Start Ups – Ed Tech, Why They Suck

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Feb 052016

Start Ups

Start Ups – Most ed-tech startups suck! Here’s where they’re going wrong.

Start Ups – Reynol Junco October 28, 2012 3:15 PM



Yes Reynol  is correct in what he says: ” Without knowing the research on how students learn and develop as well as the literature on how technology affects student outcomes, the chances of your startup magically creating student success are almost nonexistent”. There is no doubt about this.

It’s important to note that improving student learning outcomes, that advance sustained,  individual student performance improvement outcomes, starts as a COLLECTIVE effort between educators and educationally innovative start ups. Put simply, it takes two to tango.

Then, why do traditional educators, when presented with educationally innovative software, that has documented, research validated pedagogy, seamlessly integrated into the software and validated, learning success outcomes choose other options, that don’t add similar value, or no value, to student learning outcomes? For example, one size fits all: whiteboards, clickers, lecture, elearning and focusing on the device? ( Traditional MOOCs, Harvard, Stanford, MIT,  are one size fits all and the device is simply a delivery medium.)

Traditional educators have become professional naysayers. Rather than becoming experts on how choose educationally innovative software, yes this is part of what they should be doing, they become purveyors of the path of least resistance, choosing the safe route, that doesn’t accomplish anything specific to advancing student success outcomes and keeping the staus quo through the wrong choice(s), or keeping the status quo by making no choice at all. Either way no improvement happens.

Who can fix this?

There are numerous technology providers that have seamlessly integrated, research driven, educationally innovative pedagogy, into software, individually delivered to students, that have documented, advanced student success outcomes.

There are ALSO LOTS of traditional educators that only lecture, or have replaced one size fits all lectur, with one size fits all elearning…This is not progress in advancing student, adaptive learning, or advancing student performance improvement outcomes.

EDUCATORS must bring their knowledge up to 21st Century Technology and 21st Century Learning. The appropriate solution will not choose itself. AND the appropriate solution is available. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Educators MUST want to advance student success outcomes and they must aggressively pursue proven solutions

that do so. Understanding these solutions, embracing them and appropriately implementing them is the next step. Convincing their not so interested colleagues is also part of the solution.

EVERYTHING you need to know is within this website. Here are a few relevant posts (Let me know how I can help you):

Why is Educator, Professional Development,  not Differentiated?

Online Learning vs. Online Teaching

FREE – Adaptive Learning Software for Teachers, Students and Parents


Procurement Issues

Paradigm Paralysis


This is a guest post by professor, Reynol Junco

We’re in the middle of an Educational Technology (“ed-tech”) startup boom.

Research by GSV Advisors shows a sharp increase in investments in education companies almost doubling between 2007 and 2011 to $930 million. Data from the National Venture Capital Association shows that investment in ed-tech companies has almost tripled between 2002 and 2011.

It’s no surprise that the number of ed-tech startup companies has grown exponentially and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.

The market is flooded with these startups and clearly, there is a great deal of interest from venture capital firms.

Many ed-tech startups typically build their product because one of the founders had a particular issue in college that they think can be addressed with a new technology or by building an education version of an existing technology.

For instance, a founder might think “I used to forget to bring my chemistry book to class so why don’t I develop a cool app that automatically texts students right before a class where they need a book?” (Please note that I did not base this example on a real startup; however, I wouldn’t be surprised if such a product existed). Other ed-tech startups have an idea they think should result in improved student outcomes and they run with it.

I hate to break it to you…

This may come as a surprise to ed-tech companies, but you’re not going to invent the next big thing by shooting in the dark. Without knowing the research on how students learn and develop as well as the literature on how technology affects student outcomes, the chances of your startup magically creating student success are almost nonexistent.

Indeed, it’s not the technology that generates learning, but the ways in which the technology are used.

Ed-tech startups rarely, if ever, talk with educators about designing their product. You’d be surprised at the number of emails I get asking me to comment on a product after it has been conceptualized, built, and tested. I have dubbed these messages “tell us how cool our product is” emails.

Startups in other fields don’t behave this way. Imagine a genomics startup that didn’t talk to medical researchers and/or didn’t base their products on research in the biotech field. Such a company would never exist, let alone be funded by a venture capital firm.

Yet, in this new boom investors are more than happy to fund an ed-tech startup whose employees have never bothered to read a single piece of educational research. My fellow academic rebel Audrey Watters famously commented about a $2.5 million investment in Codecademy, “Wow, bullshit badging and shitty pedagogy wins the day in ed-tech investing.”

Educators and researchers who know about how students learn know that there is nothing special about Codecademy. The flashing lights and pretty buttons fool the venture capital firms and foundations that invest in these kinds of startups. Since funders also know next to nothing about how students learn, of course these ideas sound amazing.

Where’s the data?

Start Ups – Read the rest of the Article, Here


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