Postsecondary Learning

EdStartup 101: How to Build an Edtech Company in 18 Weeks

By Betsy Corcoran     Aug 28, 2012

EdStartup 101: How to Build an Edtech Company in 18 Weeks

TED videos are delightful if you want to watch a memorableperformance. Webinars are handy if you're just game to listen and register theoccasional comment. But serious MOOCs, ormassive open online courses, aim to make you--and a group of collaborators--sweat.And sweat together.

Edstartup101, which starts today (Wednesday, August 29 at 11:00 a.m. ET), is exactly thisbreed of MOOC. And as one of its originators, Brigham Young professor DavidWiley, sees it, such online community building experience may be just what'sneeded to spur long-term innovation in education.

"I've been involved for 15years in grant projects--and each has been successful," Wiley says."But when the money runs out, all the good efforts stop." One way tocreate sustained impact, Wiley concluded, is to build companies that can turnpromising ideas into ongoing products or services, rather than one-timeprojects.

As of Tuesday, some 925 peopleindicated they want to take part in the 18-week long Edstartup 101; more than 120had completed the course registration, which includes submitting a short videoof yourself talking about why you're interested in edtech entrepreneurship.(Here's bloggerAudrey Watters' submission.Says Andrew Staroscik in his introductory video: "I'm motivated by the lights I see go onover my students' heads" when they see some of the interactiveillustrations for explaining science that he's created on his site, SciencePrimer.com. He's intrigued with the ideasof taking it further. "SciencePrimer's not much more than hobby at thispoint," he muses, "but with some additional resources and the rightcollaborators, it has all the makings of an edtech startup."

That's just the spirit that thequartet of education specialists who started Edstartup 101 hope to see. Threeof them hail from Brigham Young University: Todd Manwaring, Aaron Miller andDavid Wiley. The fourth, Richard Culatta, is currently the deputy director ofthe office of educational technology at the U.S. Department of Education. (Bios are here.) "There'an anti-entrepreneurial feeling in most of the schools of education,"Wiley observes. "I think that mindset is why there's such a slow pace ofinnovation in education." He hopes Edstartup 101 will encourage facultyand researchers in education schools to apply their ideas by building products--andcompanies.

Theclass is built around a graduate seminar that focuses on 10 topics that canhelp aspiring entrepreneurs move from articulating ideas for educationventures through constructing business models. Some 16 speakers have pledged to participate,including Knewton founder Jose Ferreira, Gates Foundation deputy director JoshJarrett, and Union Square Ventures investor Fred Wilson. (Full disclosure: I'm online, too,giving an overview of the startup space next week on Sept. 5. Like everyoneinvolved, this is a pro bono performance!)

Sessionsare supposed to be short on prepared remarks and long on Q&A, conducted in"Stack Overflow" style, where participants vote up the questions theymost want answered.

More important than the speakers, Wiley expects, will be the interactions amongthe participants. "Relationship building is an important part of the educationprocess," says Wiley.

Wiley knows a thing or two aboutrunning online classes. He was one of the first professors to run an onlinecollaborative class: his graduate level "Introduction to Open Education," held in late 2007, was taken by 50 students all over theworld. Creating a genuine community spirit, he says, was core to even thatfirst class.

The more recent super-sized MOOCsoffered by Udacity and Coursera leave him cold: "Those achieve scale byengineering people out of the loop," say, in part by having computers scorehomework or tests.

By contrast, "we're trying toengineer how to pull people further in," Wiley asserts. Homework (and there will be plenty) will include writing posts on a blog and making videos. Students are encouraged to comment andcritique each others' contributions. As the program grows, so, too, do thenumber of potential commentators on one another's work.

A dozen graduate students at Brigham Youngwill earn credit for taking the class. Everyone else takes the class for freebut no credit. "You can say that those graduate students are footing thebill," Wiley muses. "But I wouldn't have been able to get all thespeakers for a class of a dozen"--and he expects his students will alsobenefit from the feedback of all the online participants.

Theclass won't help people find funding--Wiley figures that's grist for EdStartup201. But success--for the program--does include witnessing the birth of acouple of new education ventures. "We like the 'nail it then scale it'approach," Wiley says. "Let's spend time to find real problems andnail down solutions."

Check out EdStartup 101here or follow it on Twitter (#edstartup).  


Postsecondary Learning

EdStartup 101: How to Build an Edtech Company in 18 Weeks

By Betsy Corcoran     Aug 28, 2012

EdStartup 101: How to Build an Edtech Company in 18 Weeks

TED videos are delightful if you want to watch a memorableperformance. Webinars are handy if you're just game to listen and register theoccasional comment. But serious MOOCs, ormassive open online courses, aim to make you--and a group of collaborators--sweat.And sweat together.

Edstartup101, which starts today (Wednesday, August 29 at 11:00 a.m. ET), is exactly thisbreed of MOOC. And as one of its originators, Brigham Young professor DavidWiley, sees it, such online community building experience may be just what'sneeded to spur long-term innovation in education.

"I've been involved for 15years in grant projects--and each has been successful," Wiley says."But when the money runs out, all the good efforts stop." One way tocreate sustained impact, Wiley concluded, is to build companies that can turnpromising ideas into ongoing products or services, rather than one-timeprojects.

As of Tuesday, some 925 peopleindicated they want to take part in the 18-week long Edstartup 101; more than 120had completed the course registration, which includes submitting a short videoof yourself talking about why you're interested in edtech entrepreneurship.(Here's bloggerAudrey Watters' submission.Says Andrew Staroscik in his introductory video: "I'm motivated by the lights I see go onover my students' heads" when they see some of the interactiveillustrations for explaining science that he's created on his site, SciencePrimer.com. He's intrigued with the ideasof taking it further. "SciencePrimer's not much more than hobby at thispoint," he muses, "but with some additional resources and the rightcollaborators, it has all the makings of an edtech startup."

That's just the spirit that thequartet of education specialists who started Edstartup 101 hope to see. Threeof them hail from Brigham Young University: Todd Manwaring, Aaron Miller andDavid Wiley. The fourth, Richard Culatta, is currently the deputy director ofthe office of educational technology at the U.S. Department of Education. (Bios are here.) "There'an anti-entrepreneurial feeling in most of the schools of education,"Wiley observes. "I think that mindset is why there's such a slow pace ofinnovation in education." He hopes Edstartup 101 will encourage facultyand researchers in education schools to apply their ideas by building products--andcompanies.

Theclass is built around a graduate seminar that focuses on 10 topics that canhelp aspiring entrepreneurs move from articulating ideas for educationventures through constructing business models. Some 16 speakers have pledged to participate,including Knewton founder Jose Ferreira, Gates Foundation deputy director JoshJarrett, and Union Square Ventures investor Fred Wilson. (Full disclosure: I'm online, too,giving an overview of the startup space next week on Sept. 5. Like everyoneinvolved, this is a pro bono performance!)

Sessionsare supposed to be short on prepared remarks and long on Q&A, conducted in"Stack Overflow" style, where participants vote up the questions theymost want answered.

More important than the speakers, Wiley expects, will be the interactions amongthe participants. "Relationship building is an important part of the educationprocess," says Wiley.

Wiley knows a thing or two aboutrunning online classes. He was one of the first professors to run an onlinecollaborative class: his graduate level "Introduction to Open Education," held in late 2007, was taken by 50 students all over theworld. Creating a genuine community spirit, he says, was core to even thatfirst class.

The more recent super-sized MOOCsoffered by Udacity and Coursera leave him cold: "Those achieve scale byengineering people out of the loop," say, in part by having computers scorehomework or tests.

By contrast, "we're trying toengineer how to pull people further in," Wiley asserts. Homework (and there will be plenty) will include writing posts on a blog and making videos. Students are encouraged to comment andcritique each others' contributions. As the program grows, so, too, do thenumber of potential commentators on one another's work.

A dozen graduate students at Brigham Youngwill earn credit for taking the class. Everyone else takes the class for freebut no credit. "You can say that those graduate students are footing thebill," Wiley muses. "But I wouldn't have been able to get all thespeakers for a class of a dozen"--and he expects his students will alsobenefit from the feedback of all the online participants.

Theclass won't help people find funding--Wiley figures that's grist for EdStartup201. But success--for the program--does include witnessing the birth of acouple of new education ventures. "We like the 'nail it then scale it'approach," Wiley says. "Let's spend time to find real problems andnail down solutions."

Check out EdStartup 101here or follow it on Twitter (#edstartup).  


STAY UP TO DATE ON EDTECH
News, research, and opportunities - sent weekly.
STAY UP TO DATE ON EDTECH
News, research, and opportunities - sent weekly.