Tech startups are creating buzz in transportation, gaming, healthcare, and telecommunications sectors. Everybody knows this. What people may not realize is that technology has a huge impact on the educational space as well. In the first quarter of 2017, ed tech startups already closed over 130 funding deals, making it the highest quarterly deal count for this industry in over a year as CB Insights report. In general, EdTech spend is expected to reach $252 billion by 2020 according to a joint report from EdTechXGlobal and IBIS Capital.
There’s a good reason for such massive growth. Learning models have hardly evolved for the past 150 years, especially in K12 education. We still see a teacher explaining a concept to the class sitting behind desks with most materials being printed textbooks. Yet, modern students are not quite like their peers 150 years ago. They are among the first truly digital generation and they expect the technology to be present in the classroom as well. Next, digital skills are now in demand with over two million digital jobs expected to appear in the UK alone by 2020.
The following six startups are already addressing the changing educational landscape. They’re creating ripples and truly disrupting this industry with new solutions.
Nerdify is, at its core, a personal assistant app. The difference is that the founders of Nerdify have identified college students as their target market. Here, all the assigned assistants are referred to as ‘nerds’. You can get in touch with one via FB messenger or a quick text to explain what you need. Students submit whatever request they may have – whether it is just to order a book, get a quick answer to the academic question or get help with more complex tasks
After the request is submitted, Nerdify will match you with the ideal nerd for the job. The company lets students know what their nerd can do for them, and how much it will cost.
The topic of literacy is very important to educators. What people may not realize is that it’s a complex issue that goes far beyond whether or not students can read. These days, to be considered truly literate, students must know how to discern facts from opinion, and how to analyze what they read to draw conclusions. Newsela is on the cutting of helping educators create truly literate students.
They do this by partnering with school districts and providing teachers with grade appropriate, carefully curated articles. This includes current events, technology, and more. Students simply work through the content, then take the assessment provided by Newsela.
Teachers Pay Teachers is an online community and marketplace created solely for educators. It is a place where teachers can share ideas with one another, and even sell educational resources that they have created.
According to the website, participating teachers have earned more than 300 million dollars selling items through TPT.
Good educators know the value of peer assessments and reviews. Unfortunately, the old method of having students pass their work to one another is a bit haphazard. It’s also difficult for instructors to get good insights. After all, how much can you learn about a student’s progress when they are likely passing their work to someone who is familiar to them?
PeerGrade cuts through all of this by implementing a proven system that allows students to assess one another’s work, and also provides useful feedback to the instructor. It works quite simply. The instructor creates the assignment. The students complete it, and upload it. PeerGrade works for documents, videos, and other content. Finally, PeerGrade distributes the finished assignments for assessment. When the assessments are finished, the instructor receives a final report.
In a business, corporate culture is extremely important. It impacts morale, and customers’ perception of the company. When culture is good, people feel respected, that their needs are being met, and that they are heard. This applies to everyone including customers.
Likewise, classroom culture matters as well. The ideal classroom culture encourages communication, ensures that everyone is treated with respect, and provides a safe place for learning. Class Dojo is a platform that uses a variety of tools to help students, parents, and teachers create positive and supportive learning communities.
Managing communications between teachers, students, and parents can be difficult. Putting notes into backpacks and hoping they make it home has been proven to be a failed experiment. Virtual backpacks or other solutions that store communications online aren’t very effective either. Parents and students still have to remember to go look for information. Teachers have to remember to keep things updated.
Remind is a communications tool that is safe, secure, and works in real time. Without exchanging phone numbers, Remind gives teachers, students, and parents a way to ‘text’ one another in real time. This can be used for assignment reminders, for students to ask teachers questions after hours, and to keep the communication flowing between parents and instructors.
Economics, politics, and a variety of other factors impact what goes on in the classroom. It will be interesting to see where these six up-and-comers are at a year from now.
Read more about budding startups here on Tech.Co
Photo: Flickr/Abhishek Baxi