A Closer Look

The Problem:

Creative teachers across the country develop outstanding lesson plans—often in isolation. Teachers lack ways to share ideas and create more effective, inspiring lessons based on their collective knowledge and experience, rather than start from scratch each time.

The Innovation:

Frustrated by constantly “reinventing the wheel”, former teacher Alex Grodd founded BetterLesson to provide all teachers access to the best instructional content available. Through its file sharing and social networking application, BetterLesson helps teachers connect and share lessons, best practices, and ideas within communities of practice. BetterLesson differentiates itself through a unique content management system that allows educators to organize and share lessons, units, and courses in an intuitive, sequenced structure. It also provides teachers with recognition for their creative achievements and facilitates collaboration both within and across real-world learning communities.

The Results:

As of January 2012, 93,000 lesson plans were uploaded to BetterLesson, and there were 887,600 downloads of materials from the website. Over 66,000 educators have used the website for lesson sharing and networking, and over 1,700 school districts across the country have turned to BetterLesson to assist their teachers.

How NewSchools Helped:

CEO Alex Grodd has been able to tap into NewSchools’ support for needs such as staff management and effective leadership strategies. NewSchools helped BetterLesson create a board of directors and advisory committee by connecting Grodd with individuals who later became directors or advisors. “The NewSchools portfolio of charter management organizations have been perfect initial customers to test our product and gain traction,” Grodd says. “Their reputation has given us important credibility—especially for a startup. Being ‘backed’ by NewSchools has helped us close deals with KIPP and other customers.”

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