Tag Archives: featured ed effort

Ed Efforts We Admire: 4.0 Schools

4point0-blogInnovation is in the air in New Orleans. Eight years out from Hurricane Katrina, the city has begun in many ways to redefine itself, with the storm “[kickstarting] an age of innovation and an economic renaissance in a city written off for dead.” Though entrepreneurial efforts span industries, education is a major focus. Katrina and its aftereffects incited a community-wide effort to enact positive change in New Orleans’ already-struggling schools.

One of the organizations dedicated to encouraging edtech innovation both in New Orleans and beyond is 4.0 Schools, an early-stage incubator that brings together teachers, entrepreneurs, and technologists looking to create lasting change. Rather than focus on temporary band-aid solutions for deep-rooted problems, 4.0 Schools launches “relevant solutions that redefine how we teach and learn.” The organization, which facilitates public events like hackathons and pitch competitions as well as intensive programs for aspiring entrepreneurs (it has launched 23 ventures to date) is in the process of expanding to New York.

Says CEO Matt Candler, “At 4.0, people matter more than ideas. We aren’t sure what the future of education will look like, but through the entrepreneurs in our community we are learning more and more about those with the most potential to define it.”

Featured Ed Effort: NYEdTech Meetup

ny edtechEver since Knewton moved to a new office last summer, we’ve hosted a ton of meetups. One of our favorites has been the NYEdTech meetup, which focuses on the opportunities and challenges of education technology, and how tech can be used responsibly to help students learn. NYEdTech holds monthly meetups and has nearly 2,500 members. Recent events include “Mobiletime, and livin’ is easy” and “Here a MOOC, there a MOOC, everywhere a MOOC MOOC” (did we mention that they’re good with titles, too?).

Says organizer Adam Aronson, “The NY edtech community has been developing innovative solutions covering a wide swath of the educational spectrum; products range from encouraging early childhood reading like Biblionasium to extending computer hardware investments with Neverware. Our mission is to bolster the edtech industry while building a vibrant and collaborative social entrepreneurship movement.”

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Featured Ed Effort: Codecademy

The world needs more programmers. In the U.S. alone, demand for software developers is expected to increase 30% by 2020 — way above the average for other jobs. Codecademy hopes to help fill this need by providing a fun, accessible, engaging, and free way for anyone to learn how to code. Students can engage with the Codecademy community as they build interactive websites, games, and apps using newfound skills in web fundamentals and programming languages like HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Python, and Ruby.

Says Founder and CEO Zach Sims, “Programming makes us think in new and different ways. We love exposing people to programming in an easy, fun, community-oriented environment.”

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Featured Ed Effort: Clayton Christensen Institute

Teachers and students are education’s primary stakeholders. But the education ecosystem also includes policymakers, administrators, innovators, and many other voices.

At a time of great change for the industry, and with so many interests at play, it’s crucial that there are thought leaders helping to frame conversation and inform action. The Clayton Christensen Institute (formerly the Innosight Institute) is among the most prominent of these leaders. A nonprofit, nonpartisan think-tank, the Institute was founded on the theories of Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen, the father of “disruptive innovation” theory.

According to the Institute, the “theory of disruptive innovation describes a process by which a product or service transforms an existing market by introducing simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and affordability.” As the internet transforms education in this way, the Clayton Christensen Institute’s original research and publications provide a framework to help everyone better understand the effects of this ongoing revolution.

Says Michael Horn, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Education, “We have a really unique window right now with online learning disrupting traditional education to create a student-centric education system that personalizes and optimizes learning for each student. Our hope is to shape that conversation and keep people focused on the ultimate prize: improving students’ lives.”

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Featured Ed Effort: Neverware

The edtech industry is growing rapidly, with more and more startups aimed at creating apps and software to improve educational experiences for students. But for schools with outdated, slow computers and no budget to replace them, all the software in the world won’t make a bit of difference.

Enter Neverware. Neverware’s mission is to make old computers in schools run like new. How? For every school, Neverware installs a single proprietary “Juicebox” server on the school’s network, which serves as the brains of the entire computer system. Individual computers then become “dumb terminals” of that server — meaning that it no longer matters if the computers in the school were a decade old with defunct hard drives. With the Juicebox, all of the existing computers in a school can run programs reliably and at fast speeds, as if they were brand new computers.

Neverware is affordable, too. Schools pay a small subscription fee that covers maintenance, hardware, and installation. Says Jonathan Hefter, Neverware Founder and CEO, “Educators want to focus on delivering education, not maintaining computer systems. With the Neverware service, all of a school’s existing computers reliably run like new, allowing teachers to get back to teaching.”