What Happens When You Cross a School and a Startup?

What Happens When You Cross a School and a Startup?

No joke. Summit Public Schools and Clever set out to spend a day together.

By Jon Deane     Feb 26, 2013

What Happens When You Cross a School and a Startup?

Everywhere we go in the ed tech community, whether at a meetup or in a blog post, people are asking "How should ed tech companies and schools work best together?" Clever and Summit Public Schools have had lots of great conversations over the past eight months about how we can work together, but recently we decided to try a different approach to answering this question... It's really quite simple, we are actually going to work together for a day.

Later this week, Summit will host a "Clever on Campus" day where the Clever team is going to dive in and get involved with a blended math classroom. Clever staff will be tutoring, observing, and meeting with students and teachers to gather feedback and understand how Summit works.

At the same time, Summit will be learning about startups, as Clever team members teach students about entrepreneurship, the startup world, and even some basic computer science.

Clever, in turn, will get intimately involved with how Summit's classrooms run--and we'll all be looking for ways that the Clever team can help.

The best part? At the end of the day, Clever will gather for a lightning-fast "hackathon" aimed at building something that the Summit team really wants. Maybe it will be a tool to help teachers make sense of data, or an efficient way for students to ask for help, or a way to automate a previously painful process.

We can't wait to see what happens when the focus of a startup is on our school's operations.

Our proposition is that both sides will get stronger knowledge of how the other works, which can only benefit the way we work with each other, as well as with other tech companies and schools in the future. Clever's team will see a school in action, getting a perspective on the challenges that a school faces each day. Summit's students and teachers will learn about what happens behind the scenes at Clever and will get a chance to ask questions in a truly unique forum.

We have ideas about what we think will happen, and we have goals for what both sides will get from the day. What makes this experience even more interesting is that we're planning it together. Once it gets rolling, we all know that things might change.

We'd love to hear from you: If you were doing a day like this, what would you want to get out of it? What should Summit ask of Clever? What should Clever learn from Summit? Share your ideas below, and we'll do what we can to incorporate them for Clever on Campus day.

And we'll be sure to keep you posted on how it goes, what we all learn and what tips we glean about how educators and entrepreneurs can successfully collaborate.

For the record, here are some of the questions that we--both Summit and Clever--have, going into this experience:

From Summit:

  • Does having an edtech company on campus give our teachers and students more insight into the products we use and how they are created? Will that experience help us use the products effectively? What do the teachers think?
  • Can we have a meaningful impact in helping an edtech company think about how they can best work with schools?
  • How much do processes and methodologies that a start up uses translate to a school environment?
  • Can a company learn enough about us in just a few hours to be able to build something meaningful? (and by extension: If so, what would be possible if we extended that time period?)

From Clever:

  • What does innovation in a school environment work? How do you "pivot" and "fail fast" when student learning is involved?
  • How do things change with technology when rubber meets the road in the classroom? What factors allow students and teachers to use technology efficiently?
  • What is it like to be a high schooler? How do high school students at Summit think about their education? What gets them excited?

Stay tuned for next week's installment! Same Summit channel; same Summit time!

Editors note: If your school is interested in connecting with a team of entrepreneurs--or if your entrepreneurs would like to spend a day back in school--drop EdSurge at note at feedback@edsurge.com and in the subject line put: Seeking Educating Companions. We'll try to hook you up!
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