7 Irish Startups to Make Education and Learning Better

Thanks to everyone who made this event a success! Here’s a snapshot of the event with the winners announced.

1st Place: Hello Coder

An application teaching girls to code by creating fashion.

Hello Coder team

2nd Place: NextFuture

A platform for second and third level students to work on real life projects and make better career decisions.

Next Future Team
Next Future Team

3rd Place:  Play Academy

Playful games for companies to improve team dynamics and create high performing teams.

Play Academy Team
Play Academy Team

Teams

Kids EduPro is a platform where parents can find expert advice and resources about alternative education.

Learning Mat is a multi sensory interactive collaborative learning for all age groups and subject areas.

Propeller is a platform that gives students a real world experience and companies – an affordable labour.

Learn Log is a solution for keeping track of child’s well-being and creating an interactive dialogue with parents and teachers.

 

Quality of Ideas

As organisers we were impressed by the quality and a variety of ideas, from lifelong learning, school education to professional development – teams at Startup Weekend Education tackled all problems!

Global Startup Battle

Dublin Startup Weekend Education made it to the top 20 at Global Startup Battle, a competition of 102 startup weekends from all around the world competing during November 13-15.

Join our Community

Startup Weekend Education was the first hackathon for education and learning technology in Ireland, and as organisers we hope it will spark a community of edupreneurs! Join our new meetup group Learning Technology Ireland to continue working on ideas that change the way we learn.

Learning Technology Ireland is a community of technologists, designers, educators and entrepreneurs who come together to share knowledge. We’re creating an open space to discuss problems in learning and education, and brainstorm ideas for possible solutions. Send a message to Ruta, Amy or David if you want to organise a meetup together.

Website: http://www.meetup.com/Learning-Technology-Ireland

 








Montreal-based MakerBloks Hits Crowdfunding Goal in Two Days! Wants to Rethink How Kids Learn Electronics

MakerBloks A Montreal startup that wants to teach children about electronics is seeing strong success on Kickstarter, reaching its $25,000 goal on the second day of its crowdfunding campaign. MakerBloks are colourful blocks that allow children to create real electric circuits. A Kickstarter campaign to fund their creation launched on Tuesday morning, raising over $20,000 within 24-hours and reaching its goal on Wednesday afternoon. Francois Poirier, the CEO and creator of MakerBloks says he got the idea while working as a product designer. Clients would come to him with little more than a circuit board and his job was to make the products look good and be easy to use, but he says, “I actually had no idea what they had in their hand, the [printed circuit board] itself was a mystery to me.” Poirier says his then-seven-year-old niece was developing a strong interest in science and technology at the same time so he thought it would be fun for the two of them to learn about electronics together.

“I looked at all the different ways to do it, software, books, DVDs and toys,” he says, but nothing fit. When it comes to toys, he says, “they are all bad, they are all using outdated technology.” He says the toys on the market might make sense to engineers but they don’t make sense to a six-year-old. Having worked as a consultant for Mega Brands, he thought about creating an educational tool that involved bright plastic blocks.

One of the MakerBloks kits being launched as part of the Kickstarter campaign also includes a augmented reality feature – a mirror that attaches to an iPad’s camera and allows children to solve puzzles in a virtual game using their real-world blocks. It’s another thing that Poirier says sets MakerBloks apart from other electronics kits on the market. “They don’t use what the kids are using,” he says. “I thought it was important to adapt to the kids of today.” Still, Poirier says MakerBloks won’t be going entirely virtual. “For me it’s really important to always have the hardware piece, the blocks,” he says. “Because if they are more interested in electronics when they are 10, 12-years-old and they actually want to pick up a soldering iron and build real circuits, it’s always going to be a physical world.” As part of the Kickstarter campaign, MakerBloks is offering several different kits as individual perks, that will help guide future developments from the company. “I think the Kickstarter campaign will actually give us a really good idea of what our audience wants,” Poirier says. That’s a big part of why he decided to launch his product through a crowdfunding campaign. “Gaining visibility and validating the product is the major reason we’re doing the Kickstarter, for sure the funding will help but it’s not the main goal,” he says. “Dollars are the best feedback you can get.” While delivering the MakerBloks on time and living up to the promises made in the Kickstarter campaign is Poirier’s main goal right now, he’s also got his eye on the future. He wants MakerBloks to be the flagship product of a company that’s focused on science, technology, engineering and math learning for kids.

Makerbloks Awards
Makerbloks Press Coverage

Originally posted in TechVibes Canada








Educator to Entrepreneur: Using Entrepreneurial Skills to Impact Learning

This post was written by Maggie Croushore, Founder of KidFit Academy and Co-Organizer of SWEDU San Francisco Nov 22nd.

We have an amazing organizing team filled with former teachers, entrepreneurs, startup weekend graduates, and people 100% dedicated to finding solutions to education’s most persistent challenges.

Startup Weekend Education (SWEDU) San Francisco Team

sf logo

A Life-Changing Experience

Early on in our planning conversations, my Co-Organizers and I knew that we wanted to do a special workshop just for teachers leading up to our SWEDU San Francisco on Nov 22nd.  Three out of five of us are former classroom teachers, so it made sense for us to hold an event specifically for educators to prepare them for the weekend. And for me, in particular, this idea hit close to home.

I remember when I attended my first SWEDU as a teacher last year. I was incredibly nervous, as I had never before been exposed to entrepreneurship and had no idea what to expect.  However, as I drove to the event, I gained the courage to step out of my comfort zone in a room full of complete strangers and pitch an idea that had been ruminating in my mind for some time.  And I am so glad I did! I ended up creating KidFit Academy, and I can honestly say that SWEDU changed my career path. I would not be where I am today without it. And so my Co-Organizers and I wanted to make sure other teachers get the same opportunity to play a leadership role in creating great solutions to their own problems in the classroom.

From the beginning, we knew that we not only wanted to recruit some amazing teachers for our event, but we also wanted to connect teachers to the growing education technology sector in a real and meaningful way.  After some conversation, we decided on the following overarching goals for the workshop.

  • Introduce educators to the concepts and skills needed for startup weekend
  • Begin cultivating a community of educators dedicated to entrepreneurship
  • Empower educators to use entrepreneurial skills to problem solve pressing educational issues
  • Provide a safe and supportive learning space for educators to brainstorm and practice pitching business ideas for upcoming SWEDU

swedu sf panel 

A Big Success

Through our event, we were able to accomplish several of our key goals.  First, we were able to recruit some amazing teachers for our event. After participating in our dynamic workshop, these teachers will be even more prepared for an amazing SWEDU experience. Also, by exposing teachers to the power of their voice in the education innovation movement, we were able to open the dialogue for future conversations bringing together education startups and teachers.

It is important to communicate to teachers that SWEDU is not just for those that might be thinking of joining or founding a startup. Classroom teachers do not have to leave the setting of a school, in order to make an impact in the edtech world.  I know that as a teacher, I was intimidated by these type of events; however, throughout the weekend, I quickly realized that I not only had a lot to add to the conversation, but I also was an asset to my team. Only us teachers have the experience of seeing many problems up front, on a daily basis, and that experience is a value-add to anyone interested in solving those problems.

At the end of our workshop, it was inspiring to see some attendees share their problems and proposed solutions. Just imagine! If they can come up with such great ideas in less than hour, what could they come up with over the course of a 54-hour weekend?

Replicating the Model

After a while, those of us in the startup scene sometimes forget that not everyone speaks the language of entrepreneurship and that can be incredibly intimidating. Having a teacher-centric event not only shows teachers how important they are, it acts as preparation for the weekend.  By hearing from former educators-turned-entrepreneurs and participating in a startup weekend mini-simulation, teachers walked away from the event with a better understanding of entrepreneurship, as well as a strong pitch for the weekend or beyond.  Teachers already engage in the thinking behind entrepreneurship; they just might not realize it, because they call it something different—good teaching.

I would absolutely recommend that future SWEDU Organizers implement this type of workshop prior to their event. Teachers need to be in the dialogue when it comes to education products and startups, as they always think of their students and have the ability to see things that others may not. Teachers are an essential part of the SWEDU puzzle, and the better you prepare them for the weekend ahead, the more empowered they will be to contribute their experience and skill-set to the development of solutions to some of education’s biggest problems.

Join us this weekend at SWEDU San Francisco, Nov 22-24