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The NewSchools Notebook: tech, teaching, and inspiration

At NewSchools, we are constantly being exposed to new ideas in education from a variety of sources. Given that we invest in technologies that spread knowledge and education to all, I wanted to start a blog series passing on some of the quotes and intellectual nuggets I encounter to the world. Big Ideas from the week: Education technology is not a zero sum game. When movies came out, live theater attendance did […] Read more

“Read, Write, Code” say CodeHS founders and winners of NBC Innovation challenge

In my last year at Stanford I took a class that made me wish I could start all over called CS 106a, Programming Methodology. I learned to code by guiding a robot icon through a grid, and eventually I programmed basic games like hangman and breakout (we even made a rudimentary social network!). I have two main takeaways from the course:  1. I gained a new understanding of the logic behind machines, […] Read more

Helping Children Cope with Technological Change

A recently posted video of a four-year old’s tearful reaction to his father’s upgrade to Apple iOS 7 serves as a reminder that software innovation can affect children psychologically. The 17-second clip leaves much unaddressed: What about the new operating system made it “different” instead of “better”? Could the father have anticipated such a reaction by preparing his son with the ageless wisdom that “nothing is forever”? Or was he too busy […] Read more

Beyond Data to Insights and Action

“Big Data” has become a buzzword within edtech circles and learning analytics is a Top Edtech Trend driven in part by increased accountability. However, the overwhelming amount of education data can often be inaccessible to those that need it most, educators and school leaders. This may be the reason that only 50% of administrators surveyed by the Center for Digital Education see improved student outcomes from the use of big data. Read more

Book Smarts vs Street Smarts: aka Edtech Founders as Action Researchers

Last week I was in Boston visiting two of our portfolio companies, BetterLesson and Socrative. Spending time with entrepreneurs is, by far, the best part of my job. I’m always moved by the passion of our entrepreneurs. As always, Ben Berte (Socrative) and Alex Grodd (BetterLesson) left me inspired by their commitment to supporting teachers. However, in this visit, I took away a new appreciation for how technology products are moving beyond just teacher productivity and into deeper issues of instruction and teacher learning. Read more

Announcing Readworks.org: The Best Kept Secret in Reading Comprehension

We are thrilled to welcome Readworks.org to the Seed Fund portfolio. It’s a humble and hardworking nonprofit, with a maniacal focus on quality. They’ve mostly flown under the radar since their founding in 2010, spending zero dollars on marketing. Even so, they’ve grown organically through teacher word of mouth resulting in 3 million reading lessons downloaded and 270 websites linked to their materials. Read more

Curriculum, the Trojan Horse of School Reform

As a country, we’ve vastly under-appreciated the importance of high-quality content as a key lever to improve teaching and learning. One of my mentors Dr. Denise Pope, lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Education, calls curriculum the “Trojan horse of school reform.” I believe this to be true, now more than ever. The conditions are ripe for a curriculum revolution that has the potential to both improve student achievement and support great teaching.* Read more

Alive in the Swamp

Sir Michael Barber, Michael Fullan and Katelyn Donnelly discus education reform and the impact of learning technologies. They also discuss “Alive in the Swamp: assessing digital innovations in education”, which offers practical advice on how to navigate through digital innovations in education, and suggests where more innovation effort is needed. Read more

K-12 Ed Tech Market Map Refresh

NewSchools is releasing an update to the K-12 Ed Tech Market Map, once again created in collaboration with Education Elements and the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. This update includes about 50 new companies added, a graphic design refresh (the larger the circle, the more companies in that space!), and revised categorizations in Data and Talent Management. We listened to those of you who emailed us feedback (thanks!) and hope you’ll find your suggestions reflected in the update. Read more