Education  October 18, 2018

Niwot’s Indigo Education makes its personality assessment more accessible

NIWOT — Indigo Education Co. is an education-tech company that provides comprehensive surveys about the skills and traits of students to help them better understand themselves.

The Boulder-based company, founded in 2013, is now automating the interpretations of its survey results using artificial intelligence. It’s also developed online courses students can take — typically when they’re college freshmen — that teaches young students how to know themselves, know where they’re going and know how to get to that goal.

Chris Kalish, the company’s new chief technology officer, has been working on these developments to help Indigo be more accessible to more students.

“A core area of what we’re working on in 2018 is automating the interpretations of our survey results,” Kalish told BizWest. “If you think about the perfect cup of coffee, there’s a barista out there who makes it that has steps they take and measurements they use. If you could reproduce that 10,000 times over, you’d have a very successful coffee company. The thing we noticed is students take the personality assessment, but the work comes from interpretation.”

Indigo’s surveys measure on 40 different personality dimensions and creates four different scores, using DISC — dominance, influencing, steadiness and compliance. It also looks at motivators, soft skills that drive toward success and social-emotional characteristics. The 45-minute survey is designed to calibrate itself in a way to ensure that it’s being answered with integrity and the report that comes out can tell a person how they interact with others, what motivates them, the core skills they have, how they handle social and emotional learning.

But the challenge can be taking the survey answers and turning them into that report, which is where the artificial intelligence comes in.

“What we did with our rules engine is look at the attributes of the survey based on how each individual scored on the dimensions and interprets them automatically,” Kalish said. “If a student takes this assessment, it gives them information about what drives this student. It also gives key questions a guidance counselor or teacher should ask them to follow up.”

Another development Kalish has been working on is the online course for college freshmen. Many universities require some sort of freshman experience course, Kalish said, and the one Indigo has developed caters itself to the student, helping them determine what major they might want to choose, what sort of activities or professional groups they should join. The self-directed, 15 module course is designed to help the student know themselves and what path they should take to reach their goals. The online course is in its early stages of testing, Kalish said.  

The company is working on additional initiatives, such as an analytics engine a school can use to compare statistical differences between its students who have taken the Indigo assessment and other schools. It’s also working on a tool that can divide people who have taken the test into optimal teams for group work.

Across 18 states, there are 147 schools using the Indigo assessment, 43 of which are in Colorado. The company has 13 employees, with 7 of them working out of its Niwot headquarters.

More than 73,000 people have used the survey assessment so far.  



Ken Amundson

Managing Editor

Ken Amundson
Ken Amundson is managing editor of BizWest. He has lived in Loveland and reported on issues in the region since 1987. Prior to Colorado, he reported and edited for news organizations in Minnesota and Iowa. He's a parent of two and grandparent of four, all of whom make their homes on the Front Range. A news junkie at heart, he also enjoys competitive sports, especially the Rapids.

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