ISTE2015 Session – Create a Technology Start-Up in Your School

I decided to attend this session because it just sounded really interesting. The idea of starting a company while in school is just fascinating to me. When I was in school, I made a couple bucks selling TI-86 programs (in BASIC), and I just think the idea of not only allowing, but encouraging, our students to do the same is too cool.

1st point to be made: There is a sign language interpreter for this event. Watching sign language is fascinating.

The presenter, Dr. Lynn Hummel, paid for college by selling things on ebay. He was also in ebay Magazine as the biggest ebay fan. So he likes ebay.

His idea is that using the district or school surplus as ebay inventory, and letting the students sell that surplus on ebay, will teach them a lot of real life skills. He’s right. On top of that, you are recouping tax payer dollars.

The biggest problem, he understands, is getting this whole thing started. Schools, districts, and states, have specific rules and procedures for the disposal of assets, and working within those rules is extremely important. In some cases, this may require rules and procedure changes. That’s a mess. It also can depend on the requirements of the funds that paid for the equipment. For example, items purchased with Title I funds typically must be kept for 10 years.

In addition, you also need to find the right course to do this with, and the right teacher to champion the program. That person really needs to be on board with this plan, because it will almost definitely be time consuming.

I will say this, the idea has merit. This has students really running a business as part of their class. While ebay may not be their end goal, many of the skills are still valid in another career. Things like asset management, startup costs, computer/technology use, dealing with customers, packing/shipping, tracking gains/profit/loss. It’s interesting as a concept.

However, it is a lot of work. If you’ve spent any amount of time selling on ebay (and I have done a significant amount in my life), and it is a total pain. It is constant work: answering emails, taking pictures of items, making posts, packaging items, sending items, dealing with upset customers, giving feedback…

I also feel that the title of this session was misleading. Selling items on ebay is not a tech start-up. While I can see potential merit in this project idea, I leave this session disappointed.