SocialMap: Reality Mining for Collaborative Learning

Ragnar Behncke, Founder and CEO
The yearning to be an agent of change oftentimes means going out of the well-trodden path and creating something incredible. That’s precisely what Ragnar Behncke achieved by founding SocialMap, a firm that has transformed the education space by developing a new methodology to analyze social networks in collaborative learning contexts and workplaces. In the modern era, schools are increasingly adopting digital solutions to foster student engagement, collaborative learning and global reach with people from different continents, nationality and language. “We have applicability to the technology that is based on social networks and human behavior dynamics on leadership, power and interaction, collaboration, and active learning in the educational sector and workplace,” says Chandhu Nair, Co-Founder and Chairman, SocialMap. SocialMap’s proprietary Social Behavior Intelligence Platform employs cutting-edge techniques such as computer vision and reality mining to improve the curriculum and workplace in a scientific way through real-time feedback from the classroom and corporate training sessions rather than by intuition.

“At the core, what really differentiates SocialMap is that we analyze the collective data to decipher KPIs in terms of participation, leadership, and also the individual participation of the groups within an organization,” says Pedro Melgarejo, CTO, SocialMap. In essence, this model of analyzing social behaviors originated when Behncke was deeply involved in his collaboration with Primatology research of her sister, Isabel Behncke, at the Oxford University. He worked in the jungles of Brazil and Congo to understand and collect data regarding the social network behavior of the Chimpanzee Bonobo and used that data for social network analysis. Three structures were compiled to describe their behavior while traveling, playing, and grooming. On returning back to the Center for Advanced Research in Education (CIAE) of the University of Chile, he extrapolated the social behavior methodology used in Primatology into the collaborative learning context of students.

In the first pilot phase of the project, Behncke developed an instrument to analyze the structure and dynamics of social interactions between the students and the teacher or amongst the students that occur within the room during the learning process.
Students wear this instrument—lenses equipped with a camera—which is capable of recording images and audio.

As a sequel to the story, Behncke collected immeasurable video-based information on every student; 300 hours of video is impossible for an individual to analyze. To this end, the team developed unique software that applies two main techniques— gaze tracking and reality mining—to automatically retrieve the student engagement metrics.

The instrument quickly captures and records the student’s gaze attention, correlated with their understanding of the learning material, which in turn can be used to tailor a more appropriate and personalized teaching methodology. It also records a student’s interactions with his peers, which has a direct effect on student learning.

On September of 2016 Ragnar jump to the entrepreneurship world to found Socialmap in Boston with two co-founders: Chandhu Nair and Pedro Melgarejo. An R&D lab is also setup based in Santiago, Chile. Currently Socialmap instrument is able to analyze student’s social behavior provides real-time insights into their collective engagement in learning, also this applicable for team meetings in workplace and other contexts.

Recently, the firm participated in the 2017 CPS Faculty Development Conference of North-eastern University for the professional education group and showcased their capability of real-time engagement tracking at the conference. By leveraging social behavior intelligence, faculties were able to actively participate, network with their colleagues, and share social engagement feedback to improve the learning participation. The firm is also worked with “The Difference Consultancy” an international organizational facilitation firm that set up a large leadership training program. The team is now working on pilots with multiple universities and organizational development consultancies in US and Middle East, also they have a Partnership with Project RIA, an inter-disciplinary project to integrate linguistic, psychology, economical behavior, mathematic and education at Universidad de Chile.


Shrewsbury, MA

Ragnar Behncke, Founder and CEO and Pedro Melgarejo, Co-Founder and CTO Chandhu Nair, Co-Founder and Chairman

Combines social behavioral studies and latest technologies to drive user engagement and team productivity in education and workplaces