‘Teacherpreneurs’ vie for startup funds

“Teacherpreneurs” — teachers with ed-tech ideas — competed for start-up funding at a Brooklyn event organized by 4.0 Schools.

“I’m a high school social studies teacher, and I had a problem,” (Eric) Nelson told more than 100 educators, entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts in a crowded Brooklyn loft. “My students were disengaged when learning about the world in which they lived in an era in which global competence matters more than ever.”

Inspired by fantasy football, he developed “Fantasy Geopolitics,” an interactive game in which students draft countries to teams and earn points as their picks come up in the news. He now teaches a “Fantasy Geopolitics” elective at a Minnesota charter school and is hoping for “Silicon Alley” funding to reach more teachers.

When Borne Digital‘s Daniel Fountenberry volunteered at a Harlem elementary school, he saw teachers provide different books and assignments to different groups. “The teacher was clearly overworked. She struggled to administer five different learning groups within one classroom. So I thought, what if a book could adapt to each child’s needs, so the students could read and learn together?”

Books That Grow, an e-reader, lets every student read the same story with easier or harder vocabulary. As students improve, the reading challenge grows.

Maya Gat left her teaching job at Bronx Community Charter School to develop Branching Minds.

The Web-based application lets users answer questions about areas where a child is struggling and generates a list of resources, from online tools and toys to classes and community resources, to help parents and teachers find necessary support systems.

Also up for funding was SmartestK12, an online platform that lets teachers transform documents into digital assignments.

About Joanne


  1. Technology always wins in the long run but politics can stymie the utilization of technology and in the long run we’re all dead. So, if we’re to get the benefits of the technology in some reasonable timeframe the politics will have to change.

    Fortunately the politics of education are changing and for the better.

    Hopefully, the benefits conferred by the technology will change the politics of education.. If there isn’t a change in the politics of education we could end up paying for a legacy education system while the rest of the world enjoys the benefits of the technology unencumbered by an expensive, ineffective public education system.

  2. SC Math Teacher says:

    Inevitable? Yes. Fun and exciting? Yes. Will the ed tech revolution improve student achievement beyond what it would be absent these ideas? Not sure. A long term controlled study is needed. The results would have a profound impact on the allocation of education funding, both public and private.

  3. SC Math Teacher says:

    I should add that I’m not referring to apps primarily focused on efficiency (e.g., Edmodo, Symbaloo), but, rather, apps whose primary focus is academic in nature, to include adaptive testing apps.