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Blog post by Julia Mongeau

Entrepreneurs and educators gathered at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston, MA on Monday to hear pitches and gain insight into the emergent education technology products at LearnLaunch’s Teacher and Edtech Product Summit.

In partnership with LearnPlatform, teachers, superintendents and other representatives in education came together to test new products, offer feedback, rate innovative technologies and gain new insight into products that will enhance today’s education methods and tools.IMG_1913

“Educators need to connect to product,” Liam Pisano, Managing Director of LearnLaunch said.

Teachers, in particular, have the closest connection to the students in their classroom, yet many teachers feel they cannot influence teaching at the district or state level.

Among other challenges to introducing more tech into the classrooms is integration, meaning the ability to have time, access, and funds to help teachers acquire these new technologies and learn how to use them and teach them appropriately.

As Diane Hauser from Boston Public Schools explained, knowledge and product awareness are necessary to integration. Chu Ly from Boston Public Schools added that teachers need support to ensure that they use and teach the programs effectively and appropriately.

Sarah McGuire, social studies advisor in Duxbury, has a strong interest in implementing more tech in the classroom. Working in a one-to-one school district, she is amazed at where her school system is now compared to three years ago, in regards to the use of technology. She attended the summit to learn about the new products and hopefully get out in front of new trends.

IMG_1919In McGuire’s experience, teacher willingness is necessary for successful implementation of tech into the classroom. Newer teachers are sometimes more likely to embrace learning a new program, while some veteran teachers may still fear that tech tools will make learning “robotic.”

Companies ranging from literacy and language arts programs, to math and science programs, walked teachers and educators through product tutorials. These companies not only offered solutions for teachers, yet also sought feedback from the teachers.

Founder and CEO of Junior Explorers, Ravi Patel said “Teachers are our best allies.” Junior Explorers is a program meant to inspire enthusiasm for environmental science while simultaneously training the next generation of environmental stewards. Junior Explorers, like the other edtech startups, were at the summit to for the same reason: to connect with the teachers.

Teacher feedback was earnestly sought throughout the summit. Teachers had twenty-minute blocks to meet with startups and test products themselves. As Steve Herbst, software developer and creator of Topical Storm explained, he hoped to have teachers try his product and offer comments and suggestions. Topical Storm is an engaging, virtual writing platform that helps students build strong, coherent essays. Comments and anecdotes from teachers who have used Topical Storm are extremely beneficial to the improvement of the software.

Additional participating companies included: BlocksCAD, Cashtivity, CodeCampKidz, ChalkTalk, Core5 by Lexia Learning, Invite Education , iReady by Curriculum Associates, Maze Fire, My Moral Compass, Prepmagic.com, Spatica, Storyboard That, Studyo, and TeachersConnect.

The summit closed with time for participants to give a final pitch and for teachers to complete assessments of the products they tried, using LearnPlatform’s rating system.

As the summer draws to a close and teachers prepare their return to the classroom, new trends in education technology will continue to offer solutions for the improvement of education.