Tag Archives: Imagine K12

ClassDojo

HEDLINE: ClassDojo raised $8.5 million Series A

Abstract

ClassDojo, a platform for real-time behaviour tracking and feedback in the K-12 space raised a $8.5 million Series A led by Shasta Ventures with participation of General Catalyst, SoftTech VC, Yuri Milner, Paul Graham and SV Angel. The round was raised about a year ago.

This round brings the total funding raised by ClassDojo to around $10 million.

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Imagine K12

Imagine K12 graduates 3rd Batch – Application for Winter Cohort Extended

Imagine K12

Last Friday Imagine K12 presented its eleven startups that make up the Summer Cohort of 2012 at a demo day in Palo Alto to investors and the (ed)tech press.

Since its launch in early 2011 Imagine K12 has already build up a nice track record of interesting startups in the K-12 space. Probably even more important for the accelerator that takes about 6% of the companies it accepts in each batch, most of the startups were also interesting to investors.

13 of the 19 startups total that went through the Imagine K12 program collectively raised more than $10 million in funding and their products have been used by 200k teachers and 3 million students. Of course, the moment of truth will come when those startups need to raise their next round in case they will not have managed to be profitable at that point. But that’s another 6 to 12 months down the road.

I won’t go over all of the startups that presented last Friday but concentrate on the ones I find most promising according to their pitch. You can find the complete list over on Imagine K12, of course.

Chalk

Chalk saves educators time from paperwork. Teachers and administrators can distribute documents electronically, fill out forms automatically, and request information and e-signatures. Chalk tracks and stores all responses so users get instant updates on critical documents and never have to worry about lost or misplaced files again.

Tools that help to streamline administration and eventually help to cut down cost are always kind of a safe bet. Name does not match the service, though.

Edcanvas

Edcanvas is redefining presentations in the modern classroom. We are the one place for teachers and students to create, present and share knowledge. Teachers and students can easily create an engaging canvas/presentation by dragging and dropping internet resources from YouTube, Google, etc. and even from their personal Dropbox and Google Drive accounts. These canvases can then be shared and updated throughout the school year. Edcanvas is fun, easy and beautiful!

With interactive whiteboards in the classroom but no compelling apps or software that makes use of them, Edcanvas could be a great tool to make presentations and learning more engaging. Actually everything that kills PowerPoint in the classroom is good. I won’t say that the space is getting crowded just yet, but they’re also not early in the game. Great name.

NoRedInk

NoRedInk is an adaptive learning tool that helps students improve their grammar/writing skills. Our engine generates personalized curriculum from students’ interests and adapts to their abilities with instant feedback, tutorials, and color-coded heat maps. With no marketing, we’re in 4% of U.S. schools. We won NBC’s $75,000 Innovation Challenge in September and have been featured on the TODAY show, Mashable, MSN.com, US News & World Report, and Hack Education. We’re backed by ImagineK12 and led by an English teacher who, after grading 15,000 papers, decided to leverage technology to eliminate “red ink.”

A darling of the (ed)tech press but there seems to be real potential. The early traction amongst schools also shows that the product is actually interesting to the end users. Good name.

Securly

Securly is the first web filter that has been designed from the ground up for schools. It is completely cloud based, takes five minutes to set up per district and costs a fraction of the enterprise solutions that schools are forced to pay for today. We solve the problem of “over blocking” in schools by allowing educators to safely use 21st century instructional tools such as Google, YouTube and Wikipedia in the classroom.

Web filters, privacy and safety are huge topics. A company that can effectively solve these problems should be a winner. Nice name though it’s spelled incorrect, of course.

SmarterCookie

SmarterCookie makes it easy for schools, instructional coaches, and mentors to use video coaching to support their teachers. With a phone, laptop, or camera, teachers record video of a lesson, upload it to the site, and share it privately with their colleagues. Coaches provide time-stamped feedback that is specific and actionable for teachers to implement immediately. It’s effective – every teacher, new and experienced, benefits from frequent coaching – and we handle the complexities of sharing video privately and organizing feedback so that more teachers can reach their potential.

Personal / professional development and coaching are good fields to be in. If the platform offers a really easy and intuitive way this could be a decent business. Needs a better name.

Tioki

Tioki is the online professional network that gives educators access to the most valuable resource out there – other educators! Tioki makes the discovery process easy: Simply tell us who you are and what you’re looking for, and we’ll match you to real educators who can help you get your questions answered and your needs met. But what’s even greater is that with every connection you make on Tioki, your professional network expands, increasing your opportunities for growth and career advancement.

Tioki, the startup formerly known as DemoLesson (Alicia Chang covered DemoLesson for EDUKWEST). Apparently, the founders pivoted the platform from a recruiting service to a professional career network for educators. I liked the idea behind DemoLesson more, to be honest though a vertical career network is of course the bigger idea and DemoLesson could be a feature of it. Don’t get the name at all.

If you want to take part in the upcoming Winter Cohort 2012, Imagine K12 extended the application deadline to Monday, November 5th.

LearningJar

LearningJar: Putting Goal Theory Into Practice For The 21st Century Career Path

The bold, colorful cover of the latest issue of my alma mater’s alumni magazine reads “Welcome to the new career path.” It is illustrated with a curvy trail containing occasional zigzags, twists, and turns. The caption declares emphatically, “Forget a straight line to your dream job.” The metaphor for the 21st century career path is no longer a “ladder,” as Sheryl Sandberg astutely pointed out in her commencement address to Harvard Business School’s newly minted MBAs, but rather, a “jungle gym.”

It’s quite an interesting time to be a recent graduate and jobseeker. The value of formal education is questioned frequently and noisily, while remarkably skilled teens are receiving lucrative job offers. As Ritu Jain learned while co-founding and building LearningJar, today’s self-motivated learners are seeking resources online, but are more interested in acquiring new skills than taking courses. After all, “learning” is certainly not limited to coursework, whether online or offline. But how do we document knowledge gained via informal learning experiences? Traditional portfolios and resumes do not necessarily provide a clear snapshot of one’s abilities, particularly when skills are self-taught or otherwise informally learned.

These questions, along with her own inspiring story of being a lifelong independent experiential learner, paved the way for Ritu to found LearningJar. Winner of SXSWedu and member of the Winter 2012 ImagineK12 cohort, LearningJar provides a platform to bridge the gap between informal learning and documenting progress in new skills. Log in to LearningJar, which recently launched its public beta, indicate what “you want to be (e.g., a web developer),” follow a “learning path” complete with curated tutorials and lessons to learn the skills you need, and complete challenges along the way to show your mastery. New skills are collected in your LearningJar portfolio, and can be shared on your LinkedIn profile.

LearningJar

Still in its early stages, LearningJar shows great promise. With top partners in online learning solutions like AdobeCodeSchool, and Lynda.com, the young company already has a solid foundation and an active, engaged user base. It is crowdsourcing suggestions for new skills and learning paths to add to the site, as well as partnering with new content providers and soliciting feedback from human resources departments.

LearningJar

As Ritu and I have been sharing our own experiences in formal and informal learning, it got me thinking about research in the area of motivation, and specifically, goal theory. According to this theory, motivation to learn is typically broken down into dichotomies. One of the classic examples is the difference between mastery and performance goal orientation. Performance is something that can be readily seen on one’s resume, and can take the form of fancy letters behind your name, or the level of prestige associated with the school you attended (and probably paid a pretty penny for). But beyond a threshold level of achievement (i.e., at least minimal satisfaction of graduation requirements), your diploma and “brand name” do not necessarily illustrate mastery or expertise. While it’s early in the age of blended learning solutions, I am extremely interested in ideas like LearningJar that allow modern professionals to truly show mastery, especially in cases where they are charting new courses in their career path, and showing years of experience or enrolling in additional formal schooling may be impractical. After all, in the motivation literature, intrinsically motivated learners (i.e., those with mastery orientation) are more engaged with their tasks and are more likely to persevere through challenges. Those who are more performance oriented are typically extrinsically motivated, by factors like grades, scores, or ranks. As hiring committees are inundated with applicants, I believe that platforms like LearningJar give opportunities for driven, mastery-oriented individuals to showcase their talents in a way that has not been available before. And when it comes down to it, wouldn’t you rather have a mastery-oriented, intrinsically motivated person on your team?

As college costs soar, and degrees don’t necessarily guarantee jobs, it seems that LearningJar has entered the market at an opportune time. It may be a “jungle gym” out there, but the last time I checked, it’s those unexpected turns and adventures that can be the most rewarding.

What do you want to be? Learn some new skills and demonstrate your mastery on LearningJar.

LearningJar

Educreations

Educreations – the latest (and best) iPad Whiteboard Recording App for iPad

Educreations

You know that I have been a big fan of whiteboard applications for the iPad since I first used ShowMe. And until recently (last week to be precise) ShowMe was my favorite tool to create small video lessons for my audience on Deutsch Happen.

Kay and I also gave ScreenChomp from TechSmith a spin and though the writing seemed to be easier and clearer, the video the app came up with was not as good as compared to ShowMe.

But I am afraid that ShowMe lost me to the latest application on the market namely Educreations. Educreations comes out of the first class of imagine K12 and I have been in contact with Wade Roberts, one of the two founders, for a while now. About two weeks ago I got a beta version of Educreations to give it a try and I have to say that it literally blows the other two apps out of the water.

In a talk Wade explained how much time they spent on getting the writing part of the app right. As this is obviously the main feature of a whiteboard app even small improvements show immediately. Like I said above, the writing on ScreenChomp feels definitely more precise than it does on ShowMe but then Educreations is again a whole different league.

Aside from the various adjustments you can make to the drawing tools the whiteboard is so snappy that it almost feels like writing or drawing on a “real” whiteboard. The digital ink renders basically like real ink on paper. If you draw quicker, the line thins out, if you draw or write more slowly, the ink will render thicker. As handwriting is not a daily habit anymore I think it is incredibly important that this part of a whiteboard app works really well. For me it is the main reason to switch.

But there is more. Another big plus for Educreations is that you can switch between different whiteboards. When I explain grammar topics this is very useful as I don’t need to clean the whiteboard and I can also go back and forth during the recording and explain the topic in more detail. The audio recording of Educreations is also top-notch.

Like ShowMe and ScreenChomp teachers can add photos to the whiteboard from the library on the iPad or by taking a picture. Educreations also connects to Dropbox.

Similar to ShowMe the recordings are hosted on the website of the startup, in this case educreations.com. Teachers can choose to share them privately with their students or publicly with anyone plus they can create student rosters and Q&A for each lesson. The lessons can also be shared via email, Twitter and Facebook or embedded into a blog or website.

But what if you don’t have an iPad? Well, Educreations also offers a web-based version that is compatible with interactive whiteboards or drawing tablets like those from Wacom we covered a couple of weeks ago.

One feature I am going to miss from my experiences with ShowMe is the option to download my recording. As I publish my lessons on YouTube for reach and monetization I currently need to make a screen recording of my Educreations video and then upload it to the Deutsch Happen channel. This might not be a big deal for traditional teachers who are the main target of Educreations, but for the edupreneurs among us it’s a little inconvenient.

Which brings us to the business model. Like ShowMe and ScreenChomp Educreations is free to use. There are no ads or other strings attached. Tim Brady, founding partner at imagine K12 and I talked about the freemium model during our EDUKWEST (you can watch this part of our talk here) so I am sure that as soon as Educreations will have reached a critical number of users we will see some premium features like download of videos etc.

Bottom line: Educreations is currently the best whiteboard app on the iPad and probably on the web. You can download Educreations on iTunes or if you don’t want to join the cult of iPad owners, go ahead and get one of those Wacom digital tablets and  use the app in the browers, I am sure you will love it.

And of course I am looking forward to the answers ShowMe and TechSmith will give now that there is a new cat in the iTunes App Store.

educreations Website: http://educreations.com
iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/educreations-interactive-whiteboard/id478617061
Facebook: http://facebook.com/educreations
Twitter: @educreations
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Tim Brady explains Why Freemium is an Opportunity for Education Startups in K12

Transcript:

That’s one of the opportunities. That’s one of the things that’s changed. So teachers for the most part are … there is a lot of inefficiencies in their day, so saving them time is something they want, right. You hear these horror stories of teachers staying up all night to do a lesson plan and some soemthing like BetterLesson comes along and helps them save time. Of course they gonna want to adopt something like that. That’s just one example, I think there are hundreds of examples out there.

So by offering that and offering that for free, because again teachers really don’t have purchasing power. But they want to save time and everyone moving into the profession are almost by definition tech-savvy, so are fine at going online, downloading something and using that to their benefit. And once there are enough teachers in the school or in the district, the up-sell becomes easier.

And even the superintendents we talked to are being very excited about that because they usually say:” I sit and I listen to these sales pitches and try to imagine what the teachers want and then I have to go and convince the teachers to use it and push it down.” Superintendants are very excited when a bunch of teachers say:” Hey, we are all using this product. Can you buy this additional feature?” It actually makes it easier for the superintendent as well.

It’s an opportunity, it is certainly not the only business model out there but it’s something that has changed with the ubiquity of connectivity.

Tim Brady imagine K12

Tim Brady

 

Watch the entire interview: EDUKWEST #75 with Tim Brady of imagine K12

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EDUKWEST #80 with Brett Kopf of remind101

Brett Kopf

Brett Kopf

By the time I sat with Brett Kopf, Co-founder at remind101, for an EDUKWEST interview I already knew that text messaging between teachers and students/parents in an educational scenario had become increasingly popular and that a few startups were working around more or less the same idea: providing teachers with a low tech yet ubiquitous and easy way to keep in touch with their class outside of school.

This might happen in the way of reminding them once again on an upcoming test or what they should prepare for the next lesson.

At the beginning, Brett and I talk about remind101 as part of the first class of Imagine K12 incubator and what influence this summer program had on the business idea and their startup in general.

Considering that for us in the tech or edtech bubble, we think of smartphones or tablets and always concentrate on the next exiting new technology to use in an educational context, we may sometimes forget what the masses still see as the state of technology and what they use on a daily basis.

When we look at education from that angle we can understand better why text messaging might be an interesting way for teachers to engage further with students and also parents.

Working with student information is always a data sensitive subject, so it’s an important feature that all data on remind101 is anonymized meaning that there is full security at both ends.

remind101 is currently open and free to use to all educators in the United States and Canada.

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Audio only:

EDUKWEST #80 with Brett Kopf of remind101

Additional Links:

Homepage: http://remind101.com
remind101 on Twitter: @remind101
remind101 on Facebook: http://facebook.com/remind101
Brett on LinkedIn: Brett Kopf
Play
tim brady imagine k12

EDUKWEST #75 with Tim Brady of imagine K12

Tim Brady imagine K12

The EDUKWEST interview series has made it to 75 episodes!

It had all started as a partly selfish endeavour as I had the chance to talk and foremost learn from a group pf great entrepreneurs and inspiring people in the field of education, and I’m sure that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet and exchange with a good number of them without EDUKWEST. However, due to your responses, the comments I get either privately or on the blog, I believe that EDUKWEST has allowed many more people this get an overview what education and learning 2.0 are and what they might evolve into.

Talking about new ideas and the evolution of the education system, change is inconceivable without the work and programs of the incubators and accelerators dedicated to the field of education.

Therefore, I sat down (virtually) with Tim Brady, founding partner of imagine K12 for this special episode. imagine K12 is one of the very few incubators dedicated to education, more precisely to the K-12 space, and they graduated their first class of 10 startups this summer. On a side-note, I’ll invite the participants of this first program for individual interviews starting tomorrow.

Tim was Yahoo’s employee number 3 after the two founders Jerry Jang and David Filo and has worked at the company for over eight years in several positions, the last as Chief Product Officer. Prior to imagine K12 Tim was CEO at Questbridge, a startup that helps bright low-income students to gain admissions and financial aid for college.

All three founders have also a technical background, so it is not surprising that at imagine K12 they put engineering talent in the focus of the program. Moreover, he explains on how the selection process is actually happening and how the make their decision who to invite for a class. I think, this part brings a lot of valuable information for those amongst you who want to apply for an incubator or who have done already and made their first experiences. As I’m frequently asked which programs I would recommend and could make introductions to, this was definitely a point I wanted to cover in the interview.

The second big string of this talk is how a person with a background and successful career in the tech and Internet space but without a classic educational background see education (I see some parallels here). I believe, this is of great value to the whole industry as we need fresh ideas of highly trained people who might bring new and valuable opinions and perspectives to the table.

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TeachStreet - Learn Something NewThis Interview is presented by TeachStreet – Learn Something New

Audio only:

EDUKWEST #75 with Tim Brady of imagine K12

Additional Links:

Homepage: http://imagineK12.com
imagine K12 on Twitter: @imagineK12
Application for Winter 2012: imagine K12 Winter 2012
Tim on LinkedIn: Tim Brady
Play
ah-091611

After Hours #1 – September 16th 2011

after hours edukwest

News in education 2.0 that EDUKWEST did not cover this week in a separate blog post.

  • Giana Bianchini launches new startup Mightybell
  • Magoosh launches video library for revised GRE
  • PlaySay launches Facebook application for language learning
  • Imagine K12 graduates first class of 10 education startups
  • Mozilla launched Open Badges Program
  • McGraw-Hill seperates into McGraw-Hill Markets and McGraw-Hill Education
  • TopicMarks launches Google Docs integration
  • Pearson acquires Connections Education
  • YongoPal turns into Wander
  • TenMarks raises $3 million
Music by: Web Surfing on the Lounge by Scomber
Picture by: Guidoblock