ISTE2016 Summary – Ed Tech Start Up Pitch Fest

My second session of the day is the Ed Tech Start-Up Pitch Fest. In this session, 6 startup companies will present on their new education technology products. There is a panel of judges, and at the end, the audience votes on their favorites. It is a structured pitch setting, with 5 minute presentation and 2 minute Q&A with the judges.

First presenter is PrepMagic. This is an interactive site for developing engaging content that creates visually appealing activities showing the physics of someone bungee jumping, sky diving, or skiing, or graphs showing predator/prey population changes. Looks pretty cool. Rushikesh Bandekar, founder and CEO, was the presenter, and he was pretty engaging. However, I had a hard time focusing on what he was saying because he’s wearing a black suit, black shoes, and white socks. WHITE SOCKS!! I can’t be the only one here that is distracted by that.

Heath Mitchell, creator of AR Flashcards was up next. He wore the right color socks, so he’s off to a good start, but he seems super nervous. The product itself is a phone app that uses augmented reality in combination with actual flash cards, to try to make flashcard memorization more engaging. They have 4 different platforms, covering alphabet, space, shapes, and addition. It’s a good idea, but honestly, it is Aurasma but you can’t make your own content like you can with Aurasma. I guess the one plus is your students wouldn’t need to join your channel, it would just work, but Aurasma is also free…So, I’m not exactly blown away on this one.

Next presenter is Capit Learning, a language learning suite that ties letters to pneumonics. For example, the letter S is tied to saxophone, stylized in such a way that it looks like an S. This looks like a quality product, but I hardly can call myself an expert on teaching language to PreK/Kindergarten.

Cogent Education, founded by 6 University of Georgia professors. As an Atlanta native, I already like them. They found that undergrad students could take a multiple choice test, but couldn’t think like scientists. So they have developed an online system for learning to think like a scientist. They use case studies to develop natural learning experiences based on real world problems. For example, they present you with the story of Clare, a great Dane who isn’t eating. You have to research enzymes (in a confined framework) to ultimately work through some experiments, and eventually present a treatment option to save Clare. This is the first one that I’m $5/student/year. That’s really not expensive for what their software does. Check them out at @CogentEd.

The next presenter is Airtame. Dude opened by telling us to put our devices away and pay attention to him. Not the most professional way to start in my opinion. Regardless, it looks like it might be an interesting product. “Airtame is a wireless presentation device that allows you to instantly display content from any laptop or mobile device without wires.” Up front, it looks exactly like a Chromecast, which allows exactly the same thing. It even physically looks a lot like a Chromecast. It has an application that goes with it for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. The only differentiator is that it appears the app is more tailored to presenting. He states that Chromecast has IT related issues, and that it isn’t full mirroring. Their product is $299, so it isn’t completely astronomical, but it certainly isn’t cheap like a Chromecast.

VITAL (Vibratory Touchscreen Applications for Learning), which I’m pretty sure is the SHIELD of EdTech, because that acronym is ridiculous. However, their product looks kinda neat. Their product creates engaging touchscreen centric content so that students can interact though a touchscreen and feel vibrations (she mentioned this a few times like it was really cool). There is also collaborative content. I’m honestly not clear on what makes this unique. It seems that it just is content display, and shared display across devices. Not exactly unique.

So now we get to vote for our favorite company. I voted Cogent. And so did 51% of the audience here. They advance to the next round. Airtame and VITAL tied for 2nd, and in the tie-breaker revote, Airtame won.

Not sure how much I got out of this session, so may not join the other sessions.