Observations from NYEdtech Week 2023
All the Edtech News that's Fit to Print: Finn-Tech, Shark Tanks, Ben Nelson at AI+EDU, and IBM's grand ambitions
Observations from NYEdtech Week
By Alex Sarlin
From the Google offices in Chelsea to NYU in the West Village to the Relay Graduate School of Education down by Wall Street to the P-Tech High School in Brooklyn to the GSV Ventures offices on the East Side and the main event in the Times Center in… er, Times Square… the Big Apple was alive with Edtech.
We at Edtech Insiders, along with our friends at Magic Edtech, had a great time connecting with Edtech folks of all stripes at Versa, Herald Square rooftop- it was great to connect with so many readers and listeners there!
NYEdtech Week reliably brings together West Coast Big tech satellites (Google, Microsoft and AWS) NY Edtech stalwarts (Newsela, Kaplan, Teachers Pay Teachers) and a ton of early-stage and eminently approachable Edtech startups.
New York can be a tough and confusing place for education. It’s at once:
Home to the largest and most diverse public school system in the country (students communicate in 151 languages other than English) and to many of the most shockingly expensive and exclusive private schools in the US
A status-obsessed city that too often considers teaching a low-status profession (see the NY Post’s decades-long obsession with ‘rubber rooms’)
A real estate market that carries a $416 per square foot price tag… in which Columbia and NYU somehow own 14 million square feet of property (yes, that would be almost $6 billion dollars worth)
A political hotspot that recently capped class sizes at 20 students… which will lead to a coming shortfall of 17,000 teachers that, by the way, will (yet again) benefit wealthier schools disproportionately.
More than anything, NYEdtech Week reminded me how much New Yorkers like keeping things real; unlike some West Coast events where Edtech companies tend to emulate Silicon Valley culture, focusing on mega-funding rounds from tech investors and showcasing their modern designs, NY founders (and even investors!) come across much more low-key, straight-talking and ready to roll up their sleeves to tackle hard problems in education despite a heaping helping of well-earned cynicism.
This is especially true of ex-educator founders. I spent a while chatting with Teacherpreneur Orly Klapholz of Inlier Learning— as a former Special Ed teacher in the Bronx, Orly and her colleagues identified a pervasive issue that was seriously hurting learners: that multilingual students often slip through the cracks into attrition because their first language literacy levels and former education interruptions go unmeasured by English-only assessments. Yes, yes, the TAM here is sizable— 10% of all US K-12 students are English Language Learners— but for Orly and other Teacherpreneurs, that’s not really the point.
Other noteworthy news from NY Edtechweek:
EdVisorly, which supports the community college to university transfer process (and whose founder Manny Smith we had the pleasure of interviewing at ASU GSV), was the SharkTank 2023 winner
The 2023 Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition showcased some seriously inspiring Edtech companies. Winners included:
Edvisorly received a $100,000 investment from Conscious Venture Partners
Unlocked Labs, which provides educational opportunities to the incarcerated, won the $40,000 Michael & Lori Milken Family Foundation Grand Prize and the $5,000 Audience Choice Prize presented by Osage Venture Partners
Skizaa, which supports data collection in impoverished schools around the world, won the $25,000 Cognativ Inc. Prize
Story Shares, which publishes engaging and relevant stories for students reading below grade level, won the $10,000 Magnitude Digital Prize
HolonIQ showcased their newly released North America Edtech 200:
The ‘advanced technology’ category got us a little turned around, as XR companies seemed to far outnumber AI companies:
AI companies: Amira, Ello, Atypical, Reflex, Merlyn Mind, Elicit, Maximal, Eightfold, Roybi
XR/AR/VR: Praxis Labs, Prisms, Pixaera, TransfrVR, Mursion, Strivr, Dreamscape, VictoryXR, Motive.io, Osso, Red 6, Simx, Talespin, Zenerate
This might be a sign that few AI Edtech companies have broken out of the pack… that AI is simply not considered ‘advanced’ by the HolonIQ crew (AI companies like TeachFX, Magicschool, Packback, Prof Jim and Workera made the HolonIQ 200, but all in different categories)
Finally, Edtech got a new celebrity investor in basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal (rather, Dr. Shaquille O’Neal), new investor in reading tech Edsoma
Of course, there was plenty more going on at NYEdtech Week, including tons of great panels and hallway conversations (including a panel with our very own Ben Kornell and a bevy of Cooley lawyers talking about the legal issues around AI). In upcoming weeks, look for a podcast episode with some of the standout stars!
But for now… let’s look to the future with:
The AI + EDU Virtual Conference
The AI + EDU Virtual Conference is right around the corner! Right now we are at 297 registrations and counting! We can’t wait to see you all there!
If you haven’t gotten a ticket yet, you can get a ticket here to join us for this day long virtual conference full of speakers you won’t want to miss. Speaking of which… we are so excited to announce our first keynote speaker for the conference: Ben Nelson, the Chairman and CEO at Minerva Project!
We can’t wait to hear from Ben during his keynote on AI in education, the ethical factors involved with navigating the application of AI in an educational setting, and the impact this is having and will have on society at large. Join us at 12:00 pm EST to catch this amazing keynote!
If you love what we do at Edtech Insiders, the best way you can support us is by attending and sharing in this experience of learning from and with each other! We really hope to see you there.
Edtech Insiders Live Events
Edtech Happy Hour
Our next Bay Area Edtech Happy Hour is coming up on October 11th in San Francisco at the Common Sense Media Headquarters! This is a monthly recurring event where we come together as a community to connect, collaborate, and enjoy a drink together! Anyone is welcome to attend.
We’d love to see you there, please RSVP if you plan to attend!
Top Edtech Headlines
1. IBM to Train 2M Students for AI Careers
In response to the growing demand for AI skills, IBM announced their goal to train 2 million learners in artificial intelligence by 2026. They plan to accomplish this through expanding offerings on their free learning platform IBM SkillsBuild, as well as through partnerships with universities across the world.
2. Will AI Help Disrupt The College Degree’s Influence in Hiring?
“AI’s going to make it virtually impossible for a one-off moment of learning [like a degree] to last an entire career.” - LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky, Talent Connect Summit
As AI continues to become more relevant in the workplace, staying up to date with AI skills will likely become a differentiating factor in hiring that traditional education models simply don’t support at this time.
As a recent New York Post article covers, AI could become the factor that ultimately tips hiring from being credential based to being skills based, as the types of skills that are rapidly changing and shifting can’t be encompassed by a single training, degree, or certificate.
3. NYC District Goes From Banning ChatGPT to Exploring AI’s Potential
New York City Public Schools plan to open an Artificial Intelligence Policy Lab to support the nation’s largest school district in approaching and incorporating AI technology into their system.
It was only in May of 2023 that New York reversed the decision to block ChatGPT from schools entirely, so this shift is a landmark decision in AI implementation, incorporation, and execution in large scale public school systems. We are so excited to see where this project goes, and looking forward to what will likely be new AI specific policies and programs coming from this lab.
4. How Well Did Edtech Support Students During the Pandemic?
Considering the amount of money that edtech companies made due to the pandemic, the AP News recently posed the question: how much did edtech solutions actually support students during the pandemic?
While the stance their article takes is overwhelming critical towards edtech companies, and measuring the success of a fast paced shift to online learning during a global crisis is not exactly a simple thing to measure, it does highlight an important point: as a field we need to improve at tracking impact and compiling more effective research that new edtech tools being introduced into the market aren’t only ground-breaking, but also effective.
This edition of the Edtech Insiders Newsletter is sponsored by Tuck Advisors.
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Recent Edtech Insiders Podcast Episodes
We have had SO MANY amazing guests on The Edtech Insiders Podcast in the last two weeks. Make sure to check out our recent episodes, including:
Funding, Mergers, and Acquisitions
Our latest reporting on funding, mergers, and acquisitions comes from Matt Tower’s publication Edtech Thoughts. Matt does an incredible job of covering the latest funding, news, industry updates, and more! If you love Edtech Insiders, be sure to subscribe to Matt’s newsletter as well.
Concentric Education Solutions raises $5M / US, Student Support (Analytics) / New Markets Venture Partners
Class Companion raises $4M / US, Teacher Tools / Index Ventures, OpenAI Startup Fund
TAP raises $1M / Netherlands, Career Bootcamp / Wamda Capital, Loyal VC, World Bank
Nominis raises €340K / Spain, Curriculum Materials (English Language Learning) / Ship2B Ventures, First Drop, Aticco Ventures
Tranfr VR raises $40M / US, Virtual Reality / ABS Capital, JP Morgan Chase Impact Finance, Lumos Capital, Akkadian Ventures, Spring Tide Capital, Fireworks Ventures, Album
PowerUs raises €24M / Germany, Vocational Training / Eurazeo, HV Capital, General Catalyst
Cartwheel raises $20M / US, Mental Health / Menlo Ventures, Reach Capital, General Catalyst, Box Group, Able Partners
Cognota raises $5M / Canada, Corporate LMS / Grotech Ventures, IDEA Fund Partners, BDC Capital, Generation Ventures, CEAS Investments, Tyton Partners
StudentCrowd raises €2.9M / UK, Student Marketing & Recruitment / PwC Raise Ventures, Mercia Fund
Morphoses raises €2.1M / UK, Soft Skills Training / Uni.Fund
Teachme.to raises $2M / US, Consumer Upskilling / 1984 Ventures, Common Metal, Alumni Ventures
Lepaya raises $38M / Netherlands, Corporate Training
Ellucian acquires Tribal Group / US (UK), School Software Infrastructure
Accelerate Learning acquires Kide Science / US (Finnland) / Curriculum Materials
Learnster acquires Kaspian / Sweden / Corporate LMS
3B Scientific acquires Wallcur / Germany, Simulations
CollegeDekho acquires ImaginXP / India, Student Recruitment
eDynamic Learning acquires Learning Blade / US, Course Materials
Focus Learning bought out by the Brydon Group / US, Compliance Training
Edtech Insiders Staff Picks
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