Two Important Things to Know If You Are An Entrepreneur Focused On Education Technology


Last week’s MIT Enterprise Forum was quite invigorating.  I met people who are truly passionate about building solutions to improve education and classroom learning experiences.  Many entrepreneurs had the opportunity to hear directly from industry veterans with deep understanding of classroom needs.  Panelists included:

  • Dr. Randy Reina, Senior VP of Digital Product development at McGraw-Hill Education’s Center for Digital innovation.
  • Lindsey Own, middle school teacher and technology evangelist in education and organizer of Startup Weekend Seattle EDU
  • Jessie Wooley-Wilson, Chair, President & CEO at DreamBox Learning, a Seattle adaptive math curriculum company for K-12

Moderator and industry expert, Frank Catalano, engaged the panel and the audience in conversation about key trends in education, common misconceptions of the role of technology in the classroom and the opportunities that exist for entrepreneurs interested in this space. 

Much was covered during the evening and there were two discussion points that were particularly striking to me.   

First, Jessie Wooley-Wilson stated that “technology is not a panacea.”  She explained that many entrepreneurs believe that technology alone leads to improvement in education. However, they need to understand that a teacher’s time is very limited and technology solutions must be simple and easy to implement.  Jessie made a good point when she said that classroom technologies should inspire and empower teachers. Solutions that are too complex or difficult to implement will not yield adoption and progress.

Lindsey Own also weighed in with her teacher’s perspective as she addressed Frank’s closing question about mistakes that entrepreneurs should avoid when considering the K-12 education space.  She advised entrepreneurs to think beyond the children because teachers need support as well.  Having a mom who is a teacher to pre-school children, I whole-heartedly support this sentiment.  I have seen my mom and the other teachers work very hard in building curriculum, designing lessons and organizing activities in their classrooms. With the right support and tools, these dedicated educators could spend more time with the children and offer greater opportunities for learning and development.

These are just two of the many excellent points made that evening.  Did you attend the event?  Please share your thoughts or key takeaways.  Also be sure to check out the full video of Tuesday’s event on our YouTube channel.  

MIT Enterprise Forum events bring together networking, information  and passionate people interested in learning and sharing their experiences.  Please join us at our next event to check out our six finalists demonstrate some of the best emerging products and services and share how they created them:

Northwest Startup DEMO

Wed, 12/05/2012 - 5:30pm - 8:30pm

One Union Square Boardroom (in One Union Square building)