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About Shoelace

The ‘why’ behind what we do

We know the problem….

Over 50% of students graduate with only basic comprehension.

Comprehension is crucial for analyzing, synthesizing, predicting and developing critical thinking skills and critical thinking is the only way our future generations will go on to solve some of the world’s great challenges.

But to get kids to invest in their learning, we need to meet them where they’re at – video games.

That’s where Shoelace comes in.

We’ve built a world-class library and learning engine to personalize learning for each student. The design not only focused on measuring mastery of comprehension skills but also on how many perspectives were presented to build the muscle of thinking critically with broadened context.

Then we built a game platform connecting popular video games to personalized learning. On Shoelace, kids are begging to learn.

For teachers, we designed tools to track learning, identify challenges and present assignments through the games kids love. Shoelace teachers are the heroes in their classrooms.

My students cheer when their ‘May Do’ list includes going to Dreamscape. They will complete their assignments just so they can play! They play at home and at school and compare their builds. They are reading and LOVE it!

Jennifer Smith, Grade 3-5 Teacher

Making change on a global stage

Today, Shoelace supports millions of players who use the platform and the games to measurably improve their reading skills. Reading comprehension skills are imperative for developing critical and creative thinking in learners, and our focus remains on broadening the context of learners to help them develop real-life problem-solving skills, all through gameplay.

We firmly believe that embracing diversity, equity and inclusion drives innovation, improves outcomes, and is foundational to equitable education for all. At Shoelace, this means actively seeking diverse perspectives, fostering belonging within our walls, and advancing inclusive research and development

This commitment applies to our content, too. To avoid perpetuating biases often found in existing literature collections, Shoelace Learning develops nearly all of the content available on the platform. This way, we’re able to maintain high standards from a variety of lenses related to cultural responsivity. Additionally, since 2021 passages and reading comprehension questions have undergone rounds of auditing by our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity (JEDI) cohort.

Recognized as the top innovative EdTech application by the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) and among the top 20 EdTech companies globally by the ASU GSV.

We’re partnered with other EdTech players like Google and Clever to support the teachers determined to find a better way to assist their students in learning.

Shoelace is not just another EdTEch application, it’s a new and better way to learn.


We see future generations of learners with broadened thinking to change the world.


To deliver the best education to every learner through games they love.

About the Founder

Julia Dexter, the founder of Shoelace Learning, is a woman who has defied great odds to become a successful entrepreneur and athlete. Her journey began when she was labeled “dumb” in fourth grade due to a speech impediment and reading struggles. Despite this, she found confidence in sports and eventually became a national-level kayaker and Olympic athlete.

After becoming a single mother and struggling financially, she started building websites and went on to build a company that became Google’s Apps first North American Premier Partner for Enterprise clients. However, it was her experience with her own son’s reading difficulties that inspired her to start Shoelace Learning.

With a deep passion for education and a commitment to helping all kids reach their full potential, Julia and the team at Shoelace Learning have built a world-class education platform that connects popular video games to personalized learning, with a focus on reading comprehension skills.

Julia’s story is one of resilience, determination, and a deep desire to make a difference in the world. Learn more about Julia’s journey in this self-penned 12-article series titled The Starting Line.

From Our Founder

My story begins when I was 9 years old, entering grade 4 and relegated to the ¾ split. They dubbed this “the dumb class”. I had a speech impediment and struggled with reading, but I knew that I had potential. I was screaming inside to be seen.

Feeling lost in the academic space, I turned to sports. My coaches saw my drive and their belief in me fostered confidence that I would achieve something special.

By the time I entered university, I was a national-level kayaker and, three years later, I found myself representing Canada at the Olympics. Looking around I saw superhero athletes I’d spent my life aspiring to be and realized that being the best in the world was possible, even for that little girl in the dumb class.

Immediately following the games, I welcomed my first son Oscar followed by Max and Phoenix. As a single mum of small children, I struggled financially. I started graphic designing and building websites.

By 2006, I had built a web development firm that won 2 Webby Awards and by 2008 I had built a company that became Google’s Apps first North American Premier Partner for Enterprise clients.

In 2010, my son Max’s teacher reached out to let me know he was well below the expected reading levels and would struggle to catch up. Seeking solutions for Max, I soon found that this is a far-reaching problem. Declining literacy rates throughout North America have reached a new low – too many kids are not being seen.

I wanted to know what was going on. I spent the next 6 months shadowing teachers in classrooms and it became clear that kids were checked out of their learning. It was shocking to see how little had been done to build great education tools for our kids.

We simply had to do better, and that has become my mission:
To deliver the best education to all kids through the games they love to play.

Shoelace Learning is rooted in this mission and it’s built into everything we do.

More to come,

Learn more about Julia’s journey in this self-penned 12-article series titled The Starting Line.

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