Higher Learning Technologies helps test-takers ace the exam

Higher Learning Technologies 2

Higher Learning Technologies (HLT) is helping healthcare students learn efficiently and is providing practitioners a platform to master clinical competence.

The company is based in Coralville, Iowa, and was founded in 2012. The company provides a mobile and online learning tool for exam preparation and quick and easy clinical reference.  The platform offers engaging study tools designed to appeal to busy learners. Interactive learning solutions such as practice questions, immediate feedback with explanations, and customized study plans provide users customizable study options best suited for their personal learning styles.

Company co-founders are Alec Whitters, CEO, Adam Keune, Chief People Officer, and Benjamin O’Connor, CFO. The HLT story begins while Alec was in dental school at the University of Iowa preparing for his licensure exam. He was studying a stack of 1,400 commercially created paper flashcards but found it tedious and ineffective. Smartphones were becoming widely available, so he called the flash card company and asked for a digital version. The company was not on-board with his idea, calling it ‘stupid’ and suggesting that phones are for games, so he decided it would be up to him to create his own study solutions.

Meanwhile, Ben was working on a doctorate in nursing at the University of Iowa, looking ahead to the licensure exam, the NCLEX. Adam was employed in online marketing and sales. The three long-time friends commiserated over the antiquated means available for exam prep, and pooled money to outsource development of a basic mobile study app.

They found quick traction among students adopting digital study tools. Given their early success, they agreed they needed to decide whether they wanted to pursue a hobby or a real business; they concluded it was time to go all in. The next day Alec dropped out of dental school, Ben dropped out of his nursing program, and Adam resigned from his job.

“HLT’s app for the nursing licensure exam, NCLEX Mastery, was the top grossing education app on the App Store and Google Play in 2015,” recalled Adam. The team completed three rounds of funding, raising roughly $17 million. The company scaled sales and grew its team to 50; the company is located in the University of Iowa Research Park, a collaborative tech community situated near the University of Iowa campus.
“Coralville is a natural fit for our company because we partner so closely with the University of Iowa, which has world-renowned nursing and dental programs.”

Though the company’s educational platform was created primarily for mastery of the health sciences, HLT offers tools for test preparation in other disciplines as well; HLT boasts the best-selling study and test prep apps in real estate and the military, according to Keune. HLT partners with large educational publishers such as McGraw-Hill, Wiley, and Springer to incorporate content in its learning platform.  Since founding the company in 2012, here is a collection of interesting and impressive HLT stats:

● 1 Billion practice items answered
● 10,000,000 total downloads
● HLT products are downloaded by over 90% of graduating nurses and dentists in the US
● 50% Year over Year revenue growth from 2018 to 2019
● Entrepreneur Magazine ranked HLT as one of the top places to work in the US in both 2017 and 2018
● HLT acquired one of their largest competitors in 2017
● Through their partnership with the University of Iowa, all of HLT’s products are provided for free to University of Iowa students. To date, this has accounted for over a quarter million dollars of free educational software for Iowa students.

“Use of our prep tools results in 99% pass rate for nursing and dental licensure exams, and we’re so confident in our products that we offer 300% money back if a user doesn’t pass the exam,” said Adam.

He cited cases in which discouraged students who’ve been unable to pass using other study methods have found success passing the exam using HLT tools.

“Our product easy to use, and curate high quality content with great engagement from users. We’ve had people call us in tears, overjoyed because they were finally able to pass their exam by preparing with our app. We continue to grow in popularity and are proud to be training the next generation of professionals,” said Adam.

The HLT digital learning team includes practitioners such as licensed nurses who develop the app’s content and ensure accuracy.

“We have multiple nurses on staff whose sole focus it is to understand and stay current on all updates from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN),” said Adam.

The app provides a seamless feedback loop for users so they can track their progress and test their retention. The content is adequately challenging to give students a true gauge of their comprehension and mastery of the material. HLT’s app can be used for life-long learning, and Adam noted that practitioners often use the tool for license renewal refreshers and reference.

“Our data indicates that more people are downloading the app than are actually taking licensure exams. We encourage use of our tool from school all the way through retirement in order to stay fresh and current in your clinical skills.”

HLT continues to iterate on the product, and in 2017 the company acquired mobile learning platform gWhiz to enhance its features and expand it’s reach across the mobile learning industry.  Keune added that HLT is hiring. The company is seeking candidates with a passion for education in nursing and dentistry who may be looking to go a non-traditional route with their skillset.

Roughly 75% of the team is located in Coralville, including software engineers, designers, marketers, project managers and subject matter experts. Adam highlighted the company’s nationally recognized culture and work environment that fosters relationship-building and collaboration.

“We’re looking for rock stars who are driven and smart,” said Keune.

Visit www.builtbyhlt.com to learn more about this company.


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