Nov 14, 2022 · 4 min read

Along Earns Special Mention on 2022 TIME Best Inventions List

The free teacher-student connection builder offered by Gradient Learning has been recognized by TIME for providing educators with an easy way to check in with students


Along, the first-of-its-kind teacher-student connection builder offered by Gradient Learning, was selected for a “Special Mention” on the Best Inventions of 2022 list by TIME.

Along provides educators with a free and easy way to build authentic relationships with their students despite the many barriers to connection that exist in today’s classrooms. A typical school day for teachers offers little time for fostering one-on-one connection with their students, and there are few resources for relationship building available. Along was purpose-built to integrate seamlessly into a teacher’s day, offering immediate pathways for fostering relationships with minimal prep time.

“Being recognized by TIME as one of the best inventions of the year is deeply exciting for our team, and it further validates our commitment to helping teachers build meaningful relationships with their students,” said Samia Zaidi, Along’s program director. “We are inspired to continue innovating so students feel seen and known within today’s challenging school environments, and have opportunities to grow as whole students.”

Every year, TIME recognizes products, software and services that are solving compelling problems in creative ways across all categories, including technology, beauty, health care, food, home and entertainment. Browse the full list of winners here.

Within Along, educators have instant access to a free library of research-informed questions, classroom activities, and educator practice resources designed to help students open up about themselves and their interests. Students are immediately notified when an educator sends a reflection question — or writes one of their own — and then have the choice to respond in their own time and in their own way: over a quick video, audio, or text message. Educators use their student dashboard to view, organize, and easily follow up on the responses students share.

Gradient Learning and its partner the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) are using research and evidence-based practices from the fields of learning science and human development to build tools, like Along, designed to help educators differentiate learning experiences for every student. Along was developed in partnership with researchers, students and educators and inspired by the Search Institute’s applied research on building developmental relationships.

“We are so gratified by TIME’s recognition of a tool that grew from a truly collaborative effort involving key contributions from students, teachers, researchers and engineers,” said CZI’s Head of Education and VP of Product Sandra Liu Huang. “It is an inspiring example of how research insights, when combined with enabling technology, can meaningfully transform learning for all students by supporting positive teacher-student connections.”

Designed with security and privacy in mind, Along ensures school staff, parents, teachers and students own and control their own personal information. In 2022, Along was named a “Best Tool for Back to School” by Common Sense Education, an independent and trusted source that educators turn to for support about technology to use in the classroom. It has also earned the iKeepSafe FERPA and COPPA privacy badges. To learn more about Along’s culture of privacy and commitment to going beyond compliance, visit here.

To explore Along, please visit


About Along

Along is a first-of-its-kind teacher-student connection builder provided at no cost by Gradient Learning, a nonprofit organization founded and led by educators who are driven to bring communities, schools, and families together in pursuit of meeting the needs of every student. Using simple, yet powerful, reflection questions, Along helps to solve the connection gap between teachers and their students by fostering authentic conversations. With the support of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Gradient Learning partners with communities, schools, and educators to create solutions—such as the Summit Learning program and Along—to meet the holistic needs of every student while fostering success for all.

About Gradient Learning

As a nonprofit organization led by educators, Gradient Learning is a trusted partner — to communities, schools, educators — that creates captivating solutions to meet the holistic needs of every child while fostering success for all. We are empowering an underpowered educational system to work for students of today and tomorrow. Our offerings include the Summit Learning program — a research-based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student-teacher relationships — and Along.

About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded in 2015 to help solve some of society’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease and improving education, to addressing the needs of our communities. Through collaboration, providing resources and building technology, our mission is to help build a more inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit

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