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“Hacking” Education at #TCSWEDU 2016

“Hacking” Education at #TCSWEDU 2016

Can you solve the challenges facing education in a single weekend? You can certainly get a great start. 

This year, Edmentum was proud to be a sponsor of the Twin Cities Startup Weekend Education (#TCSWEDU) in downtown Minneapolis. The purpose of the event was to pull together people of various skillsets—educators, engineers, marketers, etc.—to collaboratively launch startups that seek to solve education’s most pressing problems. The objective is to go from “Pitch-to-Prototype” in one weekend. Lots of great ideas and prototypes were presented, including:

  • A tool to help teachers manage their continuing education requirements and certification
  • A matchmaking app to connect mentors and students
  • A supplemental teaching app focused on using film to make instruction more engaging
  • An app that uses games to show environmental effects of carbon emissions
  • A courseware app that focuses on African American culture to increase student engagement

Everything starts on Friday evening and is wrapped by Sunday, making for a whirlwind weekend of education innovation. Here’s a taste of what the schedule looked like:

Friday: Educators and others who have ideas or challenges broadly related to education can make a 1-minute pitch to the group of attendees. This year, there were nearly 30 pitches made. Attendees listened each one, then chose the 10 “best” ideas and formed teams to tackle them.

Saturday: This was the heavy-lifting day. Teams validated their ideas, got advice from volunteer mentors, developed a business strategy, and built a prototype—talk about productivity!

Sunday:  The educators and teams presented their prototypes and business plans to a panel of “shark-tank” judges. The judges took some time to deliberate, and then the weekend was closed out with the announcement of the three winning teams:

  1. Students Solve – A crowdsourcing app to help students raise money for student causes. Meet the team on twitter at @StudentsSolve.
  2. EDJI – A tool for using emoji pictograms to support close reading (no kidding—this was really cool). Check them out on twitter at @edjinotes.
  3. Noteworthy – A framework to help college students take notes.

#TCSWEDU was a great opportunity to watch creativity and entrepreneurship in action. I want to extend a big congratulations and thank-you to everyone who shared their expertise and passion for education by participating. And for anyone reading this post who has an interest in entrepreneurship, watch for other similar startup weekends, hackathons, and accelerators to come! They are an outstanding way to take your idea to the next level. 

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darin.rasmussen's picture
Darin Rasmussen

Darin joined Edmentum in October, 2013 after serving in a variety of marketing and strategy leadership roles with Thomson Reuters, most recently as the director of state and local government markets, driving growth in that multi-hundred-million dollar segment. Prior to that, his formidable legal career included a stint as the Illinois assistant attorney general. Darin graduated from the prestigious Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. In his role as vice-president of strategy and corporate development, Darin is responsible for defining and articulating the Edmentum strategic vision, and ensuring that the organization develops in a way that is consistent with that vision.