Last Wednesday, amidst the end of their school year, LearnLaunch invited teachers and technology integration specialists from the Medfield School District to visit our campus to see what we and our edtech startups are working on.
For three hours, these educators provided much needed feedback to statups working on cutting edge solutions in edtech. The day began with a tour through LearnLaunch Campus. It was the first time these K-12 educators from Medfield visited LearnLaunch Campus, an edtech focused co-working space in downtown Boston. “The LearnLaunch space seems awesome. It’s great to have all these companies coming in and working under the guidance of the LearnLaunch staff,” said Leora Seri, a Medfield Spanish teacher.
After the tour, some lunch, and hearing about LearnLaunch Institute’s MAPLE initiative, the educators broke out into groups to meet with the startups. Each company had 45 minutes to work with the educators, pitching, demoing and discussing their products.
The participating companies including four startsup from LearnLaunch’s current Boost cohort. They included BlocksCAD (CEO Sol Menashi), Choosito! (CEO Eleni Miltsakaki), LearnBolt (CEO Steve Albanese), and Unruly Studios (CEO Bryanne Leeming). Four of our alumni companies also joined; Chalk Talk (CEO Mohannad Arbaji), Education Modified (CEO Melissa Corto), Listenwise (CEO Monica Brady-Myerov), and TeachersConnect (CEO David Meyers).
Libby Randolph, an English teacher, spent one of her sessions with Education Modified, a platform that improves the education of students with learning challenges by allowing teachers to access specific teaching strategies. “I think it could be a great tool to provide this snapshot alternative to teachers going through pages and pages of IEPs to really understand the student” Randolph said. “This would be a great tool to help us really understand who the kid is at a glance.”
Another educator got to demo a prototype version of Unruly Studios’s first product, Unruly Tiles. This demo included playing a pong-esc game volleying colored light back and forth between the two tiles. “I guess my first thought is that it’s a home product more than a school product….But on the other hand, in our particular school I could see one or two of these being used in the library.”
For startups, this type of interaction with educators in the field is invaluable. “Getting feedback from teachers is of critical importance for our design process and our marketing efforts.” said Eliza Kano-Bower, Director of Partner Success at TeachersConnect. “Talking to teachers and showing them our prototypes helps us make sure our product actually delivers what teachers want. Without teacher input, we would be flying blind.”
Not all the feedback was positive, but that’s okay for the entrepreneurs. “Hearing negative feedback and critique of our product feels productive and is collaborative” said Melissa Corto, CEO of Education Modified. “It is very important to me. Education Modified is building products to help teachers and make their lives easier, that is the sole mission- critique and negative feedback is critical in order for us to complete that mission.“
Not only was this a valuable experience for the entrepreneurs, it was also insightful for the teachers. “I’d love to bring other teachers back” Debbie Fromen, one of Medfield’s Technology Integration Specialist said. “It’s been really eye-opening to hear the pitches and to actually see the thinking behind the products. I believe that teachers would appreciate being able give that feedback before a product comes out.”
LearnLaunch plans on hold more sessions like these for educators in the future. If you or your school is interested in visiting LearnLaunch to test products, please contact Asad Butt: [email protected]
Blog post by Zachary Grimshaw, Associate at LearnLaunch Accelerator