In a classic Isaac Asimov story, “The Fun They Had,” children of the future are educated in their homes by computerized instructors. But many educators in the present are divided over whether or not technology improves education, with some firmly believing that modern tech can help students learn with others taking the position that traditional methods are best and that fancy gadgets and software are a waste of resources. Well, for educators and school districts that embrace the former philosophy over the latter, there is good news. Imagine K12 is a Silicon Valley-based company that hopes to help educational startups nurture and grow, and it has brought millions of dollars to educational tech companies in the past 18 months.
The Imagine K12 paradigm works in several phases. Companies can apply to take part in two annual sessions. These sessions last for approximately three months and bring companies together in California for an intensive session about jumpstarting businesses. In addition, these companies are granted up to $20,000 in seed funding to get them started (in exchange for a small percentage of the business). During these sessions, companies get to take advantage of the Imagine K12 founders’ business knowledge, meeting with these startup experts on a weekly basis. Participating companies also attend seminars on various startup topics and networking events. They also get to practice their pitches and demonstrations to prepare for investor meetings – and meetings with school boards and superintendents!
The real test for many of these startups comes when they meet with experienced educators. On these “educator days,” the entrepreneurs are faced with an extremely intelligent and critical audience. Educators know that there is no magic wand that will cure all of their students’ woes, but they are looking for any advantage that technology can give them. Recent startups working with Imagine K12 have involved a LinkedIn (News - Alert)-like professional network for educators, an educational technology app store, an education-focused search engine and more.
Ideally, Imagine K12 will prove beneficial for everyone. Educational tech companies that have great ideas and great products will learn how to generate money, hone their pitches and find the right audience. Likewise, educators around the country will then have access to cutting edge technology that, if implemented properly, can make their lives easier and their classrooms better. And, in the end, if this benefits the students, then it is all worthwhile. After all, not many teachers are in it for the money, and, until Asimov’s dream is realized, these flesh and blood people need to find ways to engage and reach their students, for, as the saying goes, they are our future.
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Edited by Rachel Ramsey