EdSurge Newsletter (click 'display images' in your email client)

edition 152

8 January 2014

Edpunk Underground | Ka'Ching | 2014 Outlooks | He Said, She Said | Jobs

We're jazzed to report that the EdSurge gang is growing! Last year, former teachers Christina Quattrocchi and Mary Jo Madda joined our ranks, along with the talented Tyler McNally. This year, we welcome back Leonard Medlock, who spent six months helping some clever folks lay plans for some new schools in New York City. Gordon Dean has graduated from intern into our full-fledged EdSurge "index master." And a big #hello! to edtechchat wizard, Katrina Stevens. She's based in Baltimore and will help us run a series of edtech Summits starting this year in (yep, you guessed it!) Baltimore on Feb. 22.

We've made our New Year's resolution to do whatever it takes to keep you ahead of the edu-curve. Let us know what trends you want to see us cover closely. We're ready to write.


EDSURGE SUMMIT 2014: BALTIMORE! Where do educators and entrepreneurs meet? On February 22, the answer will be: at the EdSurge Tech For Schools Summit in Baltimore. Edtech companies: You asked us to run this fabulous show again and so we are! A summary is here. Teachers should RSVP here. More details on the event available here. Company applications are due Friday, January 24--apply here. See you in Baltimore!

WANT MORE WOMEN IN TECH? Then fix misperceptions of computer science, says Shuchi Grover, a doctoral candidate at Stanford who focuses on CS education for K-12 students and teachers. "We must make sure all children, especially girls, are aware of exemplary societal uses of CS as a creative and engaging discipline that is applicable to all walks of life," she writes. And Grover shows us what's in her toolkit.

COOL SCHOOL MODEL: Step inside this high school, and you will see Chromebooks, students bloggers, and wind turbine models. Head down the street to the elementary school, and you'll see QR codes with secret messages posted in the halls and a newly remodeled learning labs. Welcome to Milpitas Public School District, which is on the bleeding edge of teacher-driven blended learning innovation. We took a trip down to four schools in the district, and here's what we found.

THE ONES TO WATCH: Forbes recently released its annual "30 Under 30" list in several sectors, including education. Amongst the honorees? A slew of TFA alums, a number of repeats from last year's list, and our own managing editor Tony Wan. Few current teachers and administrators made the cut, and it appears that the industry favored bold changemakers for the honor. Curious to see how the judges selected the group? Click here for an in-depth look.

GRADUATING FROM K12: Ron Packard, CEO and founder of K12 Inc., will be leaving the widely used--if controversial--online school provider after 14 years. But he won't stray too far. Packard will serve as CEO for a new education company that will be co-led by Safanad Limited, a global investment group, and K12 Inc. Everyone's hush-hush about the new venture, but the press release suggests that it will be focused on providing online learning services outside of the U.S. Our brief here.

COMMON RESPONSE: Support for the Common Core is anything but common. But with 45 states onboard, many edtech companies still "align" their products and services with the new standards. EdNET Insight offers five tips for companies concerned about how recent Common Core backlash may affect their branding. Clear communication is key: "A message of solidarity and openness reinforces your role as their [the school's] trusted partner, despite the politics of the current climate."

KNEWTON'S NEW FRIENDS: Knewton, fresh off a big $51M round over the Christmas break, continues to bring its adaptive learning technology to major content providers. The next big publisher partner will be Cengage, which will apply Knewton's predictive analytics to management and sociology content on its MindTap platform beginning in Fall 2015. Knewton has similar deals with Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Macmillan Education.

STARING AT MY SOLE: Black Mountain SOLE, a non-profit startup, raised $5 million in 2013 for the "world's first 'self-organized learning environment'" to help students to engage in experiential learning through peer workshops and MOOCs. The New Republic suggests the experiment "hasn't gone according to plan" in its article, but that's a little misleading: It turns out everyone had different ideas and expectations for the program. The piece looks at the unorthodox day-to-day activities, along with the students who sang its praises, those who left, and the financial issues that beset all young companies.

EASTERN PROMISES: Chinese venture capitalists are increasingly looking to hand out hongbaos to edtech startups, according to Chinese tech blog, TechNode. In an earlier post, TechNode listed 17 Chinese edtech deals from January through July 2013, with the majority focused on language learning and preschool education. You know education is getting hot when a founder of one of China's most popular dating sites is now building an K-12 e-learning platform.

TOP GEAR: The U.S. Department of Education recently announced its next round of Race to the Top funding recipients. Ninety-one million dollars will go to four rural districts in South Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Arkansas, while the Houston Independent School District (the 8th largest) will receive $30 million. This comes at an opportune time as Houston looks to scale its PowerUp one-to-one laptop initiative. Funding will be used for a gaggle of project-based learning and tech-bolstering plans; EdWeek breaks them down here.

BOOO: Even when you offer free education, some people just want more. The Mountain View Voice reports that thieves broke into Khan Academy HQ over the weekend and stole 33 computers. The reported loss is $40,000. One commenter writes: "That's like stealing from all of our children. Shame on you!"


DIGEDU: $2.5 million to Chicago, IL-based digedu in a seed round led by 7wire Ventures' Glen Tullman and Lee Shapiro. Digedu provides a variety of hardware services for schools, including devices, bandwidth solutions, charging stations, well as an online "Learning Engine" platform that allows teachers to design and deliver content and assessments and capture their feedback and results. We chatted with CEO Matt Tullman to get more deets.

SIVI: Oklahoma City, OK-based SIVI has raised $340K in seed funding; i2E OK Angel Sidecar Fund, StartOK Accelerator Fund and two members of SeedStep Angels participated in the round. The company has developed LaunchLeader, a "gamified" e-learning platform designed to help entrepreneurs with running their startups and finding investment opportunities. The pre-launch is set for spring 2014. Check out the press release for more details.

PLANTING SEEDS: There were 115% more seed-stage deals for edtech startups in 2013 than in 2012, according to the latest figures from CB Insights. This increase was accompanied by a 170% uptick in the total dollar value invested in edtech seed deals. These numbers are somewhat consistent with the data provided by NewSchools Venture Fund, which tracked 59 seed deals totaling $64 million in 2013, versus 34 deals totaling roughly $30 million in 2012. Across all industries, CB Insights says "2013 saw the highest amount of seed venture capital deals since 2010."

ADVANCED ACADEMICS: Connections Education, a virtual K-12 school operator owned by Pearson that serves over 100,000 students, has acquired the education products and service assets of Advanced Academics (AAI), an online learning provider that serves over 83,000 students in grades 6-12 at over 170 school districts and charter schools. Financial terms were not disclosed; more details in the press release. AAI was founded in 2000 and since 2007 has been a part of DeVry Education Group.

BLOC: $2 million to SF-based Bloc in a seed round led by Harrison Metal Capital, with Baseline Ventures, First Round Capital and Learn Capital also participating. Founded in 2012, the startup offers online programming courses with personal mentors, starting at $4250. More details about the 12-week program on TechCrunch.


We've got more voices chiming in this week on what 2014 has in store:

And here's our team outlook, where you'll notice we decided to shoot a short video to give our fingers a break from typing. It's got nervous smiles, awkward sound effects, a bit of screaming--but no shortage of enthusiasm and fun. Enjoy!

More 2014 Outlooks from fine folks like Karen Cator, Frank Catalano and Esther Wojcicki are available in our Guide.


SAY WHAT? Education industry veteran and strategist (and EdSurge contributor) Frank Catalano is riled up again about those cloying, meaningless tech terms. His four words to forget in 2014: "open," "MOOC," "cloud" and "high definition." (Don't send him a press release touting these words.) "The good news," Catalano writes, "is that if you can't say something nice in tech, you might as well use one of these phrases. For then you will be saying nothing at all."

THE GREAT HOPE: Inside Higher Ed's Joshua Kim offers his five wishes for edtech vendors in 2014. The is one that we really jive with: having more higher-ed decision makers "insist that edtech vendors get more transparent in their pricing."



DEADLINE JANUARY 15: The REVERE Awards: Don't miss this opportunity to gain recognition and publicity for your educational resources. The new competition, Beyond the Classroom, welcomes materials used outside formal class time. Presented by the Association of American Publishers PreK-12 Learning Group.

DEADLINE JANUARY 15: The Beacon Awards: This anual award recognizes outstanding marketing campaigns for education. Enter today! Presented by the Association of American Publishers PreK-12 Learning Group.


DEADLINE JANUARY 10: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation's Education Program recently issued an open RFP for data visualization pilot projects. Three awards of $25K will be granted to develop a Phase I open source website that can display Open Educational Resources efforts around the world. A follow-on grant/contract for up to $200K will support Phase II efforts. More details in the RFP here.

DEADLINE JANUARY 13: Submit your innovative education business idea today and win $10,000! The Yale School of Management's Education Club is excited to invite you to submit your innovative K-12 education business idea to our 2014 Education Business Plan Competition. Finalists will present their full business plans to a conference of esteemed education reform judges at Yale's SOM Education Leadership Conference on April 4.

DEADLINE JANUARY 15: Applications for the 2014 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition are now open. Over $125K will be awarded this year across five categories, including ideas that meets the needs of special-ed / at-risk students, OER, and online education. Finalists may also be picked to join the Education Design Studio, a new edtech n incubator and seed fund launched this September.

DEADLINE JANUARY 15: This may be up your alley if you like the big stage. EdMix is organizing a pitchfest at what may be the world's largets edtech conference--BETT 2014 in London (Jan. 22-25). Forty-thousand attendees are expected. Six shortlisted startups will get to pitch in front of an audience of fellow entrepreneurs, educators and investors. Over £10,000 in prizes and support are up for grabs.

DEADLINE JANUARY 31: Showcase your startup at the LaunchPad at the 2014 Sloan-C MERLOT Emerging Technologies for Online Learning Symposium (ET4Online) on April 9-11. Those selected will get to attend at the discounted rate of $400, a booth in the Launch Pad area on the conference floor, and enjoy a 90-minute workshop hosted by Learn Capital's Michael Staton. (EdSurge's Tony Wan was there last year; check out his report here.) Applications are free!

DEADLINE FEBRUARY 14: Attention educators! PBS LearningMedia has announced the 2014 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators Program. The program will recognize tech-savvy K-12 educators who are incorporating digital media in classrooms nationwide.

Other opportunities abound--get a head start. See other upcoming deadlines here.


Do what you love; love what you do. Every day we come across new intriguing job opportunities in edtech. Now we've got a place to keep you up to date on the latest and greatest. Check out our fresh edtech jobs board--or read all about it right here. Hiring? C'mon, you know you want to reach a smart EdSurgent! Time to get that listing up!

Hire Education, which specializes in finding great edtech candidates, is sponsoring EdSurge's job section. Write your own ad (but spare us the over-the-top claims, please!) Keep it under 500 characters. Post your jobs here.


EdSurge (yup, THIS EdSurge) is growing! We are on the hunt for a sales person with experience in event sponsorships. Our EdSurge Tech Summits are going nationwide and we are looking for someone to work with our team to expand the impact of our Summit and work with large education and technology companies interested in supporting and participating in these events. Have you sold event sponsorships before? Drop a note to tyler@edsurge.com.

Hire Education has two stellar opportunities with an established K-12 Austin, TX company. We are looking for a Director of Curriculum & Instruction and a VP of Marketing.

NextU is a well-funded startup focused on bringing workplace skills to the global emerging middle class. We are developing the next generation of online education to support this vision, tying the best of instructional design, competency assessment, and analytics with the power of the internet to provide real skills to our students. The Curriculum Director will have full ownership of the instructional design, assessment, and analytics vision and program execution. See here for more info.

Panorama Education is looking for an Operations Manager / Jack of All Trades (Boston, MA) to support outreach, client services, marketing/PR, recruiting, and operations. More than 4,000 schools use Panorama for data analytics and feedback surveys, and our clients include Los Angeles Unified, the State of Massachusetts, Aspire Public Schools, and Teach for America. You'll play a critical role on our growing team--help us improve education for 1 million students and counting. More details here.

Character Lab is a startup on a mission develop, disseminate, and support research based approaches to character development. We are a team of researchers, designers and educators looking for our first develope--someone who wants to design beautiful web-based experiences for students and teachers alike. More details here.

Digital Promise is seeking a STEM Micro-Credentialing Project Manager to help be for help build, manage and propagate the Digital Promise Ecosystem for STEM teacher development. ounded in 2011, Digital Promise is a fast-paced, growing, entrepreneurial organization that values and rewards performance, collaboration and innovation. More info here.

Clever's on a growth streak! Clever now automates SIS integration for over 15,000 schools (including 7 of the 10 largest US districts) and over 100 online learning products. We've got a number of career opportunities in SF for amazing people looking to join our tight-knit team. Openings in Engineering, Product Management, Sales, Support, and Account Management are available. Apply today.

General Assembly is hiring full-stack Ruby on Rails developers to teach our life-changing immersive coding program. We are looking for an instructor to spearhead this transformation through leading General Assembly's Web Development Immersive course. If you are a dev who wants to have impact while also deepening your dev skills and honing leadership skills, then this is for you! Check out the details here.



Right place, right time! L. Wolfe Communications, which drives results for education firms through smart communications and PR outreach, is sponsoring "Out of the Box." Get your event listed here.

For 14 years, education companies have turned to L. Wolfe Communications for high quality, targeted communications, public relations and marketing support. We build creative communications programs by collaborating with clients, particularly those seeking innovative ways to grow and to help learning flourish. Our PR pros are passionate about learning and transforming lives--just like you. --L.Wolfe Communications

Got an upcoming event to share? Spread the word to our global community of entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs and edtech enthusiasts.



Content in Context: Washington, DC. June 2-4. Content is king. And this annual meeting convenes professionals from across the industry to cover exciting technological advances, the business of publishing, policy issues and more. Digital resources, OER, government policies, standards and assessments are just a few of the topics that will be covered. AAP members: register by Feburary 28 to save.


  NEW! Edtech Network SF Meetup: San Francisco, CA. January 9, 3:00 pm PT. The gang at the 20Mission Coworking Space will be hosting this informal edtech mingler on the first Thursday of every month. The format is very laid back: just a gathering of SF's edtechies to network and collaborate. Free!
  NEW! Edtech Pittsburgh Kickoff Meetup: Pittsburgh, PA. January 16, 6:00 pm ET. The goal of this group is to enliven the Pittsburgh edtech community by building and sharing ideas, innovations and technology that will change the face of education in the Pittsburgh region and beyond. If you're excited about the intersection of technology and education, come help us plan what the Ed Tech PGH Meetup can be at the inaugural meetup!
  Digital Harbor Foundation Anniversary Showcase Event: Baltimore, MD. January 16, 6:00 pm ET. January marks one year since the Grant Opening of the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center! To celebrate this amazing milestone, we cordially invite you this evening that will feature a youth showcase, short program recognizing the many who have made it all possible, and a look forward to what the next year will bring.
  NEW! 20 Million Minds--Evolve: CA Higher Education Student Summit: Los Angeles, CA. January 17, 9:00 AM PT. Major stakeholders--faculty, unions, system leaders, policymakers, edtech innovators--have weighed in on the role of online and educational technologies. However, the ever-critical student perspective has largely been absent. Join us as we bring together CCC, CSU, & UC student leaders, state legislators, academia, & edtech experts to hear what students have to say. What's working? What's not? How can we improve? Free to attend!
  NEW! Edtech Rhode Island Meetup: Providence, CA. January 21, 4:00 pm ET. Since 2012 The Highlander Institute has convened educators & entrepreneurs for edtech discussions, feedback & beta testing partnerships. Come meet & mingle with RI educators who are at the forefront of educational innovation! Free for attendees; $25 for companies interested in presenting
  NEW! Seattle Women in Edtech Meetup: Seattle, WA. January 21, 6:00 pm PT. Join other Seattle ladies in edtech to continue conversations and networking about the importance of strengthening women's presence and voice in education technology leadership! Free to attend.
  Gaming in Education: This is Not Your 8-Bit Oregon Trail: New York, NY. January 21, 7:00 pm ET. The NY Edtech Meetup group kicks off the new year with a dive into games in education and the current state of the market. Panelists TBA. $5 gets you in.
  BETT 2014: London, UK. January 22-25. One of the largest edtech extravaganzas in the world takes place in London, where over 35,000 educators and entrepreneurs gather for the annual BETT show. EdSurge CEO Betsy recaps the 2013 event here. In addition to hundreds of speakers, there will also be a startup pitch competition hosted by EdMix. The UK--and Europe at large--are talking big about reforming education using tech tools, and the folks here may just lead that charge.
  Educelerate Chicago: K-12 Teacher Talk: Chicago, IL. January 23, 5:30 pm CT. Windy City's edtech meetup group will forego formal presentations and panelists for an in-person discussion with teachers on issues like: "Why has teaching and learning looked practically the same for the last 150 years?" Free to attend.
  Los Angeles Startup Weekend EDU: Los Angeles, CA. January 24-26. The first ever Startup Weekend EDU in the City of Angels will take place on the weekend of January 24th at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. This 54-hour event is designed to bring together 120 of the most innovative and influential educators, entrepreneurs, designers and developers. It's time to take the spotlight, pool our passions and make a difference. Register early to save.
  EduCon 2.6: Philadelphia, PA. January 24-26. This conference is a standout for educators--which means it should be on the agenda of any entrepreneur who is truly trying to see educator from the other side of the classroom. See how teachers really feel about technology--and why some of last year's attendees thought edtech is not radical enough. Chris Lehman, cofounder of the Science Leadership Academy, leads this meeting, which genuinely aims to be a dialogue, not just the usual stand-and-preach session. Tix go for a very reasonable $150, so make sure this is on your calendar.
  Educelerate Chicago: New from the Field: Chicago, IL. January 29, 12:00 pm CT. Hear about the latest adult learning trends and hot topics from the recent CAEL (Council for Adult and Experiential Learning) and AAACE (American Association for Adult and Continuing Education) conferences. Learn about the latest developments in MOOCs and competency-based learning, among other hot topics.


  LearnLaunch 2014 Conference: Cambridge, MA. February 28-March 1. Beantown's boomin' edtech conference will examine the potential of technology to tangibly improve learning and educational access, as well as explore market and investment opportunities. Over 500 attendees, including entrepreneurs, educators, strategic players, investors and students are expected. Keynote speakers include Chris Dede, the Timothy E. Wirth Professor of Learning Technologies at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. Here's our report from last year. Register by January 15 to save.


Thanks for reading and for sharing! Missed an issue? You can always flip through our site for past stories. And if you want to be part of the classroom chatter, subscribe to EdSurge-Instruct, our Thursday newsletter designed for teachers.

Thanks for reading, and for sharing.
-- The EdSurge team: Betsy, Nick, Agustin, Tony, MJ, Shu, Christina, Tyler, Leonard, Amy, Gordon, Joan, and Matt
EdSurge team

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