The Livescribe Pulse Smartpen and the Waterford Assessment of Core Skills (WACS) have been named the top products in the Software and Information Industry Association’s (SIIA’s) Innovation Incubator program, which connects developers of promising new education technologies with industry leaders and established organizations.
The Pulse Smartpen took top spot as the most innovative education product or service, and WACS won as the most likely to succeed in the education market.
The two winning technologies received the honors during SIIA’s annual Ed Tech Business Forum in New York. They were two of 10 participants in the organization’s Innovation Incubator program, which recognizes innovative start-up companies, nonprofit groups, research and development agencies, and academic institutions.
The 29 applicants were assessed based on key selection criteria, including alignment to SIIA’s Vision K‐20 Benchmarks: 21st century tools, anytime/anywhere access, differentiated learning, assessment tools, and enterprise support.
“We are truly impressed by this year’s line-up in Innovation Incubator participants, and by those organizations that received Innovation Incubator Awards,” said Karen Billings, vice president for SIIA’s Education Division. “The more than 270 industry executives who attended the Ed Tech Business Forum in person and online this year believe these organizations will help lead innovation in developing the technology-rich learning opportunities educators need.”
Livescribe’s Pulse Smartpen not only records handwriting using a special dotted paper and a tiny camera attached to the pen, but records audio as well, developers say. (See “Digital pens: Mightier than MSWord?“)
“The competition was tough, and there were many exciting new technologies presented,” said Holly De Leon, Livescribe’s vice president of K-12 sales. “[The Pulse Smartpen] is a low-cost way to put technology into the hands of every student and teacher in all subject areas. It will allow [students] to learn in their own unique way—we are just providing them with the tool to allow that learning to happen in a more efficient manner.”
De Leon said she has heard many comments from teachers about the practical use the Pulse Smartpen would have in their classrooms.
“[Many of the] comments revolved around teacher use and the ability of teachers to create lessons that can then be shared electronically with parents, students in alternative schools, or hospital [or] homebound students,” she said. “So much of teaching is the verbal instruction, but until now, we have not had a very effective way of capturing that teacher’s instruction—now we do.”
WACS, winner in the second Innovation Incubator category, is a series of online adaptive assessments for K-2 students to take in the classroom or at home. The assessment package was developed by the Waterford Institute, a nonprofit research center that creates educational models, programs, and software.
WACS is currently available for reading assessment and will expand to math and science assessment in the future. After students complete the WACS assessment, teachers and parents have immediate access to detailed reports and suggestions so they can help students continue to grow and achieve.
“WACS addresses prevalent needs educators face in the business of education, primarily in assessing young learners’ literacy skills in a valid, effective, reliable way, providing immediate feedback,” said WACS Research and Evaluation Director Haya Shamir. “We have done this keeping the student central to the solution, making it fun and engaging for them.”
Other organizations honored include:
• Big Universe Inc., for BigUniverse.com, a literacy web site for grades K-8.
• Skill-Life Inc., for Cents City, an online platform that uses games to build tweens’ financial literacy.
• Engaged Minds Inc., for Engaged Minds, a collaboration platform with analytics tools and dashboards to help schools identify at-risk students and manage interventions.
• Flat World Knowledge, for its higher-education open digital textbooks.
• National Geographic Society, for The JASON Project, multimedia-based curriculum that connects students with real field scientists.
• KidsWrite, for KidsWrite, an online book-authoring community for students.
• Coaxis Services Inc., for PrazAs Live, a touch-based eLearning platform.
• Arizona State University, for SMALLLAB (Situated Multimedia Arts Learning Lab), a virtual learning environment where K-12 students interact kinesthetically with audio-visual media.
“The importance of this award cannot be understated. The people voting are generally people [who] have been in the industry for years and have seen many products come and go,” Livescribe’s De Leon said.