did happen in the classroom were on old cumbersome discussion thread style forums that the students were not engaging and none of them really enjoyed it.

So, there was a clear lack of discussion in the classroom and there’s a lack of connectivity to the real world. There’s a lot of students who ask themselves, why am I learning this? And they had been doing that pretty much throughout all our education. So, from those two simple and common problems. The original idea for parlay was born. It’s taken many different twists and turns.

Bobby also talks about the Increasing polarization and Increase in technology specifically social media which makes everyone more isolated which is termed, Eco chamber.

The government would be wise to create a program that connects aspiring and tech entrepreneurs with teachers, students, and classroom. Sit those two together to investigate their ideas. Canada can be a huge hotbed for educational technology.

Teaching the young generation to actively seek out different opinions can make them be thoughtful and humble contributors to our society.

What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Teaching the young generation to actively seek out different opinions can make them be thoughtful and humble contributors to our society.
  • How his habit of no electronics past 10 pm has helped him focus. He doesn’t want to be stuck on the screen before bed.
  • Find a way to inexpensively have as many people as possible experience what your product will do before you ever spend money on the line of code.
  • At some point, you’re just going to have to pull the trigger. It’s never going to be comfortable but follow your gut.
  • Follow your gut, pull the trigger and never look back.
  • Start interviewing your customers or potential customers
  • Don’t spend money until you absolutely have to.
  • If you can meet with triumph and disaster, treat those impostors just the same
  • Confidence is important, but honesty goes a long long way.
  • Never underestimate the power of honesty.
  • Doing some mockups, some hi-fidelity mockup walkthroughs to start your business.

Resources Mentioned:

Wireframing Tool: Balsamiq

Customer Messaging Tool: Intercom

Entrepreneurship Programs: OCE Smart Start Program

This is Water Commencement Speech – Kenyon College Class of 2005 by David Foster Wallace

Poem: If by victorian stoic poet named Rudyard Kipling

Startup Launch Program –  Founders Institute

Startup Community: DMZ Startup Community

Hotspot: City of Montreal

Twitter: @parlayideas

Facebook: @parlayideas

Email: [email protected]

Company Overview:

Parlay is for any teacher that wants students to engage in substantive conversations. Typically, this starts in Middle School and continues right through to the end one’s education. Sometimes Literature teachers use Parlay RoundTables to discuss books. Sometimes Science teachers use Parlay to discuss the morality of gene augmentation. Sometimes Politics teachers use Parlay to host mock debates. Sometimes History teachers use Parlay to peer review theses. Wherever students can learn through discussion, Parlay can be found.





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