MindShift ran a piece yesterday on the rise of the educator-entrepreneur.
This comes just as a discussion has begun on the Baltimore EdTech Group about the new iteration of edtech. It was there that I posed the following:
One of the most interesting things to see here in Baltimore is how a new iteration of edtech seems to have evolved — one in which technologists and teachers (and students!) are working together to build new things built directly on the experience of learning in 1:1 and mobile environments.
What kinds of connections are you seeing where you are? And, perhaps more to the point, have we stepped out of the dark days when educators had no role in the development of the technologies they were expected to use?
This is the new reality in edtech. If you don’t have a teacher among your founders, your new company just doesn’t fit into the new groove. Teaching used to be a profession where the ladders to success were limited. It was expected that a successful teacher might become a department chair; or maybe leave the classroom to climb up the rungs of administration. But all of that has changed. There are now more ladders available to educators than ever before — from co-founding an edtech startup to branching out on your own to start a tutoring MOOC to establishing a new social enterprise with community impact.
And there is more capital available to education innovation than ever before. According to a summer 2012 report by Global Silicon Valley Advisors, investment volume into the education industry in 2011 “exceeded peak 1999-2000 levels”":
In the words of one prominent investor, “I see more and more capital moving to the area and for two primary reasons: anytime large, broken industries exist, significant opportunities for start-ups are created. Additionally, the millennial generation is learning in different ways, which has been driven by technology.”
As we move forward into the digital era in education, it is imperative that teachers themselves lead the charge. Collaboration between teachers and technologists creates the potential for both technology and learning to flourish. And the point of new educational technologies is not educational technology itself, but student learning outcomes.