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When an Edtech Company Folds

Source | LinkedIn : By Betsy (Elizabeth) Corcoran

People start companies for all kinds of reasons. Jason Singer, a high school principal and former teacher, had the best kind:

“I was desperate to find a reading platform that deeply engaged my students, gave them agency to choose and read the books they love and to do so in community together. I wanted a platform that would provide my teachers with data they needed to personalize reading instruction and an intuitive interface to place their own assessments inside the texts they were teaching.”

Yesterday Singer shared an email announcing the closing of Curriculet, his four-year digital-reading company. (EdSurge’s story here.) He had done many things right: He raised $1.8 million in venture funding from investors including NewSchools Venture Seed Fund. He formed partnerships with brand-name publishers like HarperCollins and USA Today to offer students engaging content. Singer also created  “curriculets,” Common Core-aligned questions, embedded in the digital texts. Along the way, Curriculet won over many teachers and students: some 1.2 million signed up to use the tool.

So what happened?

The most provocative technology spurs us to change how we live and work. Curriculet created a platform that took aim at changing the practices of both teachers and students. And few tasks are as monumental as changing long-time habits.

For instance, instead of just assigning a text and later handing out a quiz, Curriculet encouraged teachers to annotate texts with videos and other materials. Curriculet also offered an expansive library of choices—which in theory meant that a class of 30 students could read 30 different books. Students, accustomed to reading—or skimming—found in Curriculet an interactive tool that let their teachers know just how far they had gotten into the text by delivering usage data and the results of embedded quizzes.

Curriculet tried to help teachers cross the bridge to new practice. For instance, it paid teachers to write curriculets and embedded those materials in texts. But the best use of the tool came from energetic teachers who created their own materials and plunged ahead, including by giving students more freedom to go beyond the usual prescribed books.

Read On…

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