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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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How to Use the Startup Model to Ignite Innovation

In a world of what sometimes feels surrounded by so many "we can'ts," it was absolutely refreshing to see people just "doing." No talking -- just action. There were no stigmas, no wondering "what if," no future commitments being thought of -- just pure discovery of ideas and exploring the path where those ideas traveled and morphed.

Startup Weekends happen all over the world and have one goal in mind: to create a culture of learning through the act of creating. Since their inception, Startup Weekends have accumulated an impressive 300+ events, 30,000 attendees, 2,500+ startups created, and a growing worldwide network of 30,000 of entrepreneurs, visionaries, and thinkers. But at the end of the day, it's not about the stats. It's about the ability to empower people and communities to make a difference in the world through innovation.

Of the many ideas and startups explored at Startup Weekend Edu, here are a few that caught my eye. Some are free services that educators can take advantage of today -- some are just innovative ideas. Check them out and get inspired:

1. InfoRate is an easy (and free) way to send group messages (via SMS). You can use this service to communicate with parents, your class, your sports team you may coach, or even your colleagues. Keep your eyes out for an iPhone app and the ability to message people through their preferred medium (Twitter/Facebook/Text/Email).

2. Qeyno is a career exploration game that helps inform students about possible career options and offers guidance on how to achieve them. Although it's not built yet, this is another one to keep your eye out for.

3. GoalBook is an online platform that was created by an English and special education teacher to help teachers, parents, and students collaboratively track progress towards, you guessed it, goals. Many special education teachers are adopting GoalBook to keep track of IEP goals and other educators are using it to implement and track blended learning and response to intervention (RTI) strategies.

4. Alum.us is an online engagement platform that provides alumni networks for public high schools and community colleges with an aim to help give back to schools in need.

After experiencing the culture and strategies embraced at Startup Edu SF, I couldn't help but wonder: what if education could harness this do-it-yourself (DIY) culture of learning by creating? Imagine what learning would look like if educators and student had the freedom to creatively feed their curiosity for learning. In education we talk about the necessity for the U.S. to become Internationally competitive, but many have the false assumption that standardized tests are somehow going to help make us more competitive. Events like Startup Edu are great models for how our students could learn how to collaborate with their peers, think critically, and solve problems creatively.

Even if you don't consider yourself entrepreneurial, it's worth checking out a Startup Weekend EDU weekend near you. Just give it a chance and experience it. I bet you'll end up exploring ideas and connecting with some inspiring people. And just maybe it'll help inspire you to emphasize innovation, teamwork, collaboration, entrepreneurship and the exploration of curiosities in the classroom. Thanks to Grockit for hosting this event and helping bring the culture of innovation in the classroom.

Comments (4)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

KooBits EDU's picture
KooBits EDU
Engaging the Digital Kids

Qeyno and Stacks sound like potential successes, concept-wise. Stacks could evolve into a strong educators' network where resources can be more easily shared across different countries and education systems.

Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Director of Social Media Strategy and Marketing @Edutopia, edcamp organizer
Staff

Qeyno and Stacks were very strong concepts -- the key is implementation and as you mentioned, distribution. Imagine if an entire education system was using one tech platform to share ideas/data and collaborate. Thanks for your comment!

[quote]Qeyno and Stacks sound like potential successes, concept-wise. Stacks could evolve into a strong educators' network where resources can be more easily shared across different countries and education systems.[/quote]

Kevin F. Adler's picture
Kevin F. Adler
Founder of Alumn.us

Last week, Kalimah Priforce (founder of Qeyno) and I attended a strategic planning session for a large organization that promotes Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics majors and careers to young girls. The org has reached hundreds of thousands of girls through conferences highlighting STEM and women who have made a difference in their STEM-related profession. But follow-up programs and services are needed; a user-friendly career-exploration game like Qeyno would be transformative.

Melaine's picture
Melaine
Second grade teacher

What a great collaborative event! It was refreshing to read about these innovative startups. They are certainly easy for classroom teachers to use and implement right away. I was impressed by the fact that people were spending the weekend collaborating and doing rather than just talking about great ideas that would assist educators. I loved GoalBook. This seems like a wonderful tool to use to document interventions for RTI. Keep up the good work!

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