Rhode Island's Big Edu Step

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Rhode Island's Big Edu Step

Education Department in Rhode Island to host technology conference

By Betsy Corcoran (Columnist)     Aug 27, 2013

Rhode Island's Big Edu Step

Hey, edutech entrepreneurs: Want to show your product to teachers? Get feedback? Develop sales leads? Then think about making a trip to Rhode Island in October--or Silicon Valley in November.

On Saturday, October 5, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) is sponsoring a day-long conference about using technology in education entitled: "Innovation Powered by Technology: Cultivating Quality."

Yes, there will be big name speakers and breakout workshops and such. (Here's the schedule.) An estimated 700 educators will represent Rhode Island's 54 districts. (That includes single and regional municipality school districts as well as state-operated and charter schools and even a few private schools.)

And, there will be an opportunity for edtech companies of all sizes to meet with teachers so that the educators can try out their products and give them some crisp Narragansett Bay feedback.

Inspired by the gathering this past July in Chicago, Shawn Rubin, director of blended learning at the Highlander Institute, and yours truly at EdSurge are collaborating to put technology companies into a genuine dialogue with teachers.

We're calling it the "EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit: Rhode Island 2013" hosted by the Rhode Island Department of Education's Annual Technology Conference.

Our Summit is a conference within a conference. Educators will have an opportunity to test out technology products without being "pitched." About 20 edtech companies will have a chance to engage in conversations with teachers.

And although we're discouraging market puffery, yes, sales will indeed happen: Highlander's Rubin reports that more than seven districts plan to send teams that will have dollars in their pockets, ready to spend.

What we learned in Chicago: meaningful conversations between educators and entrepreneurs can happen. It starts with recognizing the value that teachers bring--and putting them and entrepreneurs in a shared space that's about learning.

We will share all the gory details here in the days ahead, but here's the "need to know" facts:

1. All organizations--for profit & nonprofit--building edtech tools are welcome to apply for a spot at the conference. Especially encouraged are those building: teacher resource tools, student facing tools, or classroom collaboration tools.

2. As many as 20 products will be chosen by a panel of five judges. All applications are due Friday Sept. 13 by 6:00 pm ET. Selected companies will be notified on Sept. 18.

3. Those selected will pay a $500 participation fee.

4. Half the companies will share their products with teachers during a two-hour window before lunch; the other half will share after lunch.

5. Those selected companies will agree to make their products available for a free trial to participating Rhode Island teachers for two weeks before the conference and two weeks after the conference.

The application, along with more details about the selection criteria, are available here.

And in Silicon Valley: Yep, we're scoping a similar program. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.

Learn more about EdSurge operations, ethics and policies here. Learn more about EdSurge supporters here.

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