Twelve new ed-tech companies to watch

"The Social Express," from Language Express, is an animated program that uses video modeling to help students with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, or ADHD learn the first steps to social interaction.

Game-based learning and mobile apps are beginning to catch on in schools—and these also were key characteristics that defined several of the dozen emerging ed-tech companies recognized for their potential by the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) last month.

During SIIA’s Innovation Incubator program, held in connection with the organization’s Ed-Tech Industry Summit in San Francisco May 6-8, two new educational technology companies in particular—Language Express and Filament Games—were voted by the 350 conference attendees as being the “Most Likely to Succeed” (first place and runner-up, respectively). Filament Games and Language Express also were voted as the “Most Innovative,” in that order.

Language Express plans to build interactive, multimedia products to teach social and life skills to three- to 21-year-olds. Its first product, The Social Express, is a high-quality animated interactive program featuring original characters. It uses a unique video modeling concept to help students with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, or ADHD learn the basic first steps to social interaction.

Filament Games has developed a suite of digital games (Crazy Plant Shop, You Make Me Sick, and Cell Command) designed to promote scientific literacy and increase students’ interest in pursuing careers in the sciences. The games are intended to be used in inclusive science classrooms with a diverse range of students using the Universal Design for Learning framework.

The Innovation Incubator program supports innovation in the educational technology industry by raising the profile of promising new technologies for schools, while connecting these innovators with industry leaders for mentorship, expert advice, investment opportunities, and partnerships to support growth.

Overall, 73 applicants were assessed for the Innovation Incubator program on a broad range of criteria, including their education focus, end-user impact, market need for their product or service, and level of innovation. Ten finalists and two alternates were chosen for the program, and their participation was subsidized by program co-sponsors Blackboard Partnerships and Texthelp Systems.

Here are the other eight finalists:

3D GameLab, developed by Boise State University, is a Software as a Service (SaaS)-based personal learning platform. It uses game mechanics (such as experience points, badges, awards, and rankings) and a quest-based learning approach involving user choice to promote ongoing engagement and improved learning outcomes for students of all ages.

GuideK12 is a powerful, web-based “geovisual analytics” tool that helps school districts solve critical challenges. It links student data to household information (where students live) via “geocoding” in order to improve forecasting, capacity planning, and optimizing district resources. Administrators can filter the data by many factors and can run queries or scenarios to help them with decision making, such as exploring how many students live within walking distance of certain resources. Providing insight traditionally reserved for demographers, GuideK12 aims to simplify complex, three-dimensional information by visually displaying the results with a few clicks.

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