Edtech For Teachers, By Teachers

On Friday Imagine K12 hosted their 3rd Educator Day and I have to say these events just keep getting better. This makes sense as IK12 is a startup itself, iterating and improving with each group and  just getting ready to launch their third batch of 11 startups later this year. Tim Brady shared some insights from their first 30 companies, highlighting 3 categories that the companies they incubate fall into:

  1. Learning Tools: Student-centric tools designed to improve the learner experience, in both formal and informal settings
  2. Teaching Tools: A majority of their companies fall in this bucket, creating tools and systems to help teachers do their jobs more efficiently
  3. Administrative Tools: This is the least common area, where companies are building tools to help schools and districts operate more effectively, typically with an enterprise sales business model

I am extremely impressed by the number of teacher-led teams in this batch as I am a big believer that edtech for teachers, by teachers is going to create the products that are most likely to improve teaching and learning. (If those companies will survive long enough to figure out a business model is a topic for another post.) My quick highlights from the event:

  • My favorite teacher-founder is Kasey Brown with DigitWhiz. Kasey and I met at the Women 2.0 conference in Feb of this year and she was passionately talking about her product to help kids master fundamental math skills in a game-based environment. I strongly encouraged her to apply for IK12 and it’s wonderful to see her as part of this group, watching DigitWhiz evolve and become more than a side project.
  • My favorite product idea is Raise, which is taking a unique approach to college readiness by focusing on the financial barriers, giving students visibility and access to scholarships before the actual college application process. If done right, this has the potential to make college more of a reality for kids from underserved communities. I find these types of student tools particularly exciting and really hope they can create the partnerships and funding streams to make this happen.
  • My favorite new addition to IK12 is the Teacher-in-Residence. I am slightly biased as I’m a huge fan of the first person to take on this role, Jennie Dougherty, who is a HS teacher and co-founder of edUpgrade. You can’t walk by Jennie without picking up on her energy and passion for this work and all the teams are incredibly lucky to have her there to share her direct experiences from the classroom at the largest high school east of the Mississippi.
  • Special mention to Chalk, where 2 of the 3 team members just graduated from the Stanford LDT Program and began incubating their idea as part of their masters project.

I’m excited to see these teams continue their process and am optimistic about their potential to make a real impact on education.

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