Interactive digital textbooks and a formative assessment system that enables students to take exams on their laptops, tablets, or smart phones were among the many ed-tech products on display at an educational technology forum in Minnesota Oct. 5.
Minnesota has the potential to become a center for educational technology, organizers at the EduTech Showcase and Forum said.
The event, aimed at bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, and educators, drew more than 100 people, ranging from teachers, students, entrepreneurs, and investors. Minnesota has more than 30 ed-tech companies that provide products to schools and the general public.
Organizers of the event estimated that the K-12 ed-tech market is a $25 billion to $30 billion industry in the U.S.
“There aren’t a lot of sectors in the economy that are growing right now. Educational technology is,” said Chad Johnson, managing director of investment firm Cherry Tree Companies.
Entrepreneurs attending the event pitched their business ideas, which ranged from 3-D digital books to more effective ways of teaching students how to use online videos. Entrepreneurial support group TiE (Technology in Education) Minnesota organized the event.
Entrepreneur Adisack Nhouyvanisvong presented his business, Naiku, a web-based platform that students use to take tests. Naiku allows students to explain their difficulties with specific test questions. Using Naiku, a teacher can assess how many students in their class got a test question wrong and why. So far, 35,000 students and teachers have used the product, which lets students take exams on their own personal web-enabled digital device.
“We are turning testing moments into learning moments,” said Nhouyvanisvong, Naiku’s president.
Meanwhile, FlyingWord CEO Joe Weber said his business is making 3-D digital books that allow readers to listen to the words, read the text, and interact with the artwork. Many kids these days don’t identify with physical books and don’t understand the concept of a phonebook, Weber said.
The presentations impressed several of the educators.