Startl Design Boost and Startl Accelerator

Startl is a very interesting new project based here in NYC. It's a startup accelerator (like Y Combinator, TechStars, Seedcamp, etc) but focused entirely on entrepreneurs working in education. It's a non-profit backed by the Hewlett, MacArthur, and Gates foundations which is quite a collection if you ask me. 

Another thing that makes Startl interesting is the partnerships it has with IDEO, DreamIT Ventures, and Berkeley & Noyes (leading investment bankers in education).

Startl has two programs that anyone working on "hacking education" should be interested in:

Design Boost is a five day bootcamp here in NYC from March 15th to 19th. This first Design Boost will focus on the design of mobile apps for learning and will feature designers from IDEO who will help the selected teams with their design and development process. Up to 15 teams will be selected for Design Boost. Details on how to apply are here. The application deadline for Design Boost is February 22nd.

Accelerator is part of the DreamIT Ventures summer program in Philadelphia from May to August. Startl will select five "learning companies" to participate in the regular DreamIT Ventures program. Details on how to apply are here. The application deadline for Accelerator is March 15th.

Startl was started by two friends of mine and our firm, Diana Rhoten and Laurie Racine, and their colleague Phoenix Wang. We've known Diana and Laurie for a long time, they are committed to the concept that the innovation/startup world can have a big social impact, particularly on education. I am excited by their work on Startl and hope that some of you will apply and take advantage of these two programs.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. kidmercury

    for all the folks out there in the biz of making these type of bootcamp/startup programs, let me tell you my ideal, as an entrepreneur:1. a way i can test the waters and get to know more about the bootcamp online, through an online social network, done blog style. 2. this also helps the investors behind these programs filter what entrepreneurs you want to work with. 3. then those with a mutual match (you like them, they like you) can meet in person4. no deadline stuff, all rolling….catering as much to “a world without time” as possible5. you also connect entrepreneurs in your network in the appropriate fashion. “VCs as network weavers.” this is why i am on josh kopelman’s side in his recent beef with roger ehrenberg (@infoarbitrage) on whether or not the first round capital entrepreneur exchange is a good idea — i think it is good if VCs do a good job of network weaving and can use this to weave greater trust within their network (i.e. portfolio) — the trust required to create greater economic value. economists like jane jacobs and sociologists like richard florida have observed that value creation often comes not from creating something new but rather from re-organizing elements in a value chain — niche-focused VCs are well-positioned to exploit this phenomenon via astute weaving of their network/portfolio, IMHO, and i am particularly excited about the opportunities for such that investors behind these bootcamp programs will have, to the benefit of all.

    1. fredwilson

      Some excellent ideas in there kidI particularly like rolling admittance

    2. leeschneider

      Kid, really like your idea about rolling admittance. Sometimes an idea just isn’t ready to meet one of these deadlines, and then it’s too far advanced/not happening any more by the time the next session/year rolls around. Good call!

      1. kidmercury

        especially for us net natives…..fixed deadline is so old world, so analog

        1. karen_e

          This is a very interesting idea, Kid. I have heard it before, but honestly, I don’t quite understand it. I’m almost net native (not quite, given a 60s birthdate) yet my world is filled with deadlines. I have clients all over the world who are putting up buildings, building parks, etc., and there are all manner of fixed deadlines in order to get things accomplished in sequence. The only way I can make use of your idea is to note that for example a Web site module we’re building can be tweaked eternally – it doesn’t really need to be ‘done’. Even a print brochure can be printed in small runs and therefore constantly updated. Am I on the right track?

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Perhaps the solution isn’t rolling admissions but multiple deadlines. I am reminded of a solution I read about last night. There’s a website where everyone has to submit two ideas per year to remain a member. At first, the deadline for everyone was 12/31. The result was that the bulk of the ideas were submitted in the last two weeks of the year. The site then changed the rules so that the deadline was the anniversary of the date someone became a member. They believed that this would lead to better quality ideas and a more even flow of them.

          2. ShanaC

            That’s probably for the best. You want rolling workflows so that people are in constant contact with new ideas- and you want deadlines so that people feel some pressure to get stuff done…It just is dependent on who and what. Not every schedule is going to work for everyone.

          3. fredwilson

            there you go. nice solution.

          4. fredwilson

            whoa there. i was almost born in the 50s and i am a net native. age is a frame of mind.

          5. kidmercury

            yes, i think the extent to which you can transcend space/time limitations is dependent upon how digital your business is……if you are doing a lot of “real world” building (i.e. construction, parks, urban architecture, etc) then i think deadlines may be more of a necessity. but for things like startl, which are very digital/informational, i think moving beyond space/time becomes a lot easier. JMO of course

        2. Aviah Laor

          very few things can push productivity like a bold deadline

        3. Mark Essel

          Hah, “it’ll happen when the world’s ready for it”.I wonder if this is why I prefer blogging/comments/email over phone convs. I’m hard wired asyncronous

          1. fredwilson

            and i find it hard to be synchronous except in person

          2. kidmercury

            yes. synchronous should be face to face only. that’s why we need teleportation boss!

    3. Jason L. Baptiste

      1. they should put up some type of system similar to hacker news that’s fairly focused on hacking education type links (and other sectors they’d like to focus on).

      1. kidmercury

        yup, agree 100%…..anyone in the recruiting biz should have a news community up, or should be a part of a news community that will help them find their audience….i hope some day we will have such a public service for the citizens of fredland

      2. fredwilson

        yeah, they could use the software that powers hacker news. i think it might be open source.

        1. Jason L. Baptiste

          yeah, pg open sourced it with arc, but he’s made a lot of other improvements. id say just go with Pligg or use slinkset since those are a lot easier to deal with.

    4. Nick Giglia

      Fantastic ideas, kid. Value creation and network generation should be on everyone’s radar, and these ideas would make the whole program better.

    5. Aviah Laor

      Single criterion should be a working prototype. It show everything: ability to build something, understand about the domain, marketing, usability, determination to work for the idea. Just send us a link and a few words about the grand vision.

    6. raycote

      Thanks for the name droppings, Jane Jacobs and Richard Florida. A couple of good morphogenic-field seed crystals to suck on. Life has so many crystals so little time!

  2. steve cheney

    The macro trend toward ‘retraining’ in the economy will be an extraordinarily important trend for both education and for the American economy over the next decade.Goes like this – for capital to flow efficiently through the economy, labor needs to flow efficiently (a basic assumption of efficient market theory). But if unemployed, underemployed etc don’t have access to ‘retrain’ things get stuck – and this can’t occur absent a completely revamped approach to education.People need access to educational tools, mobile tools as you point out etc. – learning elements which will enable them to adapt. Online collaborative learning tools are already revolutionizing how students and teachers interact, but these need to go mainstream (private education appears to be leading this charge).Great to see that the NYC investor community is seeing and acting on this theme!

    1. Dave Pinsen

      “Retraining” has been the stock policy response to unemployment for decades. Historically, it has provided nice jobs for a relative handful of college-educated trainers, but as response to the structural changes in our economy, it’s completely inadequate. 20% of men between the ages of 25 and 54 are unemployed. Many of them don’t have the aptitude to learn the latest temporary techno-trade (that may become obsolete, automated, insourced, or outsourced in a few years).

      1. steve cheney

        I hear you. But don’t confuse causation with correlation. Just because’retraining’ has been around and education is broken doesn’t mean it’s noteffective. What is your answer then – to not retrain?People constantly need to learn tangential skills, they aren’t alwaysseismic. Guess what – this is happening even more quickly today. Aseducation and technology mix (historically they haven’t) people can accesstools to retrain more easily.Online collaborative learning is just one way – to use your demographicexample it’s ideal for unemployed who can’t pay a bus fare, show upsomewhere etc.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          A better approach, from an educational perspective, would be to copy the Europeans and use testing and tracking; to stop trying to steer everyone into a college-prep track in the first place. Why not take pride in our vocational education, like the Germans do in theirs?A more rational K-12 education policy would only be part of the solution though. It would need to be part of broader industrial policies designed to facilitate the creation of more high-end manufacturing jobs in the U.S. I elaborated on a couple of those industrial policies in this comment thread a few months ago. High-end manufacturing companies generally conduct their own training in house. The key is to encourage more high-end manufacturers to set up shop in the U.S.

          1. steve cheney

            Great insight. I agree wholeheartedly and here’s why I think this isunderway today (still early but being embraced more per enrollment numbers).Most vocational training is for-profit in nature. A decade ago the term”private education” often brought a negative connotation (was associatedwith bogus “degree peddling” etc) . Today private education (a lot of thisis vocational in nature) is the key because it’s where the bulk oftechnology adoption / innovation is likely to be driven first. This isespecially true given cut-backs in public education.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            Thanks, but I’m not sure how much technology innovation takes place in private vocational training. I do think it often offers a better bang for the adult student’s buck than general education courses, but they’d be even better off if they learned this stuff in high school.Also, I don’t think there was ever a negative connotation about “degree peddling” with private vocational training outfits (e.g., the old Apex Tech). I think it has been the private universities that offered college degrees that have had the negative connotation (I suppose DeVry has one foot in both of those areas though).

          3. steve cheney

            You bring up an interesting point. The “better off in high school” parttypifies how broken primary public education is – among the unemployed are amassive amount of HS drop-outs. Kids are both a) not learning it there – toyour point and b) not finishing. The cycle is vicious because of theunbelievable unemployment rate (~60% in some areas!) for minorities seekingminimum wage jobs.

          4. Tereza

            Agree. Opportunities for learning by doing.A lot of managers/business owners are not very good at crafting tasks that both need to get done (meaningful for the business) and also get the doer learning (meaningful for them — something they can, if stretched slightly out of their zone, complete successfully and have the satisfaction they learned something.)So I think there would be mileage out of training/coaching of managers/business owners in crafting work intelligently so this growth happens. Maybe incentives/info sharing. Such as rewards for hiring someone who was on unemployment, and particularly if those people demonstrate a high retention rate.It may sound esoteric but I think in a number of ways this is where the rubber hits the road.

        2. ShanaC

          Actually- that may not be true. You go to some public schools, and they use the computers they have, which are terrible, to prepare for testing. Not very helpful. Trust me.

  3. heuristocrat

    This should be huge. We’ve done some work in “Education 2.0” and it’s so massive that we were quickly overwhelmed with all the opportunities but at the same time all the incredibly hard work, innovation that will be required to shift this bag full of inertia and outdated methods.I hope we can do more work in this space later this year.

  4. Doug Covey

    I’m certainly an outsider in this subject…lurker? However, it would be interesting to see something similar to Accelerator or Design Boost in a bootcamp or summer program/camp geared toward high school students earning (accredited) credits that accelerates learning which fulfills diploma requirements graduating early…. unfortunately our traditional education system doesn’t know what to do with the student if they want to accelerate their academic track – but that’s another story.

  5. ed whymandesign

    can use http://www.businessmodelsbehttp://www.Traidmark.orgOne great way to solve problems is to ask the person asking the question(problem finder) if they know of the answer or if they can look intosolving it so they become the problem solver too:)e.g.1.How can enterprise and innovation be improved and createdinstitutionally? is one way to createinstitutional innovation.2.How can anyone set up their own self sustaining innovation space? and both haveexamples of how this can be done.How else can everyone be A. Empowered to create innovative solutions sosocial problems and B. Self sustain themselves by earning enough to liveand learn?Can build a Trust library with you too?

    1. Dave Pinsen

      I wish you summarized all that into a concise blog post and linked to it. From a quick scan of the first link, I get the sense you have some good ideas buried here and there. I’d love to see a jargon-free, straight-forward summary of them.

  6. Kevin Prentiss

    Adding to kidmercury’s weaving – I would very much appreciate a simple directory of other education startups. Even just a public google spreadsheet, similar to the cofounder sheet that was making the rounds.If they want to be a node, building a community around their core mission is a good idea.There are not many startups in this space (part of what they are trying to solve) and I would love to know who they are.Right now, the only call to action on their site is “apply for bootcamp” – which I’m too far along for. Designing for community means facilitating participation at many levels (lurkers, networkers, participants, teachers, etc.) In short – how can they make it easy for non-boot camp participants to connect to each other through their project / site?(As I said at the time – the biggest benefit I got from your #hackedu gathering was being able to connect with interested parties on twitter. The participant convo and content was fine – but the network connections surfaced by the #tag among the much larger group of people not in the room had far greater lasting value.)I would love to see this project succeed and would be happy to help in any way I can. Anyone involved in startl – feel free to email, kevin -at- – I’m in NY.

  7. Stefan Richter

    Excellent initiative. This may be a long shot but how about hosting one of your events in Europe? It would also be great if it could cater for startups which have proceeded beyond the idea/protoype stage.

  8. Doug Chu

    As an entrepreneur and former educator, I can tell you there is no lack of innovation in education. 20 years ago I worked with Seymour Papert teaching computer programming to “at-risk kids” in D.C.’s first charter school (still going strong BTW). A few years later at Stanford, I taught an interactive writing course over the web with a dozen students in two hemispheres (back then we were running Pine 1.6 for email.) Innovation is not the problem; disruptive “business” models are. We need a Phoenix Online for the K-12. We need a Club Penguin for Math and we need to see great starts like become pervasive. How to do this without vouchers which deeply disadvantage the middle-class and immigrants is also a challenge. I’m encouraged by the folks at Startl, Design Boost and Accelerator. Thanks for calling this to our attention.

  9. Barrett

    This is an exciting idea. We are launching a new version of Harvard ManageMentor that we think will be an advance in Corporate Learning world. Micro-site with info here: would be interesting to know how we could support Startl possibly

  10. Ovi_Jacob

    This looks like a fantastic opportunity for education startups, great post – thanks fred.some thoughts on education startups, based on my experiences working in the industry for 3 years (private schools, adult-ed)The intenet generation has proved that user driven opt-in communities create the best experiences and yield the highest potential to create value (educational and economic)I would like to see some ‘edupeneurs’ create learning communties that are outside the online classroom mold. Social connectivity, mobile inteface, education-gaming all contribute to the next step. To really get there, we need to create experiences driven by users. The teacher-class-student model is great for structure, but just doesn’t maximizethe capability we have today.I am excited to see the wave of companies that emanate from startl

  11. Dave Pinsen

    Fred, have you ever considered endowing something at Antelope Valley College (i.e., Maybe linking up one of these educational entrepreneurs with them? A Fred Wilson presence at seems fitting, given your interest in education and that school’s domain name.

    1. fredwilson

      do you know anything about antelope valley college? the only thing i know about them is their domain

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Nothing except what I’ve learned from a few minutes of poking around their website. Looks like they’re in an exurb of Los Angeles, and according to the AVC Community tab, their sports teams are called the Marauders. I just discovered by accident once on the way to your blog.

  12. Chuck Cohn

    I’m glad to see education is getting a lot of attention these days – it’s going to be amazing to see how technology improves education over the next generation. I suspect the changes will be tremendous. Fred, given your interest in education, I hope to see USV make an investment in the space in the next few year! Looks like my company Varsity Tutors,, wouldn’t qualify for this incubator since it’s not a technology, but man is this program neat. Good luck to the applicants!

    1. fredwilson

      we would like to. we are looking for it but have not found it.

      1. Aviah Laor

        Traditionally “education” and “computes” was more or less some cool games/rewards for kids + progress tracking for the instructors.Maybe the key is tools that unlock teachers? (not the admin tasks, there are plenty of those already)

  13. Aviah Laor

    Great to see this model propagates. Speaking about education, it’s a great educational model for all ages. Commit, group work, build something, get mentoring but while you are actually doing something. Light years better than boring one-way lectures.

  14. BarrySchuler

    As a fellow VC but also an education warrior who has slugged it out for the last 15 years I can tell you with conviction our public eduction is not suffering because of lack of innovation. There are many great programs out there that use leading edge technology. The problem has been getten adoption and scaling them. It has taken much $$ blood sweat and tears. New Tech Network for example took a decade to scale to 40 high schools nationwide. This year we have 25 new starts. On a roll, but here’s the deal – it is a not-for-profit. I am not so optimistic about for-profit models as a change agent in education, we have formidable systemic issues. however I do think we (the tech industry) should adopt education as our social responsibility. I’d also say that any incubator or boot camp that wants to focus on this space should put an emphasis on supporting Teach for America alumni who choose work on innovative solutions. It is impossible to comprehend the depth of the issues we face without seeing them up close and personal. All of that said – I laud and encourage every attempt to help the cause. Education is not one thing in the US and there is no single solution.

    1. fredwilson

      i love the idea of getting teachers involved.

  15. A J Cohen

    Fred – While I fully embrace your above post & am ecstatic that there is an accelerator/focused start-up model/funding behind primarily education, after reviewing their site I find one inherent flaw. It is the same societal-application flaw that creeps into almost every(thing) program the federal gvmnt gets behind – the renewable energy market product usage & expansion requires – the HCare movement would like to do on fighting specific ills/diseases/conditions & in many cases what technology markets try to hurdle every week. ADOPTIBILITYe..g..: TwitterPost – @NewMediaGenius: Google Buzz: Do I really have to learn another social media app?Please don’t get my intention wrong. All of Startl’s work is desperately needed within the realm of education. Schools today are DESPERATE for MM learning platforms and technology driven tools. Yet after my virtual reality / ECLearning game client and I worked through the myriad levels of McArthur Fndtn Grants / ECEd Grants / the narrow criteria they look for / the type of products/functionalities they look to fund / who their ACTUAL judges are for submissions / umpteen conversations w/National Edctn leaders-Writers-Professors-teachers, etc….we knew our only hope was to bring this type of game into the commercial markets if we were to ever get attention-angel & VC funding-the potential to just build it!! We put the edctnl market component on the back burner.Posit: The Gvnmt pushing RenEnrgy / Solar products – the large outlay of cash the consumer/commercial end-user needs to adopt this technlgy ($30k for a home solar unit) & the only ‘real incentive’ cost assistance = a credit reduction on ones’ income tax…9-14 months after the money is spent Vs a 7-10 year usage payback. Who’s biting……?Reality: Not a nation of citizens who watched WS / Banks / GM get ‘bailed out in billions’, GOP Senators holding up ALL nominations over ‘earmarked $$’ for their state, lobbyists ‘spending & spinning’ the real outcome of any legislative bill put forward, every citizens 401k & IRA ‘savings losing 25-45% & NOT coming back’, all of those same citizens senior/retired/AsstdLvng bound parents retirement funds ‘losing’ the same value, a Congress completely unable to INCENT banks to make small bsns loans and to STOP CC cmpys from tripling interest rates to “reduce their own portfolio risk,” etc…..and these same citizens realizing they will receive short shrift!Posit: VERY tech savvy/media/visual/tactile oriented kids aged 3-6 coming into the 12 yr parochial edctn system, coupled with their tech savvy siblings aged 6-20 engaged in that same system. The current Edctn system is clearly NOT READY, nor can teachers stand in front of any age class and lecture/point to a Blk/Wht board for more than 20 minutes….before the kids are lost.Reality: The # of “alleged” ADHD kids nationwide has/will continue to go through the roof. Not their fault either!!Example: The below 2 articles & extracted data are clear evidence of what any new edctn products coming out of Startl’s efforts will run smack into, all across this nation. Every State is severely cutting their budgets & higher ed schools/state colleges are hit very, very hard. Any edctn oriented products will need to be accepted in the commercial / home realm 1st, before a way is found to back end them into the parochial school curriculum – no matter HOW MANY educators are clamoring for more tech tools to teach with.It is NOT the fact that in the CO example, $397 p/student will be lost funding for ‘any program’ – it is the gutting of teachers / TA’s / Programs / Hours / Activities / Art / Band / Uniforms / Equipmnt / Off Campus Trips / Late Buses / Higher Fee’s To Students-Their Parents for activity participation just to GET TO the threshold of those cuts….and the constant prevalence of fear that the remaining admin staff / teachers feel knowing that more cuts are coming next year(s) too.Denver Post / 021110 / Post / 012110 /“It’s a very significant worry because CO ranks near last nationally in terms of our income devoted to K-12,””We’re scrambling,” said LPS Superintendent Scott Murphy. “I’ve never seen it this bad.”School districts statewide expect to make big budget cuts for the 2010-11 school year. Here’s how much the 10 largest districts expect to trim: 1. Jefferson County, 86,250 students, at least $20 million. 2. Denver Public Schools, 77,255 students, at least $30 million. 3. Douglas County, 59,932 students, at least $31 million. 4. Cherry Creek Schools, 51,708 students, at least $13 million. 5. Adams 12 Five Star Schools, 41,949 students, at least $24 million. 6. Aurora Public Schools, 36,967 students, at least $18 million. 7. Colorado Springs D-11, 29,641 students, at least $11 million. 8. Boulder Valley School District, 29,011 students, at least $12 million. 9. St. Vrain Valley School District, 26,724 students, at least $11 million. 10. Poudre School District, 26,520 students, at least $12 million.11. Littleton Public Schools, 15,500 students, at least $9 millionTOTAL Students – 481,187 / TOTAL Cuts – $191m = $397 p/studentErgo, it is NOT that they don’t want to adopt a more conducive, tech accessible platform for learning….it’s just that EVEN if a NPO or foundation paid for every bit of it, the entire school districts learning platform / system has to be re-tooled to accommodate the technology, teachers trained and edctn modality outcomes Vs previous traditional, predicted. 95% of all schools infrastructure ( plumbing, electrical, HVAC…) is a severely challenged, missing priority, that would receive first choice/scrutiny should $$ become available.And EVEN with “a gift of technology,” the district admin are still mentally / emotionally / personally juggling & living the current & future budget cuts that hang over their heads. Many in that admin position may NOT be there to see this to fruition. Our State employees PERA retirement fund is in shambles/the risk of failure….so early retirement is NO enviable option.Startl….please find multiple paths / connections to adoptability! Imbue that dialogue & component into your outreach / funding model. Commercial Mkts success dovetailed into – Fed Tax Incentive Prgrm Support for Ntl school districts to expand tech change….State Tax Incentive Prgms for in-state schools to adopt technology….County property tax incentives for citizens if their schools adopt any state or federal prgrm incentives Vs always raising this tax to pay for school shortfalls.As kidmercury stated…”value creation often comes not from creating something new but rather from re-organizing elements in a value chain”….innovation can work if we are willing to re-value, incentivize, reward and re-calculate the elements within the downstream chain of recipients / stake holders. STOP!! …the top down, broad DC legislation and throw-$$-at-it funding.Hoping that this concept comes up at the TED conference this week.

    1. Aviah Laor

      There is no better way for a nation to shoot itself in the legs than by cutting education budgets. Yet these are the easiest budgets to cut, giving more advantage to private education.But what did Startl do wrong?

      1. ShanaC

        I have to ask- has there been any serious work in Israel over these issues considering how much furor there was over the Dovrat Report. I figure someone would move into doing something because of the space that report created. People were so angry when the news of that of that report got to the press…

        1. Aviah Laor

          sent you a mail to the gmail reg this

          1. ShanaC

            i see it, trying to think what to say.

  16. Suzanne Walsh

    Startl Design Boost and Startl Accelerator

  17. Barrett

    Is this just for school based education or is Corporate Learning a candidate as well?

  18. Mark Essel

    Learning is a such a broad topic, we’re all doing it every day while experimenting with new languages, APIs, tools, mashups, etc. I’m curious what defines “entrepreneurs working in education”.Open source text ebooks?Social web driven net teachers giving impromptu courses with Q&A video exchanges?Information tools?Big fan of more seed efforts, and the transparent focus/direction (education) is a nice touch. What makes a vibrant community for me is a the sustained participation of people I know (and trust) who have been working in an area for some time (startup founders, early employees, VCs).*edit*After doing some more reading it appears we’re really interested in “disrupting” the current education system and driving those in the system towards a higher quality experience of learning with a lower price tag.Radical new education systems must be implemented in small test areas (at the edges is best). Let parents and students opt in to try these types of systems. The more each student is exposed to older kids in a positive learning environment the more likely they are to develop their own personal self education habits. It could even start as a temporary replacement for one course or subject. I love the idea of teachers getting help from older students part time, as well as a much larger volunteer pool of professionals that come in once a week or so to relate their real life work to what is being learned (not taught).

    1. Wavelengths

      You might be interested in the following link. Especially the sections on governance and social engagement.…It is my understanding that the predominant educational system in the US is based on an authoritarian model that was developed in the early part of the 20th century with the intention of training people to be good soldiers and factory workers. Now that we have social and economic imperatives requiring much of the population to be able to think creatively and to think for themselves, the flaws in this educational approach are more apparent.I agree that this is a system that is ripe for positive disruption — for the betterment of us all.

      1. ShanaC

        It’s also an extremely difficult one to disrupt because of the amount of people involved and the amount of regulation involved. It’s part of disrupting a governmental organization….very difficult indeed, lots of entrenched interests (and a lot of good ideas in those interests that are often talking at cross purposes to each other.)

        1. Wavelengths

          In other words, those who are invested in the current authoritarian model (Do what I tell you!) are likely to oppose any system that suggests that individuals should be taught to study, gather information, and make up their own minds. Hmmmm.So, how’s that working out for the factory workers these days?

          1. ShanaC

            A) I didn’t do well in this system both on the teaching side or on thestudying side in certain ways.B) There is a lot of turnoverC) One of the reasons the system is set up the way it is, is not justbecause of authoritarianism, is that should be free from politicalcorruption ala Tammany Hall. Teachers used to be political appointees…A lot of people become teachers thinking they can change the world, andbecome disegaged because of top down policies. it is very difficult tochange your classroom when you have directives from a district or a citythat is very not in tune with your classroom- and which may have politicsthrown in. It is also very difficult to change anything involving teachingwhen the system to channel students to the right resources are determined byseemingly random and difficult processes that have very little relevance togetting teaching done.It’s why I really oppose computer based testing in classes to prepare forNCLB. Companies are probably making a killing with programs that make testsbut don’t teach computer skills. What a brilliant idea…Google Talk: [email protected] AIM: faerowan Google Wave: shanacarp [image: Twitter] <http:”” shanacarp=””>— @ WiseStampSignature<http:”” link?u=”qww6y7th6wry5qkd&amp;…”>.Get it now<http:”” link?u=”qww6y7th6wry5qkd&amp;…”>

      2. Mark Essel

        Wow, that was a pretty nonstandard approach that jives with my internal image of an ideal learning environment. Of course I’m limited by own preferences and bias, but I’d be willing to consider something besides kids following a K-12 predefined curriculum, then desperately playing catchup in college only to find themselves unemployed and 100k in debt. That’s not a sustainable model.

        1. Wavelengths

          The current system of education — relatively formulaic — is designed to benefit the administrators more than the students. As to how well kids are educated? According to some, at best the system only reaches about 60% of the students. The top 20% would educate themselves, regardless of the system. The other 20% find the teaching model pretty incomprehensible. So, 2 out of 10 kids in an average classroom aren’t learning anything through the standard lecture approach to education.I would LOVE to see this change.

          1. Kris Setzekorn

            Many say our economy’s, companies’ and individuals’ futures deped on creativity and innovation. I wonder if the most creative students are ill-served in an authoritarian, regimented, one-size-fits-all education system.

          2. Wavelengths

            The current system may actively DIScourage creativity, because creativity is disruptive to the orderly academic machine.Is anyone noticing how top-level policy setters are still resorting to standard formulas to solve present unprecedented economic and social problems?Where’s the creativity? Was it lost back in elementary school when “the best and the brightest” learned how to please the teacher instead of learning how to think for themselves?

      3. Tereza

        We have cousins who did Waldorf. It’s great in its own right. They did have some difficulty when they moved to a new community which didn’t have Waldorf, and so the kids were “behind” in some things (and of course way ahead in others). It was particularly jarring for them because it is so totally different from public school…and took a couple tough years to adjust to Public. So I think with something like Waldorf, it’s important that the child has access to it throughout their learning arc — can’t dip in and out of it. But I know people who are into Waldorf are deeply passionate about it, and often seek communities where they can continue it.I’ve been a big fan of Montessori for early childhood (age 3-7), particularly for the very solid grounding in critical math concepts. I have a bee in my bonnet about training girls to be highly numerate and confident in math. That’s an area where our system fails badly and ultimately, a deeply underexploited resource. But it’s not just our system, it’s our culture.Also it’s really a shame schools are so slow to adopt International Baccalaureate curricula (grades ~4-12), as they consistently perform a quantum leap above conventional curricula.There is a school of thought that says that the most delicate years which merit extra investment are early childhood, and then later, in middle school, because in those periods children are undergoing rapid change and really need more attention (read: higher teacher/student ratios).

  19. anthonyvmanzophd

    Thank you for the step forward, but I’m 70 years old and feel it. However, I have 3 ground breaking ideas, one with a patent, to aid Education big time. Can you put me in touch with teams that have more skill than substantive ideas? BTW, I have been recipient of an international award for creative R&D (1993) from a 90,000 member organization.Projects in a word: 1) in-game ad system that feeds $ to designated schools; 2) an online Tutorial system (see: iREAP) that would use retired professionals as tutors (at a reasonable fee) in writing; currently teachers (8-12 grade) have 150 students and cannot read and react to papers; 3) an avatar system that incidentally builds vocabulary and knowledge; and 4) a system for identifying Best Practices that would be world class and with full access for a small fee, but for about 4 Million teachers (see: url). Anthony V. Manzo, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

    1. Mark Essel

      Very interesting ideas Anthony. Sounds like you need a connection to some folks with the energy and passion to see those ideas developed/brought to light. If Startl is the type of organization that can make this happen, it’d be pretty amazing.

    2. Tereza

      Anthony great stuff.I was involved in founding an organization in N Westchester called InterGenerate, which seeks to solve local problems through what we call an “intergenerational lens”. We believe we are at the forefront of a massive challenge and opportunity in this country as relates to the aging Boomer generation, but also that in the Manufacturing age society has broken down into age silos which are not helpful (e.g. It is not very easy to interact with people not in your age cohort). And that by transcending them there are ings we can fix.To your #2, are you aware of a program in Westchester which pairs select mature adults with at-risk children. It was started by the JCC of Yonkers and I was involved in a group to bring it to N Westchester. Called SMART (students and mature adults read together).It has yielded strong results. A wonderful additional benefit is that in addition to the children, who really yearn for positive relationships with adults, it has been tremendously rewarding for the mature adults selected to participate. They are a growing resource in this country and it behooves us to harness that.

    3. ShanaC

      You are right about the papers. Oh boy…

  20. anthonyvmanzophd

    Oops, I forgot to mention a very important project in a prior. I could use collaborators in building proprietary Imbedded Aids to readers that could be seamlessly employed in any electronic text and especially useful in online [email protected]

  21. sigmaalgebra

    For the education part, that should be pushed hard somehow. Hewlett, MacArthur, and Gates sound excellent. Sloan, Carnegie, and Rockefeller won’t chip in?For the DoE, don’t let them know! For the NSF, maybe entertain some of their money. Cute thought: DARPA, one of the sharper tacks in the box, might like the opportunity to chip in!My view is that K-12 is mostly babysitting with a lot of destructive content not too exaggerated in the movie ‘Mean Girls’; for college we know what BS is, and MS is more of the same, and Ph.D., piled higher and deeper.I spent FAR too long slogging through that stuff. The best of it is some of the very best of civilization, no doubt very much worth the cost, but the amount of waste is sickening, and the ‘opportunity cost’ of the waste is beyond sickening.The long term gains for our society of (1) cutting out all the destructive parts, (2) cutting out all the waste, and (3) letting the students actually get on with effective learning of the highest quality material would be beyond belief.One small piece of evidence of the potential: Nearly all the crucial learning in US information technology is accomplished by nearly totally unguided, ungraded, untaught, self-motivated, self-directed, individual, independent self-study. While some English class is still mumbling about Chaucer, some student in the back of the class has on sound canceling earphones and is using his laptop to learn ASP.NET, extensible hashing, communicating sequential processes, LaTeX, Hilbert space, quantum mechanics, or progress to ‘the singularity’.I wrote my undergrad math honors paper in group representation theory for quantum mechanics in chemistry, published a math paper I wrote, independently, as part of my Masters, and wrote my Ph.D., from research I did independently in my first summer, in the applied math of stochastic optimal control, but my 8th grade math teacher told me never to take anymore math. Destructive ditsy bimbo. All she was doing was baby sitting and causing trouble. When my school saw my 752 math SAT score, they said “There must be some mistake”; there had been, for 12, long, painful, wasteful years, theirs.Steps: (A) Get the themes identified and explained. (B) For the themes, get the highest quality materials possible. Yes, intend competition; for each topic to be covered, more than one major source. If some author doesn’t like what a team is doing, then they should be encouraged to form another team and do something entirely different. (C) Organize so that the students can do the learning effectively. (D) Have a good enough system of ‘certification’.Nowhere here did I say ANYTHING about courses, credits, grades, school rooms, 55 minute classes, teachers, homework, midterms, final exams, semesters, grade levels, etc.Deliberately keep out of the effort everyone and everything in US education from K-college and all schools of education. The work should be done only by professors from the top 24 or so US research universities.Third rate talents with fourth rate knowledge can’t do well educating first rate students.The worst of my horror stories about K-Ph.D. could bring rivers of tears, with deafening screams of agony, from blocks of granite. Here suffice it to say that the potential upside of something much better is well beyond all belief.

  22. Donna Brewington White

    Very cool. Will share this.

  23. diana

    We loved these comments. As we launch Startl this kind of feedback is incredibly helpful so thanks to all for the thoughts.Kid’s point about creating a network that allows entrepreneurs and investors to noodle with each other about potentially interesting projects and ideas as they are evolving is a really good one. We are working on launching some social tools and attempting to put that kind of network of networks in place. Our bet is that these self organizing and growing (hopefully_ circles of informal communication will be big part of making the learning space the “new green”.Maybe it’s also through Meetups that these kinds of learning focused ‘shitachs’ (Yiddish for matches) will also occur. We are already working on a DigitalLearning Meetup in NYC and exploring several others ways (online and offline) of connecting folks interested in ‘shocking the system’ a bit.Oh, and … deadlines, deadlines, deadlines … we know our application deadlines are coming up fast. We’ve extended the design boost deadline another week (Feb 22) due to interest. And, as Startl gets up and running and it establishes it programmatic rhythms, deadlines will be longer and for all intents of purposes rolling as many of you have encouraged.We’re definitely listening and learning. So, please, any and all suggestions will be most welcome … keep ’em coming.Thanks, Fred, for helping us get our voice out there. … A startl was born!