Last year, SXSWEdu was a blast, (if you need any reminding, check out our photo album). We’re certain that this year will be even better! From March 9-12th, we’ll be in Austin, TX participating in five SXSWEdu events.
1. LAUNCHedu Competition
Early-stage startups seeking feedback, investment, strategic partnerships and exposure were invited to apply online to have their company considered for the competition. The promising startups that are selected as finalists in the competition will present their early stage business concepts before a judging panel of industry experts, early adopters and educators, as well as a live audience at SXSWedu. More details.
2. Workshop: Understanding and Empathizing With Education Users
How well do you think you know your user? Whether you’re a teacher trying to understand the needs of students in your classroom or an entrepreneur trying to understand the needs of teachers and students who use your product, empathy and understanding is the secret weapon of successful entrepreneurs. In this workshop, you will discover and practice techniques for understanding your user’s needs. More details.
3. Panel: Redesigning School As We Know It
Why does school mean four walls, one teacher and 20 students? Ever had an idea for how to reinvent a school from the ground up? This panel will discuss how to design schools of the future that create opportunities for students and teachers to thrive. What are the frameworks for thinking about what is needed in a new school model? If you’re interested in designing personalized learning and competency-based education, then this panel is for you. Meet the panelists and find out where this event will be hosted.
4. Edtech Community Builders Meetup powered by Edtech Austin
Leading edtech events, programs or organizations in your community? Looking to take the edtech scene in your city to the next level? Edtech community builders from around the world are gathering at SXSWedu to swap stories and share tactics. More details.
Free entry and free drink tickets, but you must RSVP here.
A few of our Education Entrepreneurs Community Leaders are also hosting events:
Gaming the System: Teachers Hacking the Classroom, featuring Community Leader Courtney Francis
A growing number of teachers are creating games of all shapes and sizes for their own classrooms. They’re defying conventions in creative ways that inspire and engage students (and teachers!) to learn through game play. Let’s talk about what that’s like, and lead the way for other innovative teachers. We’ll share remarkable work, discuss the creation process and inspire one another to think like game designers. Learn how to create, adapt, remix, mash up and integrate games in classrooms. More details.
Building an EdTech Bill of Rights, featuring Community Leader Katrina Stevens
In this 2-hour, hands-on interactive session, we’ll use a design process to collectively create an “Edtech Bill of Rights” that suggests the responsibilities of different members of the EdTech ecosystem and fosters authentic partnerships. Goal is to facilitate dialogue among teachers, EdTech leaders, researchers, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders, with a focus on educator voices, for the purpose of working together across the ecosystem on innovative ideas that will improve student learning. More details.
For more information about Education Entrepreneurs, visit our website.
Today, we are excited to announce that 4.0 Schools and Education Entrepreneurs have formed a national partnership that covers two of our key program offerings: Startup Weekend Education and Workshops. As a leading incubator for pre-seed education entrepreneurs, 4.0 Schools will play a more active role at our events throughout the United States, ensuring our early stage entrepreneurs have a great next step to pursue, and that event Organizers feel supported in putting on a great event.
Since 2010, 4.0 Schools has launched 43 education ventures, 34 of which are still serving students, teachers, parents today. 4.0 Schools ventures have raised over $5M and earned more than $2.5M in revenue, and include such notable companies as Overgrad, Formative, Community Guilds, and Branching Minds. Also, several Education Entrepreneurs alumni have already taken advantage of 4.0 Schools programming, including Fantasy Geopolitics, Classtracks, Vidcode, and ImagiLabs.
With this new partnership, 4.0 Schools is excited to give Education Entrepreneurs participants the opportunity to bring their early stage ventures to 4.0 Schools for coaching and battle-testing their ideas with users via their two programs, Essentials and the Launch program.
- Essentials is a multi-day experience designed to help support 4.0 Schools community members move their ideas forward. Participants will practice the skills of empathy, unbundling, and prototyping, as they work to concisely define their customer or user, the problem they’re working to solve, and the solution they’re testing. Essentials alums walk out the door with a clear plan to test their idea.
- The Launch program supports entrepreneurs to bring new ventures – products, services, or school models – to life in under 90 days. If you’re a bold, gritty individual hungry to solve a tough problem, the Launch program will push you to test and iterate your envisioned solution until it is really meeting the needs of your end users. 4.0 provides an extensive test-bed in NOLA, where companies can iterate based on real user feedback and secure their first customers. During the Launch program, entrepreneurs will have access to coaching, connections, and equity-free capital up to 5k.
4.0 Schools is focused on more than just developing entrepreneurs. They’re committed to building communities of educators, entrepreneurs, and anyone looking to build the future of school. This new partnership will also more strategically connect our volunteer event Organizers and national Community Leaders with 4.0 Schools’ network and resources, to ensure the greatest impact possible can be made towards community building efforts focused on education innovation.
You can learn more about 4.0 Schools here.
Since 2010, we’ve been developing programming to support individuals interested in leveraging entrepreneurship to improve education outcomes. Recognizing that education entrepreneurs face unique problems that require unique solutions, we’ve focused our energy on increasing the quality and range of our offerings to ensure entrepreneurs feel supported at every stage of their journey. Centering on Startup Weekend Education, a 54-hour experiential learning event, education entrepreneurs can also take advantage of education-specific reading lists, bootcamps, meetups, resources, and a global network of Community Leaders, who specialize in education innovation.
Opportunities to Connect and Grow
See our flagship program, Startup Weekend Education, in action
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The Community is Driving Growth
Any opportunity that people get to engage with our programming is due to the hard work and dedication of hundreds of volunteer Community Leaders dispersed throughout the world. Community Leaders are those special individuals who want to bring people together to collaborate on the creation of education solutions. They strategically use our programs, resources, and global network to support the development of an education innovation community in their city. It’s because of these Community Leaders, that more people than ever are gaining access to key information, skills, and a network that’s been shown to play a pivotal role in the development of successful education entrepreneurs.
Growth Over Past Year
A Few Success Stories
Several education entrepreneurs that participated in Startup Weekend/Education have gone on to develop edtech products and teams that have been admitted into some of the most prestigious startup accelerators in the world (e.g. Imagine K-12, Y Combinator). Here’s a few of them: Sam and Liam of Class Dojo, Dan of Clever, Jeff of No Red Ink, and the team of Experiment. These entrepreneurs have all created effective solutions to significant pain points of teachers and/or administrators, and their impressive traction has resulted in several million dollars being invested in their companies in recent years.
As a high school social studies teacher, Eric Nelson had a problem of his students being disengaged & disinterested in geopolitics. At the recommendation of his mentor organization, 4.0 Schools, Eric pitched Fantasy Geopolitics at Startup Weekend Education Chicago in 2013. A year later, his product is engaging over 10,000 students and 500 teachers in learning about the world in which they live via a fun “fantasy football” type of game.
Ed an internet entrepreneur, Simon a graphic designer, and Paul an educator built Night Zookeeper during Startup Weekend Education London in 2011 to improve creative writing and literacy skills in young children. Night Zookeeper is now used in more than 5000 schools by more than 500,000 children, and they’ve raised about $900,000 to-date.
At Startup Weekend Education New York City in January 2014, three female developers, Alexandra Diracles, Melissa Halfon, and Leandra Tejedor, teamed up to get more teen girls excited about technology. Feeling a mutual charging that the tech world is still heavily male-dominated, these entrepreneurs wanted to find a way to teach girls that coding and working in tech is creative and fun. What resulted was Vidcode, a video coding app that is not only self-expressive, but paired with a hobby that teen girls love – creating and sharing videos. Today, their Kickstarter Campaign has already reached its goal, with five days still left to go!
Recognition from the Broader Education Community
- Nominated for the “Better Together” Digital Innovation Learning Award (winner announced November 21st)
- Selected as a panelist at SXSWEdu 2015 (topic is “Redesigning on School as We Know It”)
- Invited to conduct the Keynote at this year’s NYSCATE Conference, the largest professional organization of technology-using educators and administrators in New York State
What’s even better, our successful and seasoned entrepreneurs often times return to our events as Mentors, Speakers, or Judges, guiding the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs, and strengthening the “pay it forward” culture our Community Leaders have established.
The Name Should Reflect The Community
Recognizing that our Participants, Community Leaders, and Mentors are just as much the drivers for success as the programming and resources themselves, we have made the decision to move forward with a new name that shines a light on exactly who is responsible for this growing education innovation movement: people passionate about education entrepreneurship. As of today, we are officially retiring the Startup Education name and establishing ourselves as Education Entrepreneurs. Clear, to-the-point, and representative of who we are, our community is excited to carry this message forward:
We are Education Entrepreneurs, a global and diverse community that uses entrepreneurship to improve education.
So What’s Next?
- Visit our website to learn more about Education Entrepreneurs
- Stay up-to-date by following us on social media (Twitter and Facebook), subscribing to our newsletter, and bookmarking our website
- Check out our list of upcoming events to see which one you want to participate in
- Bring education entrepreneurship to your own community by organizing an event
- Email EducationEntrepreneurs@up.co with any questions or comments
Startup Education is the largest initiative in the world to provide year-round programming and resources dedicated to giving anyone, anywhere the opportunity to take action to improve education. SXSWedu is one of the most prominent conferences in the world focused on bringing people together to share ideas about fostering innovation in learning. Some say its a match made in education innovation heaven, and today, we’re excited to announce that we’ve submitted three proposals to present at next year’s SXSWedu conference. But we need your help!
30% of SXSWedu panel selection is based on public votes, which means your willingness to “thumbs-up” our proposals can mean the difference between new, action-oriented, and far-reaching approaches to improving education being shared, or the same ‘ol same ol’ narrative being told about the possibilities for education to evolve. We hope that our track record and vision going forward will inspire you to support our involvement in SXSWedu, but if that’s not enough, here are three key topics for discussion we’d like to add to the story being told at the conference:
- Edtech solutions, alone, will not transform education. Communities of people equipped with entrepreneurial skills, who are empowered to take action will transform education.
- A collaborative innovation process that involves multiple stakeholders, perspectives, and skill-sets is the best innovation process when it comes to improving educational outcomes.
- Creating the space to challenge what school traditionally looks like, feels like, and results in, spurs creativity and produces fresh ideas for designing improved models for learning.
Take Action: Place Your Vote by Friday, September 5th
Public voting officially ends Friday, September 5th. If you’re interested in helping us shake up the usual narrative about innovating education, and share the incredible grassroots work our Community Leaders around the world are doing to affect change, then complete these 3 quick steps:
Step 1: Create an account on SXSW Panel Picker. (If you already have one, skip to item #2 below)
- Click here to be directed to our SXSWedu proposal webpage.
- In the upper right-hand corner, select “Sign In.” You will be directed to a new page.
- On the Sign-In Page, select “Create Account.” Insert the required information, and your account will be confirmed.
Step 2: Vote for our three proposals
- Click on the links below
- On each page, select the “thumbs up” icon in the upper left-hand corner (Yes, you can vote for all three!)
- Vote for Growing an Education Innovation Community
- Vote for Understanding and Empathizing with Education Users
- Vote for Redesigning School As We Know It
Step 3: Share the opportunity
Know other people who want to shake things up?
Easily share this opportunity by clicking on the Twitter icons below:
- Grow your own education innovation community. Vote for this @SW_Edu panel at #SXSWedu: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/38230 #edchat #edtech
- Build with the education user in mind. Vote for this @SW_Edu panel at #SXSWedu: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/40721 #edchat #edtech
- Redesign School As We Know It. Vote for this @SW_Edu panel at #SXSWedu: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/42174 #edchat #edtech
Interested in checking out other SXSWedu panel submissions from Startup Education Community Leaders? See them highlighted here.
Want to learn more about Startup Education? Visit our website
Have comments or questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mercedes Caño, is part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Mexico City. Born in Spain and with a very special accent she shares with us her experience at the Startup Weekend DF – Creative Industries, of which she heard of through Startup Weekend México’s FanPage.
“I made the decision to go, because it was an initiative focused on the Creative Industries, a topic I feel deeply passionate about. During the weekend, I felt great, it was an extraordinary experience and I realized what I could achieve in only 54 hours. I also met people during the event, and made interesting synergies with them. It was very fun.” She says about the Startup Weekend.
When I asked what she liked the most, she answered with a smile and said the environment and the enthusiasm of the people is awesome, and she states the format of the event is very complete.
These are the 5 reasons to attend a Startup Weekend according to her:
- It’s not what you expect, and is so much more fun than you imagine.
- You discover your abilities in 54 hours.
- There’s a challenge to advance and create a product in a limited time.
- Meeting new people with whom you have things in common and creating interesting bonds.
- Inspiration and the will to learn.
Momentoteca, is the name of the winning project of the Creative Industries Edition, the idea came to Mercedes, from the relationship she wants to build with her niece, who lives in Spain. She wants to be more involved in her education and have the possibility to teach her things she likes whilst potentiating her creativity.
The main objective of the startup is connecting people through a platform that can achieve the humanization of technology, that helps them grow.
She says, “I’d recommend the program (SW) to my friends because I think is interesting to discover all the capacities we have, the experience was very positive.”.
Mercedes Caño, forma parte del ecosistema emprendedor en la ciudad de México. Nacida en España y con su acento tan especial, nos cuenta su experiencia en el Startup Weekend DF – Edición Industrias creativas, del que se enteró a través de la página de Facebook de Startup Weekend México.
“Decidí ir por que era una iniciativa enfocada en las industrias creativas, tema por el que me siento apasionada. Durante el fin de semana, me sentí excelente, fue una experiencia extraordinaria, y me dí cuenta de lo que soy capaz de hacer en 54 horas. Conocí gente durante el evento, y con esas personas tuve la oportunidad de crear sinergias interesantes. Fue muy divertido.” dice acerca del Startup Weekend.
Cuando le pregunté ¿Qué fue lo que más le gustó? con una sonrisa me dijo que el ambiente y el entusiasmo de la gente que se vive es espectacular y dice además que no cambiaría ninguna parte del formato del evento.
Estas son las 5 razones para ir a un startup weekend según Mercedes:
- No es lo que esperas, es mucho más divertido de lo que imaginas.
- Descubrir de lo que uno es capaz de hacer en 54 horas.
- Ponerse el reto de avanzar y crear algo en ese tiempo límite.
- Conocer gente nueva con la que se tiene cosas en común y crear conexiones interesantes.
- Inspiración y ganas de aprender.
Momentoteca, el proyecto ganador de la edición de Industrias Creativas, nace de la relación que tiene Mercedes con su sobrina, ella quiere estar más involucrada en su educación y tener la posibilidad de enseñarle cosas que le gusten, además de compartir con ella y potenciar su creatividad.
El objetivo de este startup es conectar a las personas a través de una plataforma que humanice la tecnología, que los ayude a crecer.
Ella dice: “Yo recomendaría el programa a mis amigos por que creo que es interesante descubrir las capacidades tan amplias que tenemos. La experiencia fue muy positiva”.
This post was written by Mabel Zhuang, Curriculum Developer at LaMeire College Consulting and Masters Student at Teachers College at Columbia University.
I first stumbled upon the startup world of education technology (edtech) at a demo night in San Francisco that a friend of mine had an extra ticket for. As I was recently admitted into an education graduate Master’s program, I went simply interested in learning more about education. What I got was not just an introduction to the exciting possibilities of technology within education, but that night, I caught the startup bug.
Since then, I’ve been heavily involved with the edtech startup scene in both coasts, and a comment I often hear is, “Where are the educators?” We are in a space where ideas and innovations are constantly generated, but a large majority of these ideas and innovations are coming from everyone but educators. Why aren’t more people collaborating with the individuals who are directly working with students on a daily basis to truly understand the problems and needs within today’s education system to build solutions that actually make sense? Why aren’t more educators jumping into the game and starting their own edtech ventures? Why aren’t there more educators becoming entrepreneurs?
When it comes to understanding what the problems and needs are in our current education system, it’s the teachers. Teachers know what they are lacking, what they need, and what works when it comes to instruction and learning because it is something they encounter every day. However, when it comes to building a product and launching it into the market successfully, the individuals who know best are the developers and businessmen. There is a wealth of expertise and resources that is often underutilized, and if educators are simply able to tap into this wealth, we can see amazing results.
An Educator Taking the Lead
Eric Nelson did just that. As a 9th grade social studies teacher in Forest Lake, MN, he found his students were bored and disengaged with world events. How could he get his students excited and interested in the news? He found the answer in fantasy football. That may sound odd at first, but here’s how he fused fantasy football with geopolitics. Nelson did not have his class create fantasy leagues and participate in the draft, but he used the same mechanics that appeal to him and masses of other people who play fantasy football and created a game called Fantasy Geopolitics. In the game, students create teams of countries and score points based on how often those countries appeared in the news. He found that by enlisting this “Fantasy Football” format, his students were having a ton of fun, while simultaneously learning about the complex relationships that arise from interactions among geography, politics, and the economy!
This was last year. Fast forward to today. Nelson’s Fantasy Geopolitics will be the first Startup Weekend Education-sponsored company at this year’s EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit in Nashville. Though Nelson came from a teaching background, he was able to utilize the knowledge, resources, and people power he acquired at Startup Weekend Education Chicago and 4.0 Schools to build a real company out of this incredible game so that social studies teachers everywhere can sign up and play the game with their students.
My hope is that there will be an increase in Edupreneurs such as Eric Nelson, teachers who are able to see their ideas to better education come to fruition. The resources are out there so let’s start sharing and collaborating!
Oh, and be sure to check out this awesome short video I made about Startup Weekend Education and Eric Nelson!
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