NEPRIS has raised $1 million in a round of seed funding, led by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. The Dallas-based company is an online platform that connects companies and professionals in STEM and art fields with classrooms. Students can use the platform to set up Q&A sessions with professionals, virtual field trips and project mentorship.
According to Nepris, more than 65,000 students in 2,200 classrooms are connected on the platform. The company will use the new funding to redesign its website, expand the platform, add more industry chats and grow its list of schools in rural and lower socio-economic districts.
GRADESLAM has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from Birchmere Ventures, which led the round, BDC Capital, Anges Quebec, Philip A. Cutler and Real Ventures, according to a press release. The company, founded in 2014 and based in Montreal, makes a platform for one-on-one tutoring; GradeSlam describes its technology as "humanized adaptive learning for students K-12" that "equips teachers and administrators with actionable insights on how students learn outside of the classroom." The company first launched its service in September 2015 and claims to have facilitated 350,000 tutoring sessions since.
LAGGING ON MOBILE: On Friday Adobe Digital Insights released its first U.S. Education Benchmark report on education websites. The research pulled Adobe Marketing Cloud data from about 110 U.S. companies and institutions from 2013 to 2016, a survey of 1.8 million Adobe Acrobat users and some 12 million Twitter mentions in the last year.
A few highlights from the findings:
- The education sector lags in the shift to mobile, compared to other industries. According to the report, 68 percent of web traffic from post-secondary schools comes from desktop, and this decreased 3 percent year-over-year.
- Based on social media data, education is a topic of interest year-round, but spikes from August to January.
- Women are also more engaged than men in back-to-school conversations, with 64 percent of those conversations on social media coming from women, the report suggests.
Check out the full report.
NO MORE SURVEYS: Researchers at Oregon State University are studying teaching evaluations, and it turns out year-end questionnaires alone don’t provide meaningful data on their teaching practice. OSU’s study, published in the Journal of Higher Education Management, finds STEM faculty at large research universities prefer using their own evaluation systems, combining quantitative and qualitative feedback to inform their teaching throughout the course.
The National Science Foundation funded the research and results suggest major challenges to faculty using evaluations include low student participation, feedback arriving too late or responses being too vague. OSU researchers plan to further study what moves some faculty over others to develop their own evaluation systems.
TRANSLATION, PLEASE: Faculty often have knowledge in their fields of expertise that could benefit society, but they’re not incentivized for sharing their findings in a way that the public can understand or make use of them. This month the American Sociological Association shared a report titled, “What Counts? Evaluating Public Communication in Tenure and Promotion.”
The report advocates for including public communication—different from the academic-speak found in scholarly journals—in faculty evaluations. If a computer science professor wrote a story for “Popular Mechanics” today, those efforts likely wouldn’t be considered in her evaluations for a promotion or tenure.
In an article for The Conversation, Amy Schalet, director of the Public Engagement Project at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, shares why it’s important to translate academic work for a lay audience: “Crucial research-based information on, for instance, housing discrimination, health impacts of chemicals in our everyday environment or the causes and consequences of health inequities, remains largely unknown to the outside public and politicians. This is information that could inform and have an impact on policy.”