Earlier this week, NBC ran its third annual ‘Education Nation’ summit, and EdSurge’s Nick Punt was on hand to get the low down. The summit, focused on the state of education in the US, brought together politicians, school leaders, and others on several panels throughout the two-day event.
As we mentioned last week, the summit included an education technology component called the Innovation Challenge (because only technologists innovate? but, we digress...). Three edtech teams--NoRedInk, Pathbrite, and ReadImagine--competed for a $100,000 prize in five separate challenges--presenting their solutions to teachers, students, and a panel of judges.
All three teams competed admirably and got good feedback during the challenges. In the end, it was NoRedInk, which until recently was a one-man team, that won over the judges with its online platform that helps students improve grammar and writing skills by providing them content relevant to their interests. But trophies aside, the real value for these teams is a nice wad of cash and the publicity which can go a long way in attracting customers and investors.
As for the wider summit, based on the speaker list it was no surprise there were plenty of talking heads--some ‘dangerously vague’ (as one person on Twitter put it). Others, though quite in the know, were not always able to translate their knowledge to television soundbytes. Besides the panels, however, NBC did produce several pieces of original reporting on successes at schools and shared the case studies on their site. The reporting, while often cursory, did a good job of opening up education issues and potential solutions to a wider audience.
Sometimes it's easy for those of us closely involved in education to forget that the majority of the population lack a good understanding of our terminology, successes, and challenges. This is why we think--despite Education Nation's shortcomings--these types of events are important first steps to get people to be more aware of what's happening in education.