May 29, 2024
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Camarillo firm cracks learning code



One small Camarillo-based company may have the power to improve the national economy, employee performance and lower high school drop-out rates.

BrainX, which started in 2000, created an online system based on neuroscientific studies to teach people exactly what, when and how they need to learn material.

“That’s what we’ve cracked the code on: how to not only get learners to understand information – which of course they are going to quickly forget – but how to lock it into long-term memory in such a way that they will remember it and be able to effectively use the information,” said Bruce Lewolt, chief executive officer of BrainX.

The BrainX system has been particularly successful preparing English language learners to pass the California High School Exit Exam. When San Diego County’s schools tried the BrainX system for English learners, 89 percent passed, versus 29 percent for those who used traditional methods. Lewolt said the number of dropouts has increased by more than 10,000 students per year since the CAHSEE was introduced, creating a drain on the economy.

“By getting them to pass it like they did, we increase the odds of them graduating from high school fourfold,” Lewolt said.

The BrainX system was based on research done by neuroscientists at MIT, the Boston Brain Institute, Harvard, the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles. The system assesses learners on how and when they learn best and teaches them in short sessions multiple times a week.

Using interactive methods, voice recognition, video and reading material, BrainX can reinforce material so strongly that after two weeks, recall is higher than the day the student learned it, Lewolt said.
BrainX currently has contracts with about 40 schools for students to use the system, which costs just $89 per student – “very cheap for the problems that it solves,” Lewolt said. The company even offers a money-back guarantee that every student will pass the exam.

BrainX also works with companies who need to train sales representatives on products and sales methods. One of its clients, Chicago-based LaSalle Bank, conducted a test with BrainX versus traditional classroom sales training and found “dramatic” improvements among the BrainX group, Lewolt said.

While the regular group had no increase in sales over six months, the BrainX group had a 300 percent sales increase.

“People need to know about the products they’re selling, but they also have to understand the market they’re selling to,” Lewolt said, which includes how to listen well and deal with different personality types.

Los Angeles-based Crystal Cruises uses BrainX to train its safety crews so that in emergencies, the information is so reinforced that what to do comes naturally.

BrainX is poised to eventually break into the SAT market, which could bring in big revenue for the Camarillo company and help college-bound students nationwide. The company, which pulled in just under $1 million in 2007 revenue, is also looking into preparing students for various medical testing, including nurses exams.

“And of course, it’s not enough to have it; you’ve got to do a lot of good marketing,” Lewolt said, referring to other test preparation companies such as Kaplan and Princeton Review.
He said the BrainX method is particularly helpful for English learners because it reinforces information in both English and Spanish.

The program first teaches them the concepts in Spanish and then immediately teaches the exact same lesson in English. “Being bilingual is a huge learning advantage that we often ignore,” Lewolt said.

“Students who hear the same lesson presented in both languages absorb the material faster and do better on tests – but only if those lessons are personalized to exactly what each student needs to learn.”

Before BrainX, Lewolt said, no one had been able to figure out how to make “really substantial improvements” in learning, especially for struggling students. The results, he said, have been detrimental to the economy.

“I’ve always been passionate about helping people reach their full learning potential,” Lewolt said. “As a country, our biggest economic asset is the brainpower of our citizens. To continue to compete in the global economy, we have to find a way to keep more students in high school and help more students earn four-year college degrees.”