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.
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 email@example.com
On September 13th in Los Angeles, EdSurge is hosting its next Tech for Schools Summit, and once again, Startup Education wants to give one lucky Startup Weekend Education alumni the opportunity to earn the coveted “Startup Education Featured Company” spot, and showcase their product in front of hundreds of educators and school leaders. The deadline to apply is Thursday, July 31st, at 5:00pm PST, so read on to find out how you can take advantage of this incredible opportunity!
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What is the Edsurge Tech for Schools Summit?
Last month, Startup Education formed a partnership with EdSurge, the leading source of news and resources for education entrepreneurs. This partnership offers an opportunity for Startup Education’s global community of education innovators to engage with EdSurge’s timely content, resources, and opportunities – including EdSurge’s Tech for Schools Summits. Encompassing day-long events in a variety of cities around the country, the Tech for Schools Summits give educators an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with some of the most innovative technology being built for schools, and at the same time, gives entrepreneurs the chance to get unfiltered feedback from their end users.
What are the perks of being a “Startup Education Featured Company” at the Summit?
Application fee is waived
Participation fee for Saturday’s “Educator Day”
1 round-trip flight
1 night hotel accommodation
Your own showcase table, branded “Startup Education Company”
Who is eligible?
The applying team must be based in the U.S.
At least one member of your team has participated in a Startup Weekend Education (Volunteers, Coaches, and Judges are not eligible; only participants that worked on a designated team throughout the 54 hour event qualify as “participants”)
Your product is built for the K-12 market
Your company has raised less than $150,000
Your company is less than 2 years old
You must be available to travel to Los Angeles on September 12th and 13th
Where do I apply?
2 Applications to Complete
When are the applications due?
Both applications must be completed Thursday, July 31st, at 5:00pm PST
Anything else I should know?
Startup Education will cover the flight and accommodations for one team member. You are welcome to bring additional team members; however, your team will be responsible for those costs.
It is OK if the company you are applying to represent at the Summit was not developed at a Startup Weekend Education event. We are interested in knowing who on your team has participated in a Startup Weekend Education event, and what impact participating in the event has had on the development of your product.
When will we know whether or not our team has been selected?
Friday, August 8th at 5:00pm PST
What if our team is not selected?
You are more than welcome to still participate in the Summit and get tremendous value out the experience; however, like other companies attending, your team will be responsible for covering the registration fee, flight, and accommodations.
You can also consider applying for one of EdSurge’s upcoming Tech For Schools Summits.
This is the first of many opportunities that Startup Education will be doing to further support alumni teams from Startup Weekend Education. Subscribe to the Startup Education newsletter to learn more about these opportunities.
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to learn more about Startup Education? Visit our website
Today, the Startup Weekend Education team and UP Global are excited to introduce Startup Education, a comprehensive set of programming specifically built for those interested in innovating education. We’ve also just kicked off an exciting new partnership with EdSurge, the leading source of news and resources on education technology. Read below to find out more.
The First of Its Kind
On June 3, 2011, the first Startup Weekend Education event launched in San Francisco, CA. Hosted at the offices of one of the most promising edtech companies at the time, Grockit, the event drew educators, entrepreneurs, developers, and designers from all around the country. Over the span of 54 hours, a group of roughly 80 participants pitched ideas, formed teams, received mentorship, and launched the first version of their startup aimed to solve a particular problem in education. The formula was pure magic!
ideas + teams + entrepreneurship + mentorship = innovative solutions
But that wasn’t surprising. Startup Weekend had been in existence since 2009, and the “idea-to-startup in one weekend” concept had already been proven in hundreds of cities around the world. What was up for debate, however, was the likelihood that this model could be applied to innovating education. The Startup Weekend Education event in San Francisco provided a good test, and the results were overwhelmingly positive.
Within a few months, Mountain View, Seattle, Washington DC, and London all followed suit, giving hundreds more people access to education entrepreneurship for the very first time. By the end of 2013, Startup Weekend Education expanded to 16 cities, spanning three continents, and played a pivotal role in the development of such companies as Clever, Class Dojo, Fantasy Geopolitics, and Trinket. In just over two years, Startup Weekend Education solidified itself as the largest starting point for education entrepreneurship in the world!
When You Know Better, You Do Better
The initial success of Startup Weekend Education proved that those passionate about leveraging entrepreneurship to solve problems in education could benefit from engaging in the 54-hour experiential learning event. However, as the number of events grew and increasingly more entrepreneurs went through the experience of trying to scale their venture beyond Startup Weekend Education, new learnings surfaced that highlighted opportunities for the program to improve its structure and expand its offerings.
In July 2013, Startup Weekend Education formed a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This partnership afforded Startup Weekend Education an important opportunity to apply its learnings from the first two years and build out new programming to further support entrepreneurs in their quest to get their innovations to the learners they were designed to help. Below is an outline of the expanded offerings:
- Startup Weekend Education: Increasing involvement of key stakeholders, such as educators, school administrators, and policy makers
- Special Editions: Focusing on a specific part of the education industry (e.g. Next Gen, Youth, Library)
- Sponsored Challenges: Connecting education problems that organizations want to solve with the community of entrepreneurs that are equipped to solve them
- Bootcamps: Teaching key information and skills to scale education innovations
- Meetups: Building community with others who want to improve education
- Resource Hub: Aggregating the most valuable resources for education entrepreneurs
- Pathways: Customizing paths people can take to play an influential role in the education innovation movement
- Summits: Gatherings bringing together Startup Education Community Leaders, participants, partners, and the broader public
The Start of a New Era
Expanding beyond the flagship 54-hour event known as Startup Weekend Education, the organization is excited to announce it’s new brand, Startup Education. Comprised of all the opportunities outlined above, Startup Education is the one place where anyone interested in education innovation can learn how to launch and scale their endeavors. Providing a comprehensive set of action-based opportunities for those passionate about innovating education, Startup Education has created an unprecedented opportunity for anyone, anywhere to shape the future of education.
Moving Forward Together
The ability of Startup Education to fulfill its mission is dependent on two main things: its community and its partners. Every Startup Education event is organized by a group of Community Leaders, forward-thinking individuals who volunteer their time, energy, and talents to empower others to play a role in innovating education. Startup Education is fortunate to have over 120 Community Leaders all over the world, and it is these special people who are the captains of this ship.
Startup Education is also fortunate to have formed a partnership with EdSurge, the leading source of news and resources on education technology. Going into effect July 2014, this partnership represents the pairing of Startup Education’s global community and action-based programming with EdSurge’s timely content, resources, and opportunities created specifically for education entrepreneurs.
The Startup Education community looks forward to utilizing EdSurge’s Edtech Index, Reports, and Guides to better identify opportunities to pursue and pitfalls to avoid. With the inclusion of EdSurge’s Tech for Schools Summits and Jobs, Opportunities, and Events Boards, the Startup Education community members will be aware of all the opportunities available to them as they navigate their journey through the education ecosystem. With the support of EdSurge, the Startup Education community will be better equipped to take on the hefty challenge of disrupting education.
The Time is Now, The Leader is You
Last year, 11 Startup Weekend Education events took place in North America and Europe. During the first six months of this year, there have already been 13 events, including two Youth events, one Library event, and one Next Gen event. With 39 more events already being prepared (including several Bootcamps launching this summer), Startup Education is on track to experience a 500% growth, closing out 2014 with 70 events, spanning nearly every continent on the globe!
With the addition of new programming, increasing interest to organize events, growing leadership within the community, and a valuable new partnership with EdSurge, the opportunity to change education for the better has never been more promising.
As with any truly catalytic movement, though, there is one particular factor that makes all the difference: the people. It is the people who show up and make their voice heard, it is the people who choose to collaborate, it is the people who put in the hard work, and it will be the people who determine what is done with this opportunity; this rare opportunity to play a role in shaping the future of education. Startup Education is confident that the people will rise to the occasion.
Startup Education Community Leaders from five continents gathered at the UP Summit in Las Vegas in May 2014
Five Ways You Can Make an Impact
- Become a Leader: Bring Startup Education to Your Community
- Join the Movement: Find an Upcoming Event Near You
- Stay Informed: Subscribe to our Newsletter
- Share the Opportunity: Tell Someone Else About Startup Education
- Show the Community Some Love: Like Us on Facebook
More About UP Global
UP Global, the umbrella organization for Startup Weekend, Startup Next, Startup Education, Startup Digest and now Startup Week, currently fosters entrepreneurship in 500 cities across the world, serving over 150,000 innovators. By 2016, the organization will support 1,000 communities through partnerships with local grassroots leaders and partnerships with organizations including Google for Entrepreneurs, the Case Foundation and Kauffman Foundation among others.
More About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world, the Gates Foundation aims to expand educational opportunities and access to information technology in America. Particularly, with respect to K12 education, Gates is focused on supporting innovation that can improve U.S. K-12 public schools and ensure that students graduate from high school ready to succeed in college.
More About EdSurge
EdSurge is an award-winning source of news and resources on education technology. Founded in 2011 in Silicon Valley, EdSurge has become the go-to resource for educators who want to learn about the latest products, entrepreneurs trying to build products that will accelerate learning and investors who are keen to participate in edtech. In addition to news, EdSurge has built the largest index of edtech products products and also runs a powerful series of Summits that brings together educators and entrepreneurs. EdSurge was named as “Organization of the Year” by the NewSchools Venture Fund (2014) and won a “Return on Education” Innovation award from the 2013 ASU GSV Education Summit.
I make a few hundred dollars a month from a course I made in my spare time about Bitcoin arbitrage. If I can do that with a super niche topic, so can you!
The Internet is all about dissemination of information. From the start, that’s been its main purpose and utility. Back in the 1990s, it allowed teachers for the first time to organize their knowledge in a document and publish it to the world as a web page.
We’ve come a long way, and new technologies combined with the Internet make sharing knowledge easier than ever.
1. A Website
The original way of sharing your knowledge is still a solid format. Typically when you make money with a website, it’s in the form of a blog. You run into these all the time – cooking blogs, DIY blogs, and tech blogs.
Most of the time, educational websites make money through advertising. Often, however, you can make money by promoting other ‘premium’ content that costs money.
People love videos because it makes the content seem more human. Students gather extra information from the tone and facial expressions of the teacher.
Screencasts need a small initial investment to get quality equipment for making videos. You need to make sure lighting and sound are spot-on. Don’t hesitate to get help with this!
Once you’ve made your videos, there are lots of tools for hosting and selling it. One tool for selling digital downloads is getdpd.com.
Ebooks are one of the more popular ways of selling knowledge, because people are used to paying for books compared to websites and videos. Ebooks can range from long and thorough to short and concise. Prices can similarly range from $50 to less than $5, depending on the subject and quality.
Webinars are becoming popular to build thought leadership while making money. Webinars are when multiple people watch a live stream of a teacher discussing a specific topic. These are popular because you get many benefits of in-person classes, like asking questions. But instead of meeting in a central location with limited capacity, webinars can be hosted for free and no one needs to travel anywhere.
5. Online Courses
Online courses allow you to create the most interactive and comprehensive learning experiences. The best platforms support dynamic content in a format that’s convenient to consume. Online courses uniquely offer questions, which provide a method for reinforcing the learning material.
Surprisingly, there isn’t a wide variety of amazing tools for creating online courses. Uludum.org is a non-profit platform where teachers can create online courses. Uludum offers the ability to crowdfund your courses, which you can’t do with other platforms.
One-on-One tutoring is also possible with the rise of video chat technology. Google Hangouts is built exactly for this, and you get paid for just as long as you tutor.
7. All of the Above!
I know I said I was going to tell you 6 ways of selling your knowledge online, but the truth is that most people don’t just choose one of these methods. Most people have some sort of website with free content to attract people and build a mailing list. From there, you can build an audience to sell online courses, ebooks, screencasts, webinars and more.
What are you waiting for? If you’re reading this, I bet you’re interesting and knowledgeable enough to make some extra money using these tips.
This post was written by Catherine Uong, Co-Founder of Doozey Game, Operations Intern at DevBootcamp, and Program Coordinator of USC Stevens Center for Innovation.
On April 11, Startup Weekend Education Mountain View will be turning the spotlight on the people who know most about schools – the kids! New York City launched this youth-centered format earlier this year, but for the first time, the Bay Area will be creating a space for both middle school kids and adults to collaborate and bring kid-centric ideas about education to life!
Curious as to why it’s important to involve kids in the education innovation process, I went ahead and interviewed Chris Chiang, the Lead Organizer for the event, a history teacher and technologist at Sacred Heart Middle School, and a School Board Trustee for the Mountain View Whisman School District.
Why is it important to give middle school kids the opportunity to play a leading role in the 54-hour event?
After my experience at participating in Startup Weekend Education, I wanted students to get involved too. Students often find startups and technology intimidating. So I felt it was the right time to get kids introduced to the space. Many kids have lived around these tech companies their whole lives but have no idea how they work. By letting them participate in a Startup Weekend Education, we can give kids a window into this world.
I think it’s important to have youth at the center of this event, because the student-teacher relationship is a reciprocal relationship. We can help introduce kids to STEM and entrepreneurship, but also help introduce adults to what kids know about schools.
Also, it’s more clear than ever that kids want to do something like this. For our event, we capped our student tickets at 60, but we sold out of those tickets in less than 48 hours. It’s a sign that kids want to get actively involved in building solutions for education!
In startups, we often talk about the user and user validation. Who knows schools better than students? I think the tech community can really benefit from having the student voice present to answer the question: “What would kids do?” By having the kids create the educational solutions that they would use, I think it will be a meaningful learning experience for everyone involved.
How were middle schoolers recruited for the event? And why middle schoolers, instead of high schoolers?
Many of our principals and educators reached out to kids at their schools to participate in the event. We wanted to get the kids that didn’t put limits on themselves yet. High schoolers often times have pre-existing notions, as many adults do, that may inhibit how “out-of-the-box” they’re willing to think. So we decided to reach out to middle schoolers, an age group we thought would be more apt to really thinking creatively.
What is your vision for how your event will impact the greater Startup Weekend Education community?
A model has not yet been created for getting kids involved at Startup Weekend Education, so we would like to test things out and see what works for both kids and adults. Eventually, I would love to see the educational community outside of Mountain View utilize this model that we create.
Find Out How It Goes
You can get play-by-play updates on Chris’s kid-focused Startup Weekend Education event taking place this weekend by following the action on Twitter.
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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Many of you may have heard about Startup Digest, the region-specific and community-led newsletters highlighting the latest and greatest events and opportunities in your area. However, how many of you also know that Startup Digest has an array of Reading Lists, grouped according to various themes, and curated by experts in the field? Well if you didn’t know, now you do! And in this article, we’re excited to feature the Curators of the Education Reading List, highlighting the latest news and information about startups and innovations in education.
Jessie Arora – Founder TeacherSquare: Connecting educators and edtech
Jessie is focused on improving educational outcomes for all types of learners and empowering educators to play a more active and meaningful role in tech adoption in our schools. She is particularly passionate about cultivating the education startup ecosystem to help create tools and services that improve teaching and learning for all students. As an angel investor she focuses on the K12 education space, applying her experiences from Google, Citizen Schools and the Stanford Graduate School of Ed. She blogs at edcrunch.org and you can follow her @Jessie_Arora.
“I’ve been actively following and sharing what is going on in the edtech world over the past few years, with an emphasis on cool things students and teachers are doing, so helping curate this list was a natural fit.”
Deborah Chang – Educator Entrepreneur
Deborah believes in solving big problems in education through entrepreneurship. She was the Lead Organizer for Startup Weekend Education in New York City, and she currently works as a consultant to early stage education technology companies. Previously, she was a Teach For America teacher at KIPP Academy in Houston and a member of Team Talent Development at Achievement First Network Support in New York. Deborah’s passion for education stems from her belief that all children deserve an excellent education, regardless of their socioeconomic background or zip code. Deborah is a graduate of Princeton University, where she studied education policy at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. You can follow Deborah @Debryc.
“I’ve been passionate about technology that solves problems in education ever since I was a classroom teacher and am now happy to share resources that can help this community of educators and entrepreneurs.”
Sign up for Startup Digest’s Education List today, and be sure to check out the other ones too!
This March, Startup Weekend Education recognizes Jeremy Young as the “Educator of the Month!” Jeremy is one of Startup Weekend Education’s most active members, having already participated in four different events in just this past year alone! He’s pitched a variety of ideas, collaborated with people from around the country, and has continued to grow as an educator and entrepreneur. Jeremy knows that a lot can get done in 54-hours, and him and his teammates have continued to create great innovations at Startup Weekend Education.
Science Superhero is a website for parents to find fun and safe science labs to do with their children.
UberSpace is where I want to send my (hypothetical) kid to high school! The school emphasizes how you work (effectively and joyfully) not what you work on.
GroupUp is a mobile app that allows educators to create seating charts and student groupings on the fly; the first in a set of apps replacing the teacher clipboard. GroupUp won the Clever prize for allowing teachers to import their rosters seamlessly!
DesignED is a professional development series and online curriculum promoting creative confidence in K-12. DesignEd won 3rd Place!
So what does Jeremy do in his day job?
“This is my fifth year teaching high school! I have taught the gamut of sciences from Biology to Chemistry to Physics to AP Computer Science with a few life lessons sprinkled in here and there. I am drawn to entrepreneurship because at its core, it’s about solving problems. As an educator, I often find myself asking questions like: ‘Why have I spent 20 hours this week creating curriculum, when a rockstar teacher down the street must have phenomenal lessons on stoichiometry?’ or ‘How do I choose what is important to teach?’ I am taking next year off to reflect on these questions through an entrepreneurial lens!”
Why does Jeremy keep coming back to Startup Weekend Education?
“I came to Startup Weekend Education to start a company. I stayed for the community. I have met people whom I am proud to call my friends and whom I would be honored to call my co-founders. Startup Weekend Education has loads positive energy. It is inspirational to be part of a group of bright individuals dedicated to solving a problem.”
How has Startup Weekend Education changed Jeremy?
“The first Startup Weekend Education Friday night was a blur. I entered a foreign world of technology and entrepreneurship. New vocabulary included wireframes, bootcamps, and MVPs. By the fourth Startup Weekend Education, I was happy to find several familiar faces. The language felt familiar. I even found myself hacking together a website on Sunday, something I was mesmerized by a year before.”
What People Are Saying About Jeremy?
“I love Jeremy’s infectious sense of humor that permeates any Startup Weekend event in which he participates.” – Brian Greenberg, CEO of Silicon Schools Fund
“Jeremy is a caring educator with a constant focus on incorporating innovative pedagogy and technology into his classrooms in Physics and AP Computer Science. He frequently participates in Startup Weekend Education and other events to work with people in the technology and education community to develop ideas to improve the educational experience for teachers and students alike. We also often have long lunch and dinner conversations about the topic and you can just sense that he is totally into it. I’m honor to have a friend like Jeremy and I’m super excited to continue to watch him pursue his life’s work – education innovation.” – Li Jiang, Investor at GSV
Every month, Startup Weekend Education features an Educator and/or Innovator of the Month! Have someone you’d like to nominate? Email email@example.com with his/her information.