Teacherpreneur Communities

One of the best aspects of building TeacherSquare over the past year has been meeting dynamic educators and school leaders from teacherpreneur communities across the country. I’ve created this list to highlight the ones that I have been inspired by and have connected with directly. I’ve also included Twitter handles and hashtags so you can join the conversation and connect with them yourself.

  • Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ): A research-based advocacy group that seeks to further the role and impact of teacherpreneurs. CTQ Collaboratory is an incubator for teachers’ bold ideas and innovative solutions and they also welcome all who value teachers as leaders in the classroom and beyond. Anyone can sign up (check out my profile) and begin virtually collaborating with teacherpreneurs around the world. (@TeachingQuality)

  • EdUnderground: Bringing together education technology pioneers and early adopters from various districts across the state of Rhode Island in partnership with the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) to explore technology models, approaches and solutions to enhance student achievement. Lead by Shawn Rubin, Director of Tech at Highlander Institute and founder of MyMetryx, their group conducts regular Meetups and Twitter chats (#EdUnderground and #EdchatRI.)

  • 4.0 Schools: Matt Candler and team are building a community of curious people committed to unprecedented innovation in education and are at the heart of the education ecosystem in New Orleans. 4.0 engages a diverse group of innovators through variety of program offerings- Essentials (one-day/weekend workshops) as well as a virtual and in-house accelerator programs.  (@4pt0Schools)

  • Stanford d.school K12 Lab: This group recently relaunched with some exciting on and offline efforts to support teacherpreneurs in the Bay Area and beyond. They just closed their application process for the fellowship program they will be hosting this upcoming school year (AY 13-14) and are launching 2.0 versions of @projectbreaker and @sparktruck experiences in June. (@K12Lab)
  • Digital Harbor Foundation: Fosters innovation, tech advancement, and entrepreneurship through educational initiatives in their hometown of Baltimore and beyond, with a focus on digital literacy, maker activities, and tech workforce development. Director Andrew Coy also supports the regular Baltimore EdTech Meetup events to connect with local educators and technologists. (@DHFBaltimore.) An Estuary is a newly developed (for-profit) spin-off from the DHF focused on “leveraging mobile-first tech, data and collaboration to improve professional development.”

  • LearnLaunch: Seeks to expand the education ecosystem in the New England area. They offer classes, peer group learning, conferences, networking opportunities and other educational services to individuals and organizations seeking to work with educators, students and families to enable the growth and success of the learning ecosystem. Their first accelerator class, LearnLaunchX, will begin in June 2013. (@LearnLaunch)

  • EdSeeds: An educator-focused incubator program that is designed to encourage innovation in Colorado’s K-12 schools by providing a platform to help educators solve specific classroom challenges in novel ways. (@EdSeeds)
  • EdLab: research, design, and development unit at Teachers College, Columbia University that hosts a variety of seminars and seeks to connect the education, technology and research communities. Their publication, the New Learning Times (NLT), provides daily coverage of the transformation of learning opportunities in the information age for those shaping the future of education, including profiles of various education leaders. (@EdLabTC)
  • Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF)- leads the Integrated STEM Teacher Corps, a cadre of teachers working together to overcome challenges in implementing a transdisciplinary approach to STEM education. Meetings are monthly at Silicon Valley Education Foundation.  The meeting format is a combination of guest speakers with an exciting tool, project, or idea to share and time spent sharing challenges in teaching STEM and collaborating with peers on solutions for an integrated approach to teaching STEM.  For more information, contact Amy Wong at amy@svefoundation.org. (@SVEFoundation)
  • CityBridge Education Innovation Fellowship: In partnership with New Schools Venture Fund, CityBridge launched a year-long fellowship from Jan – Dec 2013 for ~12 educators in the Washington DC area. This program includes local and national school visits, speakers, technology demonstrations and discussions.  In addition, Fellows will design and lead blended learning pilot programs during the summer of 2013 and the 2013-2014 school year.  The Fellowship is an intentional investment in teachers—the classroom leaders who can spark instructional innovation through breakthrough uses of digital content and tools.

I’d love to see this list grow, so leave a comment and let me know if there is anyone I missed. As this ecosystem develops, ideally we will create an easy way for educators across these groups to connect (a network of networks) and share what’s happening in their local school communities.

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Connecting Silicon Valley and the Ivory Tower

Since 2005 Columbia University’s Teachers College has been quietly developing their EdLab which internally incubates some promising ideas and in their words, “engages in work that has the potential to contribute to the improvement of educational institutions today and the broader evolution and reconfiguration of future educational services.”

One of their projects that recently caught my attention is ResearchBroker, a tool to connect startups to skilled researchers who are passionate about validating new ideas in industry. While these efforts can be applied to multiple verticals, I think the edtech implications are extremely exciting. (Perhaps because I’m always drawn to efforts that bring together edtech founders with education practitioners in hopes that this exchange will lead to better product development and implementation.) In case you missed it, EdSurge just wrote their own profile on the product and team.

I recently spoke with Megha Agarwala and Janice Joo, Innovation Fellows at EdLab who created this tool, to learn more about their progress & vision and help engage users in the Bay Area.

What problem is ResearchBroker trying to address?

A number of educational startups are looking for researchers who can help validate product ideas and determine the effectiveness of their product for different users, including instructors, students and program administrators. The startups need researchers to identify metrics to track and collect data, design and conduct studies, analyze data and also potentially publish the results within their community.  

On the other side are Doctoral and Masters degree researchers who are looking for real-world projects where they can gain valuable experience collecting and analyzing data and also use that experience towards their academic pursuits. ResearchBroker is a free platform that has been designed to connect these two parties. Instead of waiting for introductions, startups can directly connect with researchers by creating their research projects on ResearchBroker.

ResearchBrokerHomepage

What has been the response from early users? What are you looking for from your next set of users?

So far, users on ResearchBroker are educational startups in New York City and researchers at Teachers College Columbia University. Startups have shown a commitment to using the ResearchBroker platform to define their projects and bring a researcher onto their team. EdLab has been offering guidance to startups on how to define their research questions, and will create learning resources to help startups leverage existing research.
Because EdLab is uniquely positioned within Teachers College, we have been able to plug startups into a network of researchers. We were able to connect the founders of the language learning platform, Instreamia to a researcher and they are already discussing their research direction.
 
Moving forward, we would like to expand beyond the New York City tri-state area to include Silicon Valley educational startups and researchers at schools beyond Teachers College.  We would also like to organize events to bring researchers, startups, teachers and learners together to brainstorm and solve research problems and share their work.

How can people learn more or share feedback?

Please feel free to contact us directly at researchbroker@tc.columbia.edu if you have any further questions.

The Magic of an Unconference

  1. I have heard a lot about the magic of the edCamp unconference, which promotes “organic, participant driven professional development for K12 educators worldwide,” and as a first timer I was really impressed. Sounds so simple– people show up, decide what they want to talk about, organize themselves in sessions throughout the day and begin. Yet as someone who has organized several events, especially for teachers, it is pretty crazy how smoothly the entire production unfolded given that a majority of the planning happens in real time. Massive shout-out to Diane Main and Bill Selak, with support from several amazing sponsors (like Remind101), on making the magic happen.

    I was bummed I couldn’t attend the morning sessions but glad I got to connect with some of my favorite edu folks and enjoyed the smackdown. I think Storify is the best way to capture the highlights from the smackdown where attendees took turns coming up and sharing tips and tricks about the tools they love and new ones they plan on trying out. 

  2. billselak
    It’s time for the Smackdown at #EdcampSFBay! Follow @EdCampSFBay for every site/resource shared.
  3. Lots of love for ImagineK12 alumni with mentions of Remind101, EdShelf, Educreations and more…
  4. teachingwthsoul
    Whoo! @remind101 Rocks! “@EdCampSFBay: Remind101- free mass texting app. #edcampsfbay””
  5. There were also shout-outs to usual suspects Edmodo and Quizlet. The one I’m going to try out is YouTube video editor to help with all my TeacherSquare videos.
  6. Jessie_Arora
    Thx @rushtonh for this ninja tip “@EdCampSFBay: YouTube video editor-free online video editor. Creative commons, music & more! #edcampsfbay”
  7. VisionsByVicky
    It’s official – I’m exhausted! Thanks to everyone who attended #edcampsfbay today & made it such a great day.

My continuing education

I’ve been on vacation and am pleasantly surprised with how much I have actually been able to unplug from my online life. (Hence the absence of a post or many tweets lately!) It’s always such a treat to getaway and spend quality time with family, however, especially in recent years the distance traveled that impacts my vacation the most is the one between me and my laptop. While I mostly focus on education startups, another purpose of this blog is my own ongoing education and insights I’ve picked up along the way.  So, with that I’ll keep this brief and just wanted to share a lovely quote that I came across while lounging by the pool that deeply resonated with me.

What surprises you most about getting older?

“I am surprised to find how much happier I am with life. With age comes a deep acceptance and appreciation of self. Instead of focusing on what I don’t have in life, I find myself feeling a great sense of satisfaction with what is. I no longer worry so much about what other people will think, or obsess about details that won’t matter in five years. My career has flourished, my home life is happy, and friendships are more genuine and lasting.”

Let’s #EdChat

As a follow up to my recent post on the Top Edu Tweetters, I’ve created an overview guide of the most popular edu-related chats and how to easily join those conversations. If you’re new to Twitter chats, I recommend some tools that make it easy to manage those conversation streams. You may want to start tomorrow, Wed Feb 8th, with EdSurge’s inaugural #esinstruct Twitter chat on the best tools, tips and techniques for language learning. I’m always looking for ways to connect educators and edtech entrepreneurs so I’d love to hear your feedback on participation and outcomes from these discussions.

 

Top edu-related Tweetters

Lately, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking about the best way to connect tech-savvy teachers with some of the amazing teams and products I’ve encountered during my exploration of the intersection of education and technology. Many conversations have lead me to Twitter and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard- “Teachers love Twitter!”  That’s great. I’m a big fan too, but it has been a challenge figuring out who to follow and which conversations to join to easily get a sense of what’s going on in this space without getting sucked into the Twitterverse for hours on end. To help, I’ve created this list of Top Edu Tweetters that I’ve found most inspiring and informative. I’d love to hear who your favorites are… is there anyone I should add to this group? Is there a particular list that you’ve found interesting?

Also, stay tuned for post outlining the top edu related #chats and how best to participate.

What is the purpose of school?

Great visualization of how we need to shift our thinking on what is the purpose of school and education from the great Sir Ken Robinson.

Happy 2nd Birthday- The School Fund

“Education is like a mountain, the higher you climb, the more you can see.”

-Riaz Abeid : Teacher, Lugalo Secondary School : Iringa, Tanzania

Yesterday I attended the 2nd Birthday for The School Fund, a global youth development program started by a group of college students to help kids in Africa and other parts of the developing world attend school. (Amazingly, this is often possible with as little as $150/yr for a uniform, books and tuition.)

There were several aspects of this organization that are especially impressive:

– Volunteer Led: Matt Severson, the founder who began this work while he was an undergrad at Brown, works full time at Google and manages a team of volunteers split between the East and West Coast. (It’s also a family affair with Matt’s Dad working on the website and his Mom facilitating the trips.)

– Transparency: Allows donors to see their funds directly put to use by posting receipts in the fund history in the student’s profile page.

– Building Relationships: The journal feature enables donors to connect with the student(s) they sponsor and get regular updates beyond the information they share in their bio.

– Youth Engagement: High schools students have built clubs on campuses to spread the word about TSF & raise funds, and have traveled to visit some of the students to deepen their relationships.

Partnerships: Recognizing that other nonprofits could benefit from the tool they created, the team realized the best way to scale their impact is to partner with other organizations such as Goals Haiti, Children of Kibera, Education for All Children and many more…

The Team has gotten the attention of the Clinton Global Initiative as well as the Skees Family Foundation. They are well on their way to increasing access to education for the millions of kids who don’t go to school. I’m truly inspired by the work Matt and the team are doing and hope others will support their work!

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

A special post in honor of Steve Jobs- inspiring entrepreneurs, designers, and life-long learners all over the world to follow their dreams and never settle. May he rest in peace.

“Go fast, go alone; go far, go together”

As I continue on my journey as an education evangelist, I keep coming back to the this idea of collective impact and Stanford Social Innovation Review’s article from last winter on how collaboration among non-profits can lead to the long-term systemic results that we’ve been chasing for decades in various social sectors. The key lesson is that achieving collective impact not only requires shifting investment of time and money towards long-term goals, but more so a shift in non-profit and philanthropic culture to value and fund collaborative efforts, including the operational costs needed to establish conditions for effective collaboration.

The research team goes on to outline the five conditions of collective success:

  1. Common Agenda
  2. Shared Measurement Systems
  3. Mutually reinforcing activities
  4. Continuous communication
  5. Backbone support organizations

In thinking about the scale needed to reach all the students that need help now, this point resonated with me the most- “In the field of education, even the most highly respected nonprofits—such as the Harlem Children’s Zone, Teach for America, and the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP)—have taken decades to reach tens of thousands of children, a remarkable achievement that deserves praise, but one that is three orders of magnitude short of the tens of millions of U.S. children that need help.” Through a collective approach, do you think successful programs could scale more effectively and efficiently to reach kids who are in failing schools today?

Do you know if anyone in the Bay Area is trying out this approach? I’d love to hear from you and them!

Want to read more on this topic? Check out David Bornstein’s New York Times article (March 2011) on Collective Impact  titled, “The Power of Partnerships.”

Citation: The title of this post is an abbreviated version of Warren Buffet’s statement- “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”