Pitchin’ In: After a two-hour pitch fest in Austin Tuesday morning, the ten companies pitching at SxSWedu’s annual competition LAUNCHedu have been narrowed to just 3. Each company spoke for three minutes, then answered questions from the judges and audience for a further six. Judges Dan Carroll of Clever, Jennie Maglera of Academy for Urban School Leadership/Chicago Public Schools and Ulrik Christensen of McGraw Hill Education made the selections:
Ideas Box: Non-profit Libraries Without Borders created the Ideas Box to improve the state of education in hard-to-reach locations around the globe. Ideas Box is a “media center in a kit that can be set up in less than 20 minutes.” The Box contains a generator, server, cameras, TV, e-readers and other equipment, and the container itself unfolds to become furniture for students. Ideas Box was an audience favorite; upon conclusion of the presentation, Judge Christensen immediately volunteered his time and expertise to the project.
Pear Deck: Designed to turn lecture into active learning, Pear Deck lets teachers create interactive assessments and presentations--students interact individually with questions within the tool while teachers monitor both individual and class progress. The company hails from Iowa City, Iowa--or, as they described it during their pitch, the “Silicon Prairie.” (Read what educators have to say about Pear Deck here.)
Zaption: “Students love video--but video is passive learning,” observed Zaption CEO Chris Walsh early in his pitch. Zaption aims to solve this problem by embedding text, pictures and questions into online videos. The team relies heavily on data science to back up its work; as Walsh described during the Q&A, “There’s a huge gap between what people think they’re learning from video and what they’re actually learning.” (Read what educators have to say about Zaption here.)
All 3 companies will compete in the LAUNCHedu Competition Showdown Round on Wednesday, March 11. Congratulations, and good luck to all 3! (Humble brag: We’re pleased as punch that 2 out of the 3 have attended our Tech for Schools Summits.)