Editor’s Note: This post was written by Steven Wellvang, co-founder of Educelerate North. You can follow us on Twitter @Educelerate.
This year Educelerate returned to SXSWedu for another 3 & ½ days of engaging conversations and daily agendas packed with summits, policy forums, keynotes, panels, presentations, films and even an edu playground demoing new classroom innovations. One of the biggest hits again this year was Launchedu —which showcased what is next and new in the education marketplace.
Over 100 startups competed for several months to get to the final 10, which were whittled down to 3 finalists after presenting to a stellar group of judges.
The top 3 finalists were:
Will putting more videos in the classroom stimulate student engagement and enhance deeper learning? Zaption thinks it will, though the founder acknowledge its product is in an “emerging market”. Founded by a father-son team (one a college researcher and the other a college dropout), Zaption strives to turn passive classrooms into active centers of learning through the use of interactive videos. Zaption enables teachers to find video content from outside sources (such as Khan Academy), customize and annotate the content with notes and questions, share the modified content with students, and finally track and analyze usage and understanding. Still in the early stages of engagement with teachers and schools, Zaption is already gaining considerable traction with about 150,000 users and backing from New Schools Venture Fund.
Pear Deck is also addressing the “active classroom” market—but from a different technological angle. Pear Deck’s application runs on iPads and permits teachers to stay constantly connected with each student throughout the class period. Rather than relying on “passive learning” through lectures and individual student oral answers, Pear Deck’s technology uses Google Drive to engage each student individually through his/her own iPad. Pear Deck, the second company founded by a team from Iowa City, hopes to distinguish itself from the 20-odd competitors through ease of usage and enhanced collaboration features between the teacher and students. Pear Deck has over 100,000 users and 80 school contracts.
IDEASBOX from Libraries without Borders of Paris, France, provides portable media centers—complete with tablets, power sources, Internet connectivity and education materials—anywhere in the world. The initial focus has been on supplying its portable media centers to refugees in countries such as Burundi, but hopes to expand to other developing areas around the world. The boxes cost $60K each, and IDEASBOX is currently exploring ways to find the right partnering relationship and revenue model to permit expansion and sustainability.
And later in the evening, it was announced that Zaption had won! Putting to use their core content notation skills (and a trusty sharpie), they immediately set to work super-sizing their $2,500 prize with three more zeros!
Note: Still at SXSWedu? Come by to hear our founder Christopher Nyren debate Matt Greenfield of Rethink Education on Degrees vs. Micro-Certifications at 10:30am in Salon D of the Austin Hilton.