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Real Pain Points, Real Solutions: Oakland Startup Weekend Education

When we met Nina Portugal two weeks ago at a Teach For America information session about Oakland’s first-ever Startup Weekend EDU, she described the specific struggles of her long-term English learner students at Castlemont High School in Oakland. Nina was on the fence about pitching her idea in front of hundreds of strangers, but eventually joined the other 32 brave souls who pitched ideas to improve education. Little did Nina expect that over the course of just 54 hours, her team, Rock Your Voice, would create a product she could put to use on Monday morning in her classroom. Nina now has a voice transcription tool to better assess her students’ language and literacy skills. Read more

EdSurge, connector for Edtech and Educators

This weekend Edsurge will bring its Tech for Schools Summit to Baltimore. Acting Deputy Secretary for the US Department of Education, Jim Shelton, will keynote and 900 educators have signed up to learn about new tech tools and digital content. The Baltimore Summit comes on the heels of the wildly successful EdSurge Silicon Valley Summit which drew 600+ educators. Prior to Silicon Valley, EdSurge hosted similar events in Chicago and Rhode Island. Read more

One Giant Step Forward for Education

Today, the National Education Association, the largest teachers union in the United States and a political powerhouse, announced a partnership with BetterLesson, an edtech company dedicated to sharing teachers’ best practices and curriculum. The result of this union is the Master Teacher Project, a groundbreaking effort to showcase the brilliant minds of our country’s best teachers. The site launched today at http://cc.betterlesson.com/home showcasing 3,000 Common Core aligned lessons from 130 classroom teachers. By […] Read more

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

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