Learnboost: making data useful for kids
I am not sure much additional commentary is necessary on the drosophilae versus dinosaur debate but for a laugh and some perspective, I thought I would highlight one entrepreneur who turned the debate on its head and decided to treat VC funds like super angels, proving that they, too, sometimes hunt in packs.
So a quick word on why we (and some other folks you might know) funded LearnBoost and the team composed of Rafael Corrales, Guillermo Rauch and Thianh Lu et. al.. Students generate a ton of useful data points over their academic career, all through K-12 education. But between paper, proprietary databses and desktop software, it usually gets lost. Learnboost is quite simply an Open Source gradebook. Folks like Pearson (makers of the ingrained PowerSchool system) seem to have stopped innovating, and this industry really feels ripe for change.
We recently put some money into Grockit where my partner Jeff Fagnan joined the board. Grockit focuses on the top of the pyramid: the actual learning. You could imagine data provided by Learnboost being used to help students optimise their coursework on Grockit, with a level of granularity and relevance that is hard to achieve today.
The trends here are simple:
- Data leverage: we collect a ton of data points but have no useful way of leveraging them intelligently and in context
- Empowerment: if you refuse the notion of illiteracy in any subject, the best way to fight this is at a granular, data-driven level where the student or his parents gain visibility and a better understanding of academic performance
- Personalisation: just as in healthcare, the purpose of companies like Grockit and Learnboost is to help developed personalised learning solutions
As my friend Sean Park keeps saying, we live in the age of markets and platforms. We need data providers like Learnbook to enable application and marketplace providers like Grockit to help kids get better, targeted education. If I wanted to sound like a marsupial, I would say we're slowly Hacking Education. That may sound passe in a few years though :-)
ReadWriteWeb: Tracking what 21st century Schools should read
Learnboost Blog: Rafael takes a swipe at Kaplan Ventures (and might be doing some SEO as well :-))
Success for our friends at VentureHacks and their Angellist
Xconomy's usual high quality editorial