Living in Jackson

CrossBraining: Remote Learning for a New Age

September 23, 2020

A new word. A new idea. A new business has erupted in Jackson.

Josh Nichols, Jackson native and veteran educator of Stockbridge Schools, has conceived, and developed a video-based skill and knowledge testing platform that allows students to capture their learning progress through storytelling.

Tested in area schools, students revealed the depth of their understanding by tracking their learning progress on video. Students recorded, narrated, and reflected on their own progress while teachers assured their proficiency.

This distance learning tool allows students to complete assignments onsite or remotely, anytime, anywhere they have internet access. The app allows instructors to prep new courses, check student's progress and assess student's final videos from anywhere, whenever their time allows.

Josh Nichols is the son of former Jackson school teacher, Sandy Sparks Nichols, and Jackson attorney, Bill Nichols. Josh comes from a family that responds to great needs in the crisis. His great grandfather, Harry Sparks, kept people working during the Great Depression by initiating the shared-job four-day workweek. Harry ‘Cap' Sparks put our city on the map by conceiving, funding and building the Cascades waterfall and park, now known as the Matilda and Harry Sparks County Park.

‘Cap' Sparks would be proud of Josh Nichols. And so are we at the Commercial Exchange, building five of the one-time Sparks Withington manufacturing empire. This building was magnificently retrofitted during the 1930s to keep people working. The results of those craftsmen and women plus all that ‘Cap' accomplished here is why the building was nominated and is now listed with the U.S. Department of Interior's National Park Service as a National Historic Site.

But, that's not all. Cap Sparks' great-grandson's company, CrossBraining was awarded the SmartZone Small Business Award in 2020 by Michigan Celebrates Small Business.