I don’t know about you, but Shark Tank is one of my guilty pleasure TV shows. I mean it is kind of ridiculous, but I am not ashamed to admit that I LOVE it. So I was psyched to see that the theme of this month’s educational technology meetup in San Francisco was Teacher Tank, organized by EdSurge. Yep, a peek at the future of EdTech, and a Shark Tank style grilling of EdTech entrepreneurs by a panel of teacher sharks (including TFA Bay Area alum Rebecca Horwitz).
The evening featured three edtech pitches, focused on formative assessment, teacher evaluation, and storytelling:
- Glasslab is creating a formative assessment tool built on top of SimCity (the first new version of SimCity in 10 years is coming out soon). They are only in the prototype phases, but the idea of gaming + formative assessment + SimCity seems pretty intriguing.
- BloomBoard is trying to make teacher evaluation processes actually useful to teachers, building a collaborative tool for teachers, principals, and coaches to share evaluation ratings, set goals, and find useful professional development resources.
- Meograph is a tool for “four dimensional storytelling.” “Storytelling is too hard,” said Misha Leybovich, so he founded Meograph originally as a way to share stories from his travels. His vision is to help students learn how to tell stories, while also demonstrating mastery of skills and learning some multimedia skills along the way. A teacher version of the product is coming out in 2-3 weeks.
Though I had my hopes up for some drama, the sharks weren’t quite as mean as Mr. Wonderful. But they did do some pretty solid grilling… “What about pre- and post- assessment?” Boom! “I’m not seeing enough student choice here.” Bam! “Are you sure you’re following privacy rules around the collection of student email addresses?” Whazam! Seeing experienced educators ask tough questions about the products made for a good dynamic, but I think it also speaks to how important it is for edtech entrepreneurs to ensure that strong teacher feedback is present in their product development processes, and how important it is for all teachers to choose carefully which tools make sense for their classroom.
Of the three in the Tank, Meograph is probably the tool most ready for you to start using in your classroom tomorrow. There are loads of other edtech tools popping up these days that could support you and your goals with your students. To find them, EdSurge is a perfect place to start. Besides product reviews and a weekly newsletter designed specifically for educators in the classroom, you’ll also find an events calendar if you’re interested in finding a meetup or conference in your neck of the woods (there was a big TFA presence at the meetup I went to, so I hope you do!).