ADSB Graduate creates a tool which helps replace jargon with everyday language

Melissa Kargiannakis (left) and Mary Maurice (right) outline how “skritswap” is helping to simplify financial literacy for ADSB students. photo courtesy ADSB

Melissa Kargiannakis is an ADSB graduate and the Founder & CEO of skritswap, a company designed to make the internet easier to understand. skritswap uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to“enable anyone to understand anything regardless of complexity.It changes the reading level of information.”

Put another way, where”Google Translate” changes text to different languages, skritswap adjusts information to different reading levels. Algoma District School Board welcomed Melissa Kargiannakis to the Committee of the Whole meeting on November 13th to share some of what she is doing with ADSB students. She was joined by Mary Maurice who teachers Civics, Careers and History at Korah Collegiate.

skritswap can and has been used in a variety of disciplines: Medical Sciences (helping to explain the language of health professionals to lay people, especially as it pertains to diagnosis, medications); Banking (helping users understand accounts and mortgages); Legal Documents (helping users understand contracts, Wills, pre-nuptial agreements, home and car insurance; Government Legislation (helping users understand laws and policies); and Websites/Apps (helping users understand Privacy Policies & Terms of Use).

ADSB saw an opportunity to partner with Melissa as they looked at their Career Studies course, specifically the recently added financial literacy pillar. Melissa is working with ADSB Grade 10 Careers teachers to help make the Careers and financial literacy content accessible to ADSB students, by simplifying the language.

In November 2016, then Minister of Education Mitzi Hunter stated that financial literacy
would become a mandatory part of the Career Studies curriculum. Through extensive engagement sessions across the province on the future of the Career Studies and Civics and Citizenship courses, student voice clearly indicated they wanted to gain more knowledge and develop skills in areas such as Financial Literacy. For students, this meant gaining better understanding of basic banking tasks like opening an account and paying bills, saving, mortgages, taxes and buying a car.

ADSB Grade 10cstudents have engaged in a pilot project which will help them build their understanding around financial literacy. Mrs. Maurice explained that this year, her Careers students are looking at a variety of “financial” scenarios, everything from credit card usage, hourly wages and pay cheque deductions, to student loans and the simple but important difference between a loan and a grant.

Melissa’s skritswap application has helped to simplify the language so students are better able to understand these sometimes complex concepts. The Careers Studies curriculum is a course requirement for graduation,so all grade 10 Careers students will have exposure to the financial literacy component.

Melissa has enjoyed international recognition and yet has never forgotten where she
comes from. ADSB Director Reece thanked Melissa for finding ways to give back to her hometown community.

Melissa was one of only four founders worldwide selected to participate in the Women’s startup Lab in Silicon Valley in 2016 and she is now a Silicon Valley Venture-Capital backed startup.

Melissa and her company have received numerous awards in California and Canada including the Most Innovative Company in Canada and she was one of only three Canadians and 60 recipients worldwide to receive the Queen’s Young Leaders Award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2015.

Melissa has a Masters of Health Information Science and Honours of Health Science from the University of Western Ontario.

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