I like the sound of this news from Potomac Tech Wire:
The University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education plans to launch a new education technology accelerator in Charlottesville, school officials said. … The news comes amid a sharp increase in venture capital for education technology companies in recent years, with UVA Curry spinning out such organizations such as PALS, CaseNex and Teachstone. “Given these trends, and a strong belief that research-backed, education technology innovations can dramatically improve educational access and outcomes, UVA Curry is planning to start its own accelerator/ incubator program that is focused on driving innovative new startups in education,” the school said.
PALS is a “screening, diagnostic, and progress monitoring tool for measuring the fundamental components of literacy.”
Teachstone claims to improve learning from birth to high school “by making teachers more effective in their interactions with students” and using “proven approaches” in classroom observation and educator professional development.
CaseNex supports educators through an online, case-based approach. Multimedia cases, or “slices of life,” says the company web page. CaseNex forms a realistic connection between professional learning and the complex school environment. I’m not sure what that means. Is it like the business school “case” method brought to K-12? Could be promising.
Curry’s education accelerator is significant in many ways. First, it’s example of the kind of entrepreneurial activity, recently highlighted by PeterG, flowing out of UVa. Go Hoos! Second, it is indicative of the creative thinking and entrepreneurial energy emerging from the educational profession after decades of institutional lethargy. The willingness of venture capitalists to invest hard cash affirms that these ideas have some merit.
Which brings us to the third point. Watch out! The traditional model of K-12 education is being disrupted at many levels, not just by online learning. Traditional public-school bureaucracies are dinosaurs. We don’t have to spend more public money on education in Virginia to get better results. We need to break down barriers to innovation and find out which of these new ideas will work. School systems that experiment aggressively will thrive in the years ahead.
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