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A closer look at K12 edtech venture funding in 2013

Venture investment in K12 education technology was up 6% in 2013 totaling $452 million.  Over half of these investments were seed stage transactions mirroring the overall venture trend of increased financing from non-traditional sources (angels, super angels, micro-VC’s, incubators) at the seed stage.  The NewSchools Seed Fund led and/or participated in nearly a quarter of the 59 K12 edtech seed investments in 2013.  Here we share our 2013 analysis of K12 edtech […] Read more

ReimaginED: The Future of K12 Education

(link) From TED talk playlists to government speeches, everyone agrees: education is changing. Exactly how, why, or what it all means is still up for debate. Are the low United States PISA scores a sign of stagnation or creativity? Does technology replace or enhance face to face interaction? Are we trying to teach skills, concepts, or learning mindsets? At NewSchools Venture Fund, we’d like to set the stage differently, in the context of the ground up innovation already happening. While some see the systemic challenges […] Read more

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