Pearson Supports Startup Land, Partners With DC’s 1776

1776, Pearson, DC, DC startups, EdTechIt is no secret that education in this country is in a state of flux. Scores are low, dropout rates are high, and standards are constantly being changed. There’s constant discussion about what education should even mean in this century. More and more people are homeschooling, not out of religious belief but simply to bring sanity to their children’s education.

Pearson is a big name in education. They produce many of the textbooks and mulitmedia materials used in our schools. The company has been publishing educational materials for more than 100 years. 100+ year old companies aren’t typically the first ones to jump on the startup bandwagon, but Pearson is leading the way.

pearson1Yesterday, they announced a partnership with DC incubator 1776. Through the partnership, Pearson will support and collaborate with edtech startups associated with 1776.

In a statement, 1776’s Evan Burfield said:

America’s education system is at a crossroads and a forward-thinking approach is needed to solve many challenges. Pearson is using technology to invent new ways of learning; and by working with organizations like 1776 and our startups, Pearson’s experts not only provide insights around data and technical integration strategies, they can advise startups on effectively penetrating and scaling in the education market.

Edtech is a rocky field, at best. With perhaps thousands of individual school systems across the country, mass adoption can be difficult. Each system has its own way of deciding which tools to use, teachers are often worn out with all the new systems to learn, and there’s always something new to consider. The one thing every edtech startup can guarantee: schools have no money.

Bureaucracy within the school systems rivals only the bureaucracy found in Washington, DC. That makes 1776, located in the heart of the capital, the perfect place to incubate. The folks in and around the campus know about bureaucracy, and they specialize in startups that may have institutional difficulties: energy, healthcare, government, and education.

This isn’t Pearson’s first dip in the startup pool, though. They’ve already partnered with 1776 to identify good candidates for their own accelerator, Pearson Catalyst. With their experience in education and 1776’s experience in startups, there’s a good chance we could see some great things happen in edtech.

1776 hosted the National Accelerator Demo Day earlier this month.

EECincyBanner

DC Startup yourClass A Market Place Offering Free Live Classes

yourClass, DC startup,startup,startup interview, EdTechOnline education is broken. Or so says Jacob Ruytenbeek, CEO and co-founder of DC startup yourClass.

Online education has plenty of faults. For starters, although technology is vital to education, in most cases education is the last segment to benefit from changes in technology. Consider this: while there are a lot of startups tackling online education and online learning, most of them are doing it with video courses which are “so 2000s,” Ruytenbeek told us in an interview.

yourClass is connecting real teachers with real learners in a virtual classroom setting. This isn’t new, but what sets them apart is the fact that it’s free for the first 50 live students. The classes are given live and then archived for those that can’t participate during the live date. Students can purchase the archived classes, which is where the revenue comes into play.

The other thing that sets yourClass apart from similar startups is the social component. Student profiles highlight the students social networks where students can get to know each other and collaborate well beyond the live class.

Check out our discussion with Ruytenbeek below.

 

NIBV2VWhat is your startup called?

yourClass  

What does your company do?

We are a marketplace for live online classes.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

Paul Flynn (Chief Technology Officer) brings his knowledge as an eBay engineer with experience in U/I and marketplace design.

Matt Stock (Chief Learning Officer) is a renowned photographer, educator, and TEDx Coconut Grove speaker. He’s a former University of Miami MD student who decided to follow his passion into photography and teaching rather than continuing medical school to become a doctor.

Jacob Ruytenbeek (Chief Executive Officer) is an attorney who started two previous micro-startups including PaperChace and YachtBlogs Network. He’s a 2009 graduate of the Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management.

Where are you based?

Reston, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C.

What’s the startup scene like where you are based?

The #DCTech scene is incredible and supportive. We’re surrounded by tech like the huge AOL campus which is about 10 minutes away and comScore, which is located about 2 minutes away. At the same time, we have access to the downtown DC tech scene with places like 1776, the DC Economic Partnership, and a host of other accelerators for startups. People are approachable, mellow, and looking to help each other out.

What problem do you solve?

Let’s face it: Education is broken. Institutions capture much of the value that teachers create in the classroom; the cost of education restricts access to those who need it most; present e-learning solutions are mediocre at best; and MOOC’s are just the internet’s version of overcrowded classrooms. On top of it all, the virtual classroom is stale and boring. Everyone hates them.

Why now?

Education is ripe for disruption. The problem is humongous and growing by the day. Competitors like MOOCs are not sustainable since they don’t fix many of the underlying systemic issues with online education like we do. We need to change it and we can’t wait – so the real question is why not now?

How it works (more detail)

We fix education by creating a marketplace for learning where anyone can take or teach a class on almost any topic. We do it by removing the institution and connecting the prime source of value, teachers, directly with students. Our live classes are 100% free, so that anyone, regardless of ability to pay, can learn on our yourClass. Live classes are capped at 50 people per session and are recorded. Students can purchase forever-access for a fee set by, and shared with, the teacher.

Our virtual classrooms also help form relationships between students with deep social media integration embedded right into the classroom. Learning from fellow students and developing lasting relationships with them has always been a critical element to a successful classroom and we make that possible. Seriously, the yourClass virtual classroom is as good, if not better than the traditional classroom.

Teachers earn at least a majority of the revenue from class sales and are therefore incentivized to develop high quality classes and they’re share depends on the rating of the class (teachers receive a higher percentage share of revenue for five-star rated classes than they do three-star rated classes) .

Features

At it’s core, yourClass is a virtual classroom that offers synchronous one-to-many and many-to-many live video. It has the standard virtual whiteboard, screensharing, notes, and raise-your-hand features that you’d expect to find in a virtual classroom, but it goes further. For instance, to help students build relationships with their classmates, student profiles incorporate information from social media profiles. When you click on a student’s profile, you’ll see information about who they are and how you know them, who your shared connections are, and what your shared interests are. It’s a wonderful way to create relationships in a virtual classroom.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

1. Passed first successful internal technology test (translation: our software works)

 

2. Announced our upcoming beta on 7/10/2013

 

3. Landed our first big partner (can’t say who yet)

 

4. Reached our first 100 signups within 24 hours of announcing the beta.

 

What are your next milestones?

 

1. 1,000 signups before beta opens.

 

2. 100 live classes at launch

 

3. Deliver 10,000 hours of live online learning

 

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?

Come by yourclass.net and add your name to our beta invite list. Users can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook (links below) to get free swag like t-shirts, stickers, sneak-peeks, and early access invites.

Twitter: @yourclassedu

Facebook.com/yourclassedu

 

This Florida educational startup won 25,000 at the startup conference below.

EE-FORENTREPRENEURS

The Need To Get His School Life Organized Sparks Young Entrepreneur’s Semester Planner

Semester Planner, Marcell Purham, Chicago Startup, Chicago TechWeek

Marcell Purham always knew he wanted to start something. He started coding and developing a little over 7 years ago when he was just 13 years old. His love of developing started with easy stuff like helping his friends code their MySpace pages. As time went on he got more and more into design and learning every language he could.  Purham is the kind of guy that soaks up knowledge from wherever he can get it, so he attends as many startup events in Chicago as he can and spends his freetime reading up on everything in the tech and startup world.

Now a college student, Purham quickly realized that his brain was overflowing with information, which made it really hard for him to stay focused and organized in school. That’s why he created Semester Planner.  “Think Online Trapper Keeper,” Purham told Nibletz in an interview. (Is he even old enough to remember the Trapper Keeper?)

Semester Planner is a student planning app that captures everything in a student’s academic life, including notes, class schedule, calendar, and more. It organizes all the information in an easy-to-recall platform that keeps everything by semester. It also makes it really easy to find things later.

We got a chance to talk with Purham. Check out our text and video interviews with Purham below.

What is your startup called?

Semester Planner.

What does your company do?

Semester Planner is a free online planner that helps students keep track of their notes, classes, assignments, and documents.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

There is only one founder and his name is Marcell Purham. Marcell is a software developer with 7+ years of developing for web. He started out at 13 learning to code and writing code for friends on myspace then took it to the next level by moving onto design and finally programming.

Where are you based?

We are based in Chicago, IL.

What problem do you solve?

The problem we’re solve are allowing students to access their notes, assignments, documents, and classes on the go or while they’re in school.

Why now?

Honestly as a student myself I needed something to help me keep track of all my semester classes, notes, assignments etc. So as I took on more classes I did not want to carry around all those heavy textbooks and finally decided to solve that problem, for not only myself but also for other students.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

We’ve achieved a lot within the first 6 months(Launched in January 2013).  Over 100 students from my community college signed up and used it for their semester and also some kids from others schools. We’ve had over 2,000 chrome downloads for semester planner and our likes on Facebook are constantly going up.

What are your next milestones?

Right now I am working on the Android version of the application and hope to release it sometime this year to students and I am talking with a friend on getting this developed for iOS also so that what we’re up to for now. Also we’re getting feedback from users and seeing if they’re things they love about the site and hate so that becomes very useful to us.

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?

If you would like to learn more about semester planner check it out on our website, Facebook or twitter.

Twitter – http://twitter.com/semesterplanner

facebook – https://www.facebook.com/semesterplanner

Semester Planner – https://semesterplanner.com

 

Now check out our video interview with Purham

 

We’ve got more Chicago TechWeek coverage than any other source, check it out here.

CTW-ELEVATELONG

If You’re Serious About Email Ditch Mailbox For Boxer, Launching Today

Boxer, Taskbox, Austin startup, Mailbox app, sxsw, relaunch, startup launch

Earlier this year the startup world was abuzz about the brand new Mailbox app. You remember, the one that made you download a countdown timer, and for most, wait several days before getting your hands on the app. However, people who get high volumes of email, quickly saw that Mailbox was a hype machine. The hype got so loud they quickly got acquired by the team at DropBox.

While all that was going on, tens of thousands of people descended upon Austin, Texas, for the annual Woodstock of startups, SXSW Interactive. It was there, at the Capital Factory and then on one of the startup stages, we found Taskbox. 

boxericonsmWe got to hear about the meat and potatoes baked into Taskbox during a pitch session focused on startups that were immune to the series A crunch. All the startups in that pitch session had an investment ask at the end of their decks, but we were just longing for a really good email app designed for people that actually get email.

Taskbox proved to be that app. In fact, the Taskbox team accelerated at Capital Factory which just happens to be founded by Joshua Baer, who made most of his fortune in–you guessed it–email.

After downloading, I discovered immediately that the team behind Taskbox had loaded the app with easy to use features, an appealing UX/UI, and had actually considered people who received a lot of email.

I receive anywhere from 350-500 fresh email messages a day that can’t be marked as spam. If I factor in “spam,” we’re closer to 1000.

 

serious

So Andrew Eye tipped me off a few weeks ago. He told me that during SXSW he had met  Xoogler Jason Shellen. Shellen has a very strong background having worked with Google, AOL, and his own startup Brizzly. During their time together at SXSW, Shellen told Eye that he was working on something new called Boxer. Boxer had even simpler, easy to understand features. The Taskbox team quickly acquired Boxer and brought Shellen on as head of product.

Boxer-Like

Shellen helped the Taskbox team revamp the UI by flattening it and adding some features that I’m really excited about, like the ability to “like” an email. This feature will let the writer know “Hey, I’m not ignoring you.” Sometimes that’s all you need to say in an email: message received and understood! It’s like a 10-4 button.

Other features include:

  • Powerful swipe gestures to help triage, respond, and manage on-the-go
  • Inline profile images & helpful contact cards
  • Works with all your existing email accounts (including Gmail, Exchange, Yahoo and more)
  • Dropbox integration for adding files to email from the cloud
  • Adds elements of social tools to email to make email more fun and like-able again

While the Taskbox team had a great product to start with, in reforming and launching under the Boxer name, they’re going t take email to yet another level. They also added more heavyweights to their founding dream team. Adam Cianfichi. formerly with Accuvant and Ciphent, and Ian Ragsdale who worked with Baer on OtherInbox and also Skylist, round out the new Boxer team. Andrew is the CEO, Adam heads up Design, Ian runs Engineering, and Jason runs Product.

The app is gesture based (yes like Mailbox), but what you can do with the gestures is infinitely more powerful. You can swipe to earmark an email for a set later date, you can archive it, like it, use a quick response or add it to the “to do” list. They’ve also integrated a favorites list and the ability to call up all email exchanges between you and another person with a click of a button. It’s almost like a mobile email based CRM.

Currently, Boxer is only available for iOS. Find out more here at getboxer.com

Now read: Am I the only one on earth who thinks Mailbox Sucks?

EEBOTHDiscount

EdTech Startups Here’s How K-12 Students Are Using Technology [INFOGRAPHIC]

EdTech, Education Startups,Technology in the classroom, startup, InfographicEdTech startups are on the rise. More and more educational institutions, universities, school systems and students are using technology to assist with learning, student privacy, teaching aids and more. Educationweek.com recently polled 1600 teachers and administrators in K-12 schools to determine how well their schools are using digital technologies.

The infographic below provides a snapshot of technology in the classroom as well as how students are embracing mobile technology.

According to Piper Jaffray’s 23rd semiannual “Taking Stock With Teens” report 34% of teenagers already own a tablet computer. A whopping 86% of teenagers say their next device will be a smartphone.

On the school side privacy and security seem to be the biggest area for technology in K-12 schools. Personal e-portfolio’s for students had the lowest ranking in data compiled by The Software and Information Industry Association “Vision K-20 Survey”.

Probably the most interesting, and positive data was among school districts. According to the Center For Digital Education’s “2011-2012 Digital School Districts Survey” of respondents, 65% of school districts have some kind of digital content strategy. 67% of school districts have data dashboards in place and 76% have a classroom technology standard.

How does your EdTech startup fit in? Check out the infographic below and you decide!

K12Technologyuse

 

Check out this Florida startup that is working on the first ever educational MMORPG

EEBOTHDiscount

Florida Startup Musical Math Number Line Has An Innovative Approach to Teaching Math

Musical Math Number Line,Jacksonville startup,startup interview,OneSpark,EdTechFlorida teacher turned entrepreneur Deb Bowers has an innovative, musical way to teach students adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers. She’s put it all to music and song using one of FAO Schwartz most popular toys.

Long gone are the days that one has to travel all the way to New York City to see FAO Schwartz signature toys. You know the ones made famous by many New York based Christmas movies including Home Alone. Toys-R-Us has created an FAO Schwartz section in all of their stores and one of their most popular toys from the brand is a gigantic piano kids can walk and jump on.Think Nintendo power pad meets keyboard.

Well Bowers has created a way to use that piano toy, affix a number chart on top and teach kids to add and subtract positive and negative numbers, while performing a song.

Musical Math Numberline comes with everything a parent needs to teach this method at home, except for the piano itself. You can either order it from Bowers’ site via a link to Toys R Us or go to your local Toys R us and pick it up. The numberline comes with the overlay for the piano along with a song book that is filled not only with songs, but songs composed by performing math problems.

To get the entire gist of the idea you should watch the video below. Bowers said she got the idea from her students. She would put masking tape on the floor and have them move about the front of the room adding and subtracting positive and negative numbers. Some students suggested that there had to be a way they could add music to it, so Bowers did.

She just showed off the idea at OneSpark the World’s Crowdfunding Festival where she hoped to get a jump start on bringing the company out to a bigger market. She told us there were lots of interested people that came to see her at her booth and that she was going to continue with Musical Math Numberline regardless of whether she was one of the companies to get funded at the event.

Check out the video below. You can find out more at musicalmathnumberline.com

Here are even more startup stories from OneSpark!

sneakertaco

 

An Educational MMORPG, We Chat With Lindsey Tropf CEO Of Immersed Games [video][onespark]

Immersed Games,OneSpark,Florida Startup,Gainesville Startup,EdTechEducational video games and online games have been due for a disruption for quite sometime. We’ve seen startups like Memphis’ Seed Hatchery alum, Knoco, innovate by trying to bring back the story line based games like “Where In The World I Carmen San Diego”, while that’s a great idea, the storyline concept wasn’t brand new.

Lindsey Tropf and her co-founders at Immersed Games have taken their gaming experience as teenagers, young adults and now graduating college students and decided to start something, fun, educational and long lasting. Yes, they’re creating the first educational MMORPG.

For those that aren’t gamers, MMORPG stands for Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, think World Of Warcraft, but of course Immersed Games educational MMORPG won’t be the least bit violent.

In the Immersed Games world students will take on an avatar and character profile and go into a world where they need to solve real problems with friends and other players to get to the next phase in the game.  We’re not talking the classic, question and answer problems, real life problems like creating food chains, and using laws of physics and science to get out of situations.

Immersed Games is relying on the addictive nature of MMORPG games to keep students coming back and learning more.

Their first game is going to tackle sixth great science in a virtual world.

Tropf, along with brother Ryan Tropf and Kaz Burgmeister are working on creating their first worlds and quests and are hoping to raise money at OneSpark and then in an investment round. If all goes well they hope to role out their first game next year.

Check out the video interview with Lindsey below:

Find out more about Immersed Games here

We’ve got so much OneSpark coverage here at nibletz.com

 

DC Startup Quad2Quad Goes Free Just In Time For Spring Break

Quad2Quad,DC Startup,EdTech,startup

Susan Jones (68) and Elizabeth Van Sant (54) co-founders of Quad2 Quad in their booth at everywhereelse.co (photo: Allie Fox for NMI)

Two amazing ladies from Washington DC are working on their startup Quad2Quad at warp speed. You would think that these were two twenty something entrepreneurs, young, hungry and ready to work 100 hours per week. Well they’re hungry and working 100 hours per week, but Susan Jones is 68 and co-founder Elizabeth Van Sant is 54.

These two mothers, business women and now startup founders in Washington DC are old enough to be Mark Zuckerberg’s moms. Their startup, Quad 2 Quad, was actually created because Van Sant and Jones have become somewhat pro’s at getting their kids off to college. They know the ins, the outs and “the ropes”.

We’ve interviewed and profiled quite a few college bound startups at nibletz.com. We interviewed Cleveland startup CollegeSkinny who’s platform helps high school students transition from high school to college. We featured CiteLighter which is a highlighting bookmarklet app that allows users to easily make citations in their research. Exceleratr, a New York startup, connects high school students to much needed extra-curricular activities outside of the high school campus.  We also  interviewed Swedish startup Studemia, which is a collaboration tool for students as well as CampusShift, a Youngstown startup looking to take a bite out of college debt.

Jones and Van Sant’s startup aims to help parents of perspective college students, simplify the college visit planning process.  Quad2Quad essentially becomes the college visitor’s personal assistant.

Quad2Quad took part in the AppNation conference in San Francisco earlier this year and everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference. Despite having post college aged children Jones and Van Sant mix it up, network and mingle with the best of the college aged entrepreneurs.

Currently they are looking for avenues to raise money, continuing to iterate on their app and developing as much traction as they can.

Quad2Quad just announced that they are going “free” in the app store, just in time for college spring break. The app currently offers 74 colleges and 12 itineraries. They add more and more colleges all the time.  They plan on adding another 35 schools in the month of April.

You can find out more about Quad2Quad here and download the iOS app here.

Check out these other Washington DC Startup stories here.

EdTech Startup MatchBox Lets Colleges Manage Applications On An iPad, SXSWedu Pitch Video

Matchbox.net,Startup,Boston startup,EdTech startup,SXSW,SXSW13,SXSWeduStephen Marcus, the founder and CEO of Matchbox has created a product that colleges and universities are quickly adopting and loving. Matchbox is a complete solution that allows admissions staff to manage the applications process via an ipad app.

“For us, using Matchbox was a no brainer,” said Sundar Kumarasamy, vice president for enrollment management and marketing at the University of Dayton, in a prepared statement released by the company. “Matchbox provides us with an intuitive solution that empowers our readers to give each applicant the critical attention they deserve while saving us countless hours in the process.” EdTech times reported last July.

Matchbox and their new and innovative way to handle admissions, made it to the finals in the higher ed category at the LAUNCHedu startup showdown as part of SXSWedu earlier this week.

Although SpeakingPal was the ultimate winner in the HigherEd category, Mathbox still beat out 10 other high caliber startups targeting college students and educators.

Check out their pitch video from the finals on Wednesday afternoon. For more info on Matchbox and how it can help your admissions process, visit matchbox.net.

Check out more of our SXSW 2013 coverage here

Baltimore Startup Common Curriculum Has Disrupted Curriculum Writing [SXSW]

Common Curriculum,EdTech startup,Baltimore startup,LAUNCHedu,SXSWedu,sxsw,sxsw13Teachers write between 200-800 lesson plans per year based on how many unique courses they teach. This was a major pain point for educators. Often times they would want to take one lesson and take part of it and incorporate it into another. This would be great if they could easily put their hands on that file.

In 2009 Baltimore math teacher Scott Messinger became fed up with the old way of planning curriculum. EdTech was poppin up everywhere at the student level, yet teachers were still writing lesson plans in Microsoft Word, or the old fashioned way, by hand.

Messinger taught himself to code over the next three years and started building what became Common Curriculum. According to whatweekly, in 2011 Robbie Earle joined Messinger as co-founder, after Education Hack Day.

They launched Common Curriculum back in August and this week they were a finalist at LAUNCHedu as part of SXSWedu.

We got a chance to catch up with Earle. Check out our video interview below.

Check out more of our SXSW 2013 Coverage here at nibletz.com

Clever Wins The K-12 Category At LAUNCHedu, SXSWedu With This Pitch

Clever,EdTech,startup,startup pitch,sxswedu,sxsw13,sxswClever, a platform that connects educational software providers with legacy Student Information Systems, has already caught the eye of major venture capitalists. Back in October, after completing the summer round at Y-Combinator, they raised $3 million dollars from some of the tech world’s elite venture capitalists including SVAngels, Google Ventures, Bessemer and Mitch Kapor of Kapor Capital.

While getting into Y-Combinator, graduating and raising a big round of funding are all great, Wednesday night at SXSWedu they were crowned K-12 champions of the LAUNCHedu startup showdown. This award is better than your average pitch competition because it’s an award from their peers and their user base, educators.

What began as a simple idea for a simple, yet aggravating problem, eventually prompted founders Dan Carroll, Tyler Bosmeny and Rafael Garcia to quit their jobs and pursue this opportunity full time.  Another startup called LearnSprout is attacking the same problem, and a Startup Weekend EDU startup, Student Dash, attempted it but had to abandon the project because founder Kevin Tame didn’t have time to continue. Tame was featured in the recent Startup Weekend EDU movie.

Clever has already received major traction and is building scale at a quick rate. Carroll said in his Wednesday pitch that the startup had already been deployed in 3,000 schools and has over 1 million student users.  They also have over 40 paying app customers who pay them to access their platform.

Check out Carroll’s winning pitch video below:

More SXSW 2013 coverage here at nibletz.com  

EdTech Startup SpeakingPal Pitches At LAUNCHedu Part Of SXSWedu [sxsw]

speakingpal,startups,edtech,sxswedu,sxsw13,sxswNowadays people don’t have time for long tail language speaking courses like Rosetta Stone. Not only that but most courses, like Rosetta Stone, teach their students in just about the same manner you would learn a foreign language in high school.

SpeakingPal, an Israeli startup, is actually more successful because the platform teaches English in a more natural format.

SpeakingPal is a web based platform and also a mobile app platform that let’s the user engage with video content and actually have a “conversation” with the virtual instructor.

The guys at SpeakingPal actually ended up winning the highered category at LAUNCHedu as part of SXSWedu.

Check out their pitch below:

Check out more of our SXSW13

coverage here

Chicago EdTech Startup ThinkCerca Pitches At SXSWedu

ThinkCerca,Chicago startup,EdTech,startup,startups,starup video

ThinkCera founder Eileen Murphy Buckley pitches at SXSWedu (photo: NMI 2013)

50 years ago, a student challenging a teacher would be cause for a good paddle beating or wrapping on the students fingers with a ruler. Today, not so much.

Argumentation is now at the core of the new  Common Core State Standards, and distinguished Chicago educator, Eileen Murphy Buckley, understands that with a passion. As the former Director of Curriculum and Instruction for over 100 Chicago Public Schools,  Buckley oversaw the implementation of this kind of curriculum system wide.

Now she’s turned these important fundamentals into ThinkCerca a platform that helps build students critical thinking ability.

With argumentation we’re not talking abut back talking the teacher, Buckley and progressive educators worldwide are teaching students how to create valid arguments about everything built on five principles; claim, evidence, reasoning, counter argument and audience.

“ThinkCERCA is harnessing the unique combination of deep subject area knowledge, hard-earned, pedagogical design skill, and research-based expertise to build a marketplace that will give school districts economic access to the world’s largest selection of high quality literacy lessons. Unlike a the limited selection available in a static textbook, our dynamic marketplace will offer a distribution channel for expert teachers to refresh and deepen the lesson library in ways that both students and teachers find valuable.” Buckley wrote in a guest post to Chicago based Technori.

ThinkCera made it to the final round in the LAUNCHedu startup showdown as part of SXSWedu in the K-12 category.

Check out their pitch below:

 SXSW team coverage from nibletz.com can be found here.

instaGrok Is A New Way To Learn, And It Works! SXSWedu Video Interview

instagrok,EdTech startup,startups,startup interview,sxswedu,sxsw13,sxswWhen I first sat down with Andrew Bender, President and CEO of instaGrok I was mesmerized at what I saw. I originally though that a “research engine” would be boring, or at best a fancy way to say search engine, and Google has determined we don’t need anymore of those.

Once Bender took me through a demo I wished that instaGrok was around when I was in school. I told Bender that I am a very visual person. I “white board” just about everything, drawing webs, flowcharts and arrows all over the place.  Well instaGrok takes whatever your researching and visually shows the user how things are connected.

Bender showed me two examples. The first was gravity. As you can see from the grok above gravity is connected to Einstein, equation, orbit, object, universe, scientists, force, astronaut, and Newton. When you’re on the instaGrok site if you click on any of the circles another web appears showing how the connections are connected to other things.

On the right side bar instaGrok connects the user to key facts, websites, videos, images, quizzes and a glossary. Now the user is connected to mountains worth of research in a very easy to understand and navigate UI. If a user was actually working on a research paper about gravity they could pin anything from the right hand columns directly into the grok.

The other topic we looked at was “Brown v Brown” and a user built grok. This grok features a bunch of links that the creator has added, or pinned, to it with the information they need.

You don’t need to register for instaGrok, but if you do you can save the groks you create for as long as you would like.

We got a chance to interview Bender at the LAUNCHedu showcase as part of SXSWedu. Check out the video interview below:

 Check out instaGrok here

Here’s more of our SXSW13 coverage at nibletz.com