What Happened at ASU-GSV.....

By Betsy Corcoran     Apr 28, 2014

What Happened at ASU-GSV.....

More so than most any other education technology event,last week’s ASU-GSV Summit, which brought 2,000 entrepreneurs, investors and,yes, educators (there was a corps of 100) together at the Phoenician hotel, inScottsdale, AZ, is a triathalon networking event:  

The Chase: Chase prospective partners and fundersup and down the escalators of the luxurious Phoenician hotel;

The Shake: Ricochet through the lobby outside theGrand Ballroom, shaking hands with acquaintances as you type-jab at your mobilephone to arrange your next appointment;

InfoDownload: Dart into a keynote talk or panel, plantyourself in a chair and tap into the edtech zeitgeist for a few minutes. Extrapoints if you simultaneously charge your phone or manage to wolf downlunch.   

Tom Vander Ark, founder of Getting Smart, surelyearned the gold by clockingan impressive 132 meetings, and moderating a panel on how to deliver equalaccess to education andwriting it up here.

And just in case someone asks you what else happened, here’s cheatsheet of whatwe heard and overheard at the Summit:

Headliners

Why here, why now? More than anytimebefore, conference organizers GSV and ASU emphasized the “why” of theconference: Why develop, invest or use education technology? Because, asserted GSV chairman, Michael Moe, the American dream—thebelief that a child will build a better life than his or her parents—isendangered, particularly for immigrants. A majority of students in 18 ofAmerica’s 50 states live in or near the poverty live, he noted. “It’s aboutwhat you know, not where you go,” Moe noted. His touchstone acronym: EIEIO—or“education, innovation, entrepreneurism, immigration and opportunity.” And here's the video. 

TheDream.us: Don Graham, former publisher of the Washington Postand now head of GrahamHoldings, offered his solution for helping undocumented immigrant childrenpay for college: The Dreamers’ program aims to cover tuition for qualifyingDACA students at schools and organizations (including Kaplan) that grantdegrees for $25K (total for the four years). Graham, who has raised $31 millionfor the program that is less than a year old, is stumping for $100 million. (Kaplan’sinvolvement is through a nonprofit arm.) EdSurge’s Betsy Corcoran gotto ask the questions.

Jeb Bush Revving? Even though he was ailing from a nasty cold, Jeb Bush made a passionatepitch for school choice and accountability. He certainly seems campaignready.He saluted Julie Young,who created Florida Virtual School as the “godmother” of digital learning.He gave shoutouts to LearnZillion, Remind101 and Edmodo, as organizations thatare helping teachers and students.  “Instead of excuses, we should be focused on engagingevery child in our education system,” Bush said.

And what about all that "chitter-chatter, yik yak or whatever you call it" about innovation in education? Michael M. Crow, President of Arizona State University who is building what he calls a "new American university," tried to lay to rest some of the worries about education innovation: It's not about replacing teachers with machines, or shedding what some see as an "archaic academic culture" or adding in some special genius. Instead, "It's about culture change"--at many levels, Crow said, especially "...around the notion of the empowerment of individualized learning." Here's the video. 

Heard

Of the 250 companies that made 6-minutepresentations at GSV, 40% were founded or are led by women.

Sandra Day O’Connor, the first femaleSupreme Court Justice: The US has made progress in equal opportunities sincethe 1960s but, yep, we have a ways to go. We still need Affirmative Action, shesaid, for the foreseeable future.  

InBloom CEO IwanStreichenberger shared the decision to “wind down” themassive development that would have collected and managed student information. InBloom’stechnology is open source; its APIs, dashboard and collection of tools are available for downloading here. Expect tosee something emerge from these ashes.

Palo Alto-based startup Declara, which is building a sophisticatedlearning social network, said ithas raised beaucoup bucks: $16 million in a round led by GSV Capital.Overheard: the team is still prowling for more.

Stacey Childress of the Gates Foundation debuted a study of teacherswhich reports they want better digital tools but they only use about half ofall those available. Barely more than half of those teachers say the tools areeffective. Edsurgereport here; Childress’blog post about the study here.

Reed Hastings, Netflix founder and CEO and long-time edtech supporter particularly of DreamBox, deliveredseveral succinct messages to entrepreneurs: If at first you succeed…prepare fora nose dive. What’s the best way to survive a crisis? Build a team that comestogether in tough times rather than one that bails. Hastings worries that toofrequently in education,  we mistake“oscillations” for “progress.” Politically elected school boards swapsuperintendents in and out too much for schools to make steady, long-termprogress, he charged. What Hastings would like to see: charters educating 80%of American students.

Google’s Jaime Casap took a packed room ofcompanies to task: Don’t build edtech products that simply reinforce old anddamaged practices. Next question: So what’s brewing in Google that will takeeducation to a new level?

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble?Yep, we’re in an edtech bubble, declared WeldNorth CEO Jonathan Grayer (who snapped up Truenorthlogic and Imagine Learningin April) and Senior Managing Director Chris Hoehn-Saric of Sterling Partners. ButGrayer noted that bubbles aren’t all bad, in part because they drawtalent.Here’s EdSurge columnist, FrankCatalano’s bubblish commentary in GeekWire.

Overheard (or not so much)

MIA: MOOCs. Only one panel dealt specifically withMOOCs and there was far less hubbub on the topic than in the past.  

Research, wherefore art thou? They could have been morediscussion of brain science and what we know about learning, noted someattendees.

Data, data, data: What really matters? Althoughthere was much discussion of the importance of looking at student “outcomes,”and “efficiacy” there is still ambiguity over what measurements matter themost. One panel offered these three measurements: Literacy (particularly bygrade three); “Engagement” of both students and teachers; and the moreambiguous but still measurable: “Hope.” Particularly promising: test bedsaiming to find out what works for students in their cities, such as the iZonein New York and LEAP Innovation in Chicago.

Darn Definitions: “Adaptivity” and “personalization” were alsoterms that popped up in many conversations. But precisely how those terms gettranslated into products for students is still a work in progress.

The Gates Foundation team ruled the late night karoke scene.


Observed  

Overall last year's raw startups were more polished: The distance between startups and investors, who talk in Big Dollars, edged more closely together. Our guess: this year, they're within a order of magnitude or two.  

Teacher spotting: About 100 were here, including the likes of CesarChavez Academy Principal Barton Dassinger, Chris Liang-Vergara, now Chief,Learning Innovation at LEAP Innovations, Jin-Soo Huh, Director of Technology,KIPP Chicago and the articulate Arelys Villeda, the Chicago Public Schoolsdistrict and Tanesha Dixon from DC Public Schools. Their presence grounded anumber of the conversations. 

Students: Not so many. But some of the clever kids who are part of Roadtrip Nationparked their funky green van (see above) in the Phoencian’s driveway and interviewed attendees.

Celebrity lookout out: Laurene Powell Jobs and Carlos Watson ofOzy Media shared an lunch chat about “what’s going right” in schools. 

And no, most edtech entrepreneurs and investors are *not* tallerthan Magic Johnson, who showed up for a late afternoon chat to talk about what his centers are doing to close the achievement gap. But let ‘em climb up on a chair and you get a differentview.  

And the Winners... 

Winners of the second annual Return on Education Award were the following: 

Code.org -- for Modern Language 

Roadtrip Nation -- for Student Support 

2U -- for Partnerships

Learnist -- for KaizenEDU 

Clever -- for Learning Infrastructure, Analytics & Platform 

DreamBox Learning -- for STEM

TSL Education -- for Teacher Support  

Renaissance Learning -- for Knowledge as Currency 

Imagine K12 -- for ROE Accelerator 

General Assembly -- for Modern Curriculum 

Quizlet -- for New Gen Content 

Summit Public Schools -- for "New" Schools 

Parchment -- Overall 2014 ROE Winner

More summaries by the Getting Smart team are hereand here. And if you have the time, here are all the videos. 

Editor's Note: GSV Capital and Don Graham are investors in EdSurge; the Gates Foundation has also supported some EdSurge projects. 

What Happened at ASU-GSV.....

By Betsy Corcoran     Apr 28, 2014

What Happened at ASU-GSV.....

More so than most any other education technology event,last week’s ASU-GSV Summit, which brought 2,000 entrepreneurs, investors and,yes, educators (there was a corps of 100) together at the Phoenician hotel, inScottsdale, AZ, is a triathalon networking event:  

The Chase: Chase prospective partners and fundersup and down the escalators of the luxurious Phoenician hotel;

The Shake: Ricochet through the lobby outside theGrand Ballroom, shaking hands with acquaintances as you type-jab at your mobilephone to arrange your next appointment;

InfoDownload: Dart into a keynote talk or panel, plantyourself in a chair and tap into the edtech zeitgeist for a few minutes. Extrapoints if you simultaneously charge your phone or manage to wolf downlunch.   

Tom Vander Ark, founder of Getting Smart, surelyearned the gold by clockingan impressive 132 meetings, and moderating a panel on how to deliver equalaccess to education andwriting it up here.

And just in case someone asks you what else happened, here’s cheatsheet of whatwe heard and overheard at the Summit:

Headliners

Why here, why now? More than anytimebefore, conference organizers GSV and ASU emphasized the “why” of theconference: Why develop, invest or use education technology? Because, asserted GSV chairman, Michael Moe, the American dream—thebelief that a child will build a better life than his or her parents—isendangered, particularly for immigrants. A majority of students in 18 ofAmerica’s 50 states live in or near the poverty live, he noted. “It’s aboutwhat you know, not where you go,” Moe noted. His touchstone acronym: EIEIO—or“education, innovation, entrepreneurism, immigration and opportunity.” And here's the video. 

TheDream.us: Don Graham, former publisher of the Washington Postand now head of GrahamHoldings, offered his solution for helping undocumented immigrant childrenpay for college: The Dreamers’ program aims to cover tuition for qualifyingDACA students at schools and organizations (including Kaplan) that grantdegrees for $25K (total for the four years). Graham, who has raised $31 millionfor the program that is less than a year old, is stumping for $100 million. (Kaplan’sinvolvement is through a nonprofit arm.) EdSurge’s Betsy Corcoran gotto ask the questions.

Jeb Bush Revving? Even though he was ailing from a nasty cold, Jeb Bush made a passionatepitch for school choice and accountability. He certainly seems campaignready.He saluted Julie Young,who created Florida Virtual School as the “godmother” of digital learning.He gave shoutouts to LearnZillion, Remind101 and Edmodo, as organizations thatare helping teachers and students.  “Instead of excuses, we should be focused on engagingevery child in our education system,” Bush said.

And what about all that "chitter-chatter, yik yak or whatever you call it" about innovation in education? Michael M. Crow, President of Arizona State University who is building what he calls a "new American university," tried to lay to rest some of the worries about education innovation: It's not about replacing teachers with machines, or shedding what some see as an "archaic academic culture" or adding in some special genius. Instead, "It's about culture change"--at many levels, Crow said, especially "...around the notion of the empowerment of individualized learning." Here's the video. 

Heard

Of the 250 companies that made 6-minutepresentations at GSV, 40% were founded or are led by women.

Sandra Day O’Connor, the first femaleSupreme Court Justice: The US has made progress in equal opportunities sincethe 1960s but, yep, we have a ways to go. We still need Affirmative Action, shesaid, for the foreseeable future.  

InBloom CEO IwanStreichenberger shared the decision to “wind down” themassive development that would have collected and managed student information. InBloom’stechnology is open source; its APIs, dashboard and collection of tools are available for downloading here. Expect tosee something emerge from these ashes.

Palo Alto-based startup Declara, which is building a sophisticatedlearning social network, said ithas raised beaucoup bucks: $16 million in a round led by GSV Capital.Overheard: the team is still prowling for more.

Stacey Childress of the Gates Foundation debuted a study of teacherswhich reports they want better digital tools but they only use about half ofall those available. Barely more than half of those teachers say the tools areeffective. Edsurgereport here; Childress’blog post about the study here.

Reed Hastings, Netflix founder and CEO and long-time edtech supporter particularly of DreamBox, deliveredseveral succinct messages to entrepreneurs: If at first you succeed…prepare fora nose dive. What’s the best way to survive a crisis? Build a team that comestogether in tough times rather than one that bails. Hastings worries that toofrequently in education,  we mistake“oscillations” for “progress.” Politically elected school boards swapsuperintendents in and out too much for schools to make steady, long-termprogress, he charged. What Hastings would like to see: charters educating 80%of American students.

Google’s Jaime Casap took a packed room ofcompanies to task: Don’t build edtech products that simply reinforce old anddamaged practices. Next question: So what’s brewing in Google that will takeeducation to a new level?

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble?Yep, we’re in an edtech bubble, declared WeldNorth CEO Jonathan Grayer (who snapped up Truenorthlogic and Imagine Learningin April) and Senior Managing Director Chris Hoehn-Saric of Sterling Partners. ButGrayer noted that bubbles aren’t all bad, in part because they drawtalent.Here’s EdSurge columnist, FrankCatalano’s bubblish commentary in GeekWire.

Overheard (or not so much)

MIA: MOOCs. Only one panel dealt specifically withMOOCs and there was far less hubbub on the topic than in the past.  

Research, wherefore art thou? They could have been morediscussion of brain science and what we know about learning, noted someattendees.

Data, data, data: What really matters? Althoughthere was much discussion of the importance of looking at student “outcomes,”and “efficiacy” there is still ambiguity over what measurements matter themost. One panel offered these three measurements: Literacy (particularly bygrade three); “Engagement” of both students and teachers; and the moreambiguous but still measurable: “Hope.” Particularly promising: test bedsaiming to find out what works for students in their cities, such as the iZonein New York and LEAP Innovation in Chicago.

Darn Definitions: “Adaptivity” and “personalization” were alsoterms that popped up in many conversations. But precisely how those terms gettranslated into products for students is still a work in progress.

The Gates Foundation team ruled the late night karoke scene.


Observed  

Overall last year's raw startups were more polished: The distance between startups and investors, who talk in Big Dollars, edged more closely together. Our guess: this year, they're within a order of magnitude or two.  

Teacher spotting: About 100 were here, including the likes of CesarChavez Academy Principal Barton Dassinger, Chris Liang-Vergara, now Chief,Learning Innovation at LEAP Innovations, Jin-Soo Huh, Director of Technology,KIPP Chicago and the articulate Arelys Villeda, the Chicago Public Schoolsdistrict and Tanesha Dixon from DC Public Schools. Their presence grounded anumber of the conversations. 

Students: Not so many. But some of the clever kids who are part of Roadtrip Nationparked their funky green van (see above) in the Phoencian’s driveway and interviewed attendees.

Celebrity lookout out: Laurene Powell Jobs and Carlos Watson ofOzy Media shared an lunch chat about “what’s going right” in schools. 

And no, most edtech entrepreneurs and investors are *not* tallerthan Magic Johnson, who showed up for a late afternoon chat to talk about what his centers are doing to close the achievement gap. But let ‘em climb up on a chair and you get a differentview.  

And the Winners... 

Winners of the second annual Return on Education Award were the following: 

Code.org -- for Modern Language 

Roadtrip Nation -- for Student Support 

2U -- for Partnerships

Learnist -- for KaizenEDU 

Clever -- for Learning Infrastructure, Analytics & Platform 

DreamBox Learning -- for STEM

TSL Education -- for Teacher Support  

Renaissance Learning -- for Knowledge as Currency 

Imagine K12 -- for ROE Accelerator 

General Assembly -- for Modern Curriculum 

Quizlet -- for New Gen Content 

Summit Public Schools -- for "New" Schools 

Parchment -- Overall 2014 ROE Winner

More summaries by the Getting Smart team are hereand here. And if you have the time, here are all the videos. 

Editor's Note: GSV Capital and Don Graham are investors in EdSurge; the Gates Foundation has also supported some EdSurge projects. 

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