Innovation: MIDAS – Massively Integrated Data Analytics System
As a student at Wauwatosa West High School, Megan Harney was counted among the most advanced, always a grade level ahead.
She was lucky, she said, as she grasped concepts at the pace her classes set for her.
It wasn’t until Harney enrolled in organic chemistry while studying at Harvard University that she struggled to master content in the timeframe her instructors demanded of her.
Through her experiences in education – as a student, as the daughter of a teacher and as a teacher herself – Harney has become a firm believer in the need for individualized instruction so students can wade through lessons at the pace that best suits them.
With individualized instruction top of mind, Harney has developed MIDAS – the Massively Integrated Data Analytics System. The software system acts as a central platform to house data and store information related to myriad school and classroom topics, from district and student information management to compliance reporting to assessment builders, unit planning, master scheduling and course enrollment.
School districts often use between eight and 15 – or more – different systems to document and store critical information, according to Harney.
MIDAS, set within Wauwatosa-based MIDAS Education, pulls the varying systems into one to streamline data management and compliance for teachers and administrators and frees up more of their time to tend to students.
Schools have to take many steps to comply with state and federal mandates, such as tracking student attendance, keeping a record of grades, and counting the number of students who qualify for free and reduced school lunch.
By managing those requirements in a central location, rather than using concurrent systems, districts can reduce redundancies, expedite the processes behind mundane tasks, and grant teachers more time to allocate to individualizing instruction, according to Harney, founder and chief executive officer of MIDAS Education.
MIDAS, which Harney has been piecing together over the past 10 years, is API (Application Programming Interface) driven, with more than 300 widgets, each like an application on a smartphone, Harney said. Schools using the platform can select the widgets they want to use.
Harney, who was an English major and computer science minor, incorporated MIDAS Education in 2007, relying on herself and offshore developers to write the code for the platform.
Along with her personal academic successes and struggles, her idea for MIDAS was influenced by her experiences as a teacher working with challenged students.
While conducting summer SAT and ACT preparation courses during her undergraduate career, Harney was dismayed to encounter students who wouldn’t complete their homework. Harney, who had never failed to do her homework, set out to find a fix. She began building online systems for homework submission, grading, analytics on student performance and more – the early iteration of MIDAS.
Having been the kid who got it and the kid who didn’t get it herself, and having experienced teaching kids across the academic spectrum, gave her insight on effective approaches to education,
“Seeing it from all of those different angles helped me see how education should work,” she said.
After a decade of developing new features and gleaning input from thousands in technology and education, Harney said the company is close to wrapping everything she could think of into the platform.
MIDAS Education, which now has three full-time staff members, plans to add two more full-time employees in the next month and chart a steeper hiring path in the future.
The company currently has five clients and two pilot clients across the country and, by next August, anticipates having 100,000 students.
Harney’s ultimate goals rest on becoming a household name and helping drive stronger student performance.
“The reason for the company to exist is teaching and learning and helping students do better,” Harney said.