Imagine

Imagine

Imagine K-12 is a small organization that works with budding edtech companies as they prepare for their initial introductions to the public. These companies go through startup boot camp, Imagine K-12 staff supporting and encouraging them along the way, and this culminates in a Friday afternoon pitch and Q & A to a room full of teachers. The idea is that the teachers will ultimately be the users and rather than wait for the products to be fully developed, the companies can gather feedback from users and rapidly prototype solutions.

I have been attending this event for some time. In fact, I believe I have been to all 4 events that have been held so far. I am proud to say that I was one of the initial users of educreations, a company that is now solidly established with a large community of teachers and classrooms creating and sharing video lessons daily. And this is just one of many create ideas that have gotten their start at Educator Day and who have benefited from establishing symbiotic relationships with their end-users, interested and resourceful teachers.

For this post I would like to share a few of the ideas that blew me away last week. There were a total of 9 companies that presented; all of them have interesting features to contribute to the edtech space.

 

Plickers

 

In all of my time in attendance, I don’t this I have ever heard the kind of crowd response that plickers received. This team is clearly led by a former teacher, as the problem of practice was relevant and authentic. The concept is that clickers, little devices that allow teachers to quickly poll their students, are great pedagogically but cumbersome technologically. Plickers uses simply code recognition to create an app (currently on available on android) that can read and compute little codes your students hold up. So instead of having to charge, and hand out little devices, you simply hand out pieces of paper. This is a brilliant solution for schools with limited to no technology, and students who don’t all have smart devices, i.e. most urban schools. Lastly, the founders are working on some back end aspects of the system, such that it could tally your student’s responses over time and enable authentic real-time data collection. If you believe that this is valuable, contact the founders@plickers.com.

And become a part of the prototyping process.

 

Learn.ly

 

The second product that caught my eye is learn.ly. For as long as I can remember teachers have always been talking about revising written work. They spend hours providing feedback, both about the overall ideas and about specific sentences. At Envision Schools we are very committed to revision and for our portfolio artifacts teachers and students use the shared doc capabilities of google docs to provide and respond to feedback in the form of comments. Where learn.ly takes it to the next level is by allowing teachers to leave audio feedback in specific locations in the document. Firstly, leaving audio comments will save teachers time which is a huge motivator. Secondly, there are many students who will be able to access audio comments with higher success than written comments. Specifically, students with dyslexia who use assistive software to write, such as Dragon Dictate or Co:Writer and English Language Learners who are developing an ear for their new language.

 

Opus

 

Honorable mention goes to opus, a website for generating math worksheets that are common core aligned, that can increase in difficulty and complexity, and that keeps track of which problems you like and recommends these to your friends.

 

Tinkertags

 

And Tinkertags offers students the opportunity to customize their sneakers with LED’s and introduces them to computer programming by being able to adjust the light’s patterns and colors. This product was developed to bring initial Computer Science concepts to students who are typically excluded thus attempting to diversify the field. My only feedback is that while the presentation used high school students as examples of the target population, my instinct is that this product would more likely appeal to a younger crowd.

 

I encourage my readers to check out the Imagine k-12 website for a comprehensive list of the remaining companies, as well as past companies.

Written by Kiera Chase

Kiera Chase

Blended Learning Coach at Envisions Schools

6 comments

  1. We’re so glad you’re involved @kierachase RT @blndmylearning: @kierachase shares her favorite ideas from @imaginek12 http://t.co/i7Cdlb9cZM

  2. Imagine http://t.co/F7B14w1SXT via @blndmylearning @imaginek12

  3. Greg Klein

    Kiera, those were exactly the new companies that stood out for me as well. I heard the premise of Plickers about 10 minutes before the evening got started and thought to myself, “Huh?” And then you see it and it’s one of those too-good-to-be-true tools. Companies who put the teacher and student perspective at the core of their design seem to me the most likely to succeed.

  4. Greg, I couldn’t agree more. In all of my visits to Imagine K-12 Educator day the companies that have stood out, and the ones I still use today, have not only been ones that put students and teachers at the core of their design, but usually companies that have an educator at the helm. I have been thinking a lot lately about how this all works. Why is it that a teacher has to leave teaching (boo) in order to make the tools that would make teacher more sustainable (yeah) but its already too later for them. Not that all teachers leave to become entrepreneurs because they are burned out!
    I wish there were a way to do a mash-up. In my dream world the programmers would be in the room next door to my classroom and they would come in and prototype something with me and the students, and we would give our feedback. Then we would work on it. I would provide the architecture, some design, maybe learn a little programming from them. They would provide the syntax, the program, maybe learn a little educationese from me. And the best part if this dream is that students are participants in an authentic design cycle. What an amazing growth and learning experience. Ahh if only.

  5. Thanks for the mention, Kiera! Enjoyed chatting with you at Ed Day. If there were an ed tech room next to your classroom, I don’t think you’d have too much trouble filling it with entrepreneurs :)

  6. Kiera,

    I am a student at the University of South Alabama, currently taking a course called EDM 310 which allows me to explore the expanding resources for educators. The fact that you were able to attend these sessions is amazing. I love that you were able to take a look into some of the possible concepts that may be helpful someday if they land on the market. In some of my classes we use a clicker, and this semester seems to be nothing but trouble with these things. This being said, I was very interested in Plinkers. I am a strong believer in saying that when technology is good, it’s great; when it is down it is just a pain in the neck! Granted some of these things cannot always be prevented, but better technology is always being sought out. I cannot imagine what someone will come up with next, but we may all benefit from them some day. Please feel free to email me here, as I would love to here more about some of the products you experienced that may be most beneficial in the future.

    Leah

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