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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

Startups Should Prioritize Sustainability over Fundraising

Startup guru and author of The Startup Owner’s Manual, Steve Blank wrote a great blog post this week on raising money titled “Fund raising is a means not an end” and I couldn’t agree more. I worry about this increased focus on raising money over building a sustainable business – for both for-profits and not for profits. The education-oriented endeavors are particularly at risk due to less scrutiny of their business models […] Read more

Innovators in Education

After 15 years of working to improve education by supporting and enabling the ideas and efforts of passionate innovators, instead of looking back, NewSchools Venture Fund is looking 15 years further down the road. We believe that looking toward the future is key to preparing for it. We also believe that the best way to understand the future is to listen to those creating it. Hear from NewSchools entrepreneurs about the challenges facing education, the solutions they are creating and the visions of the future informing and driving their work forward. Read more

Live from Summit 2013– Hour of Power One

Welcome to Summit 2013′s first Hour of Power networking session. As conference participants power network over a cup of coffee sharing business cards and discussing the ideas of “frustrated optimist” Thomas Friedman, we were privileged to visit with some of the innovative individuals, organizations and companies helping to usher in the next generation of education technology.Combining gaming with instruction, Sifteo provides a portable platform – the Sifteo cube – and new hands-on […] Read more

Please Touch the Technology

Some innovations just don’t make sense until you actually get your hands on them: Fun dip. Silly putty. Education technology. For this reason, Summit 2013 features 21 different education technology companies and their tools in one room on tablets, phones, laptops, and desktops. Participants can walk around the interactive exhibit, which we designed to mimic an expository museum aesthetic rather than a trade show, and play with digital content, tools, and platforms. The […] Read more

Seed Fund Investing Values

When Wayee and I launched this Seed Fund in late 2011, we started with this set of investment principles to guide our evaluation process though realizing that every company is unique and early stage investing is not a precise science. I’d like to share these principles in an effort to make the investing process more open and transparent. Read more