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Inspiration, Gratitude, Affirmation and Excitement: Ascend Shares Thought Leadership in EdTech at 2021 ASU-GSV Summit

August 18, 2021

Inspiration, gratitude, affirmation and excitement for the future — these are the takeaways for the five leaders from Ascend Learning who contributed their thought leadership as panelists and moderators at the 2021 ASU-GSV Summit, Aug. 9-11 in San Diego.

Now in its 12th year, the annual event — a partnership between Arizona State University and Global Silicon Valley — connects leading minds focused on transforming society and business around learning and work.

Speaking on topics ranging from the state of medical EdTech and the student mental health crisis to AR/VR, simulations training and the “Pre-K to Gray” journey, leaders from Ascend were thrilled to reconnect with the global community of leaders driving positive change in education.


Ada Woo, chief of staff and senior director in Ascend’s assessment sciences unit, joined a panel of leading minds to explore how AI is currently incorporated into learning platforms, and potential for the technology in the future.

“It was inspiring to be among EdTech innovators who care deeply about improving learning outcomes,” Ada said. “I am especially excited about our work in education technology and Ascend leading the way in workforce education.”

Deb Serri, vice president of simulation at Ascend, also came away with renewed inspiration from a panel that explored the intersection of AR, VR, and simulations with on-the-job learning. She said she looks forward to sharing that inspiration with her teams, which develop simulations for multiple Ascend brands including Kognito, ATI Nursing Education, National Healthcareer Association, Public Safety Group, National Academy of Sports Medicine, and Jones & Bartlett Learning.

“ASU-GSV was a great learning opportunity, and I am inspired by the exceptional talent present in the EdTech space,” Deb said. “I’m looking forward to bringing that inspiration back to Ascend.”


Moderating a panel with two physicians, an associate dean of a medical school, and two founders of some of the most advanced simulation companies in medical education is a welcome challenge for any professional in the EdTech space.

Jeff Jones, Ascend’s senior vice president of strategy and corporate development, appreciated the opportunity to gain new perspectives from such a group while moderating the discussion, “The State of Medical EdTech.”

“We explored a number of issues and opportunities in medical education with an emphasis on producing caring clinicians focused on producing the best outcomes for patients,” Jeff said. “I am truly grateful for their time and the expertise they shared with me and the audience at ASU-GSV Summit.”


As manager of strategic initiatives and partnerships (HigherEd) at Ascend’s Kognito, Darren Jones, Ed.D., understands the evolving role of technology in meeting the social, emotional and academic needs of college and university students. As a panelist at the summit, Jones came away confident in Ascend and Kognito’s leadership in the mental health tech space, and its role in helping faculty and staff to provide aid to students as they return to campuses this fall amidst the ongoing challenges created by the pandemic.

“I left the conference feeling affirmed in the work we do at Kognito,” Darren said. “We are pushing the envelope while meeting people where they are, so that we empower others to contribute to safe and supportive environments.”


With more than three decades of experience as a leader at mission-driven businesses in healthcare and education services, Ascend CEO Greg Sebasky has seen how technology has driven lifelong learning prior to COVID. Greg was one of several EdTech CEOs in a panel exploring the role of EdTech in the future.

“My opportunity to participate in a panel with leaders from K-12, Higher Education, and Corporate Learning was a privilege,” Greg said. “We are committing ourselves to work together to accelerate the learning pathways that can move people into careers of their choice, where they have the knowledge and skills to have an impact in their communities. Very exciting!”

Ascend has sponsored the ASU-GSV Summit for three years, and our team members have been attending the event since 2015, gaining knowledge, expanding our network and bringing back fresh perspectives to Ascend. We are proud to sponsor events where we can make a collective impact in the EdTech world and further our mission to change lives through education. A special thanks to all our leaders for speaking on behalf of Ascend at this key industry event!



Video and photo highlights from the 2021 ASU-GSV Summit are available on the GSV YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/GlobalSiliconValley. Direct links to the panels featuring Ascend Learning leaders are below.