Apr 10

LearnSprout Services Updated to Address CVE-2014-0160 (“Heartbleed” bug)

You may have read or heard through the media about “Heartbleed”, a flaw in a software library called OpenSSL that potentially compromises secure internet connections.

For technical details, you can learn more from these external resources:

- https://web.nvd.nist.gov/view/vuln/detail?vulnId=CVE-2014-0160

- http://heartbleed.com/

At LearnSprout, as soon as we learned of the issue, our engineering team assessed this vulnerability and applied the relevant software patches to all services.

We have no indication that LearnSprout’s services were targeted or have been compromised due to this bug, but we will continue to closely monitor the situation, take all precautionary actions and vigilantly protect your data.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to send us a note to support@learnsprout.com

- The LearnSprout Engineering Team


Mar 17

8 Things Schools Can Do to Boost Attendance

Last week I was driving back to my home in Sacramento when I got a call from my wife. My 7-year old boy came home from school not feeling well. “I think he’s got the flu.” she said. “How can you tell?” I asked. “He’s got a fever.” she replied. I bit my tongue. She was calling from the car phone and she doesn’t keep a thermometer in her purse, but I know all too well from experience that despite the fact that this diagnosis came from her highly scientific back-of-the-hand field test, she was right more often than not. Sure enough, by the time I got home his fever had hit 103°. In total, he would miss three days of school, a school dance performance he had been practicing with his classmates all year for, a piano lesson and a Cub Scout meeting. We would all lose a lot of sleep…

Those of us who have been in K-12 education long enough can tell you that illness is one of the leading causes of absenteeism in our schools, but how does it compare to other causes? In working with customers over the past couple months, we’ve had the rare opportunity to view longitudinal attendance data spanning multiple years. Typically this is about four or five years of data and depending on the granularity of their attendance codification system, we can see highly seasonal trends with students missing school due to illness. So far, it appears that trends in schools are highly predictable and generally match the analysis provided by Google Flu Trends and the CDC, but here’s what’s interesting: Almost without exception, illness appears to make up not just the majority, but the vast majority of absences.

Here’s an example from one customer we worked with. In this chart we see seasonal trends with illness for the past three-and-a-half years for 38 schools combined. This is similar most data with trends spiking typically in late January and early February:

We ran the report a second time for the same three-and-a-half-years, but included all attendance codes that meant the student was absent from school for any reason. In this chart, we unpack nearly half-a-million attendance events and break them down by attendance code. Medically verified and parent verified illness combined to make up 55% of the overall absences. Coming in second at 20% were unexcused absences followed by unverified absences coming in at 5%.

Of course, I recognize that like my wife’s back-of-the-hand technique, our observation is not entirely scientific. With nearly 2,000 schools now using LearnSprout, we have a substantial pool of data to draw from, but many schools do not use specific absent codes for illness so it’s not yet possible to get a aggregate picture of what’s going on nationally with any degree of statistical validity. That being said, our observations seem to have support from the research community. One study from Texas by the E3 Alliance and Children’s Optimal Health found that nearly half of absences were due to acute illness. A similar study in Seattle conducted during flu season showed that for every 100 children there were 63 missed school days. In October 2009, the flu nearly doubled the absentee rate in the D.C. area leaving some campuses with as many as one-fifth of students out sick.

That’s a lot of school to miss. Thanks to recent efforts from groups like Attendance Works, Boost Attendance, America’s Promise and Everyone Graduates, we know that missing school for any reason can lead to chronic absenteeism and significantly hinder a student’s prospects for academic attainment. These organizations have done amazing work raising awareness around the issue of chronic absenteeism which goes beyond the myopic focus on truancy and daily attendance counts which often mask issues with chronic absenteeism.

But what can be done about illness? Perhaps flu season is an unavoidable reality for K-12 schools and we just have to accept that it’s going to take out a substantial portion of a student population for the better part of two weeks every year. In nearly every school and district we work with, we see a similar pattern with a significant spike in absenteeism due to illness. According to Families Fighting Flu, “Every year in the U.S., children miss more than 38 million days of school due to the flu.” Kinda makes me think that instead of a summer break, we might as well take six weeks off at the start of each new year to keep vigil over our children and try out new veggie soup recipes.

Short of completely upending the traditional school calendar (an idea with merit BTW) there’s a lot schools can do to reduce absenteeism due to illness:

Awareness Campaign - Make staying healthy a school and community-wide priority with an aggressive awareness campaign. Families Fighting Flu has everything you need with their “Stay in the Game” campaign toolkit. They’ve also teamed up with Voices for Vaccines and Nurses Who Vaccinate to create the “Kick the Flu Out Of School” toolkit. Given historical trends in data, early January appears to be the best time to kick off this type of campaign.

Track School and District Illness Data - Schools should be tracking illness by using attendance codes that differentiate between doctor appointments, hospitalization and illness. Administrators should set a goal to beat last year’s illness absentee rate and share data within the school community. LearnSprout can makes this easy with our free data visualization tool.

Upgrade Air Circulation and Filtration Systems - This past June the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published results from a comprehensive study which showed that if California schools upgraded their HVAC systems to meet the state’s minimum requirements “…they would reduce illness absence by 3.4 percent and increase overall State funding to schools by $33 million.”

Open Windows or Classroom Doors - As weather permits, this is something we can do immediately to increase air circulation and reduce the spread of airborne germs.

Wash Your Hands! - Mother knows best of course. You’ve got to scrub ‘em good before you crunch your lunch! Make sure students have enough time to wash before lunch and when returning after recess. Take time to teach healthy habits, including how to properly sneeze or cough.

Use Hand Sanitizers - A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control way back in 2000 found that the use of hand sanitizers in classrooms can reduce absenteeism due to infectious illness by almost 20%. Caveat: The sanitizer must be at least 60% alcohol-based, so read labels carefully, ask parents to help stock up and strategically place a bottles throughout each classroom.

Host Onsite Flu Vaccinations - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The single best way to protect against seasonal flu and its potential severe complications is for children to get a seasonal influenza vaccine each year.” The CDC provides planning materials and templates as well as extensive resources to help school planners prepare for School-located Vaccination (SLV).

Stay Home If Sick - Of course, if a child does become sick, the best way to avoid the spread of illness is to keep the child at home. Schools should review attendance policies to make sure they are supportive of families with sick children. In fact, the CDC goes so far as to recommend that schools avoid the use of perfect attendance awards.

So while illness might be an unavoidable fact of life for increasingly crowded classrooms, there is a lot we can do to lessen the impact and keep more kids in school. It all starts with a determined mindset of educators to raise a call to action, get kids immunized and fight the spread of cooties within our schools. Here at LearnSprout HQ, we will be watching the coming flu season closely and posting updates on our Twitter and Facebook feeds. I am hopeful that with more awareness and activism, we can make a lasting change that helps keep our kids healthy and in the classroom.

 - Paul

Dec 04

Introducing LearnSprout 1.1!

It’s only been four months since we first launched LearnSprout and we now have nearly 2,000 schools using our free reporting tool to analyze attendance patterns and spot at-risk students. Since launch, the team has been busy at work building new features and optimizing performance and today we’re excited to announce version 1.1 of LearnSprout.


The first thing you might notice when you log into LearnSprout is that reports load extremely fast. Most ad-hoc reports using data from the current school year are nearly instant. In a stress test that included twenty schools, LearnSprout was able to report six and a half years worth of data - more than two million attendance events - in just over 90 seconds.

On the back-end, we’ve improved nightly data syncs which now run at a fraction of the time compared to version 1.0. Our specialized integration method does not put any load on your SIS server nor does it interfere with nightly processes. This opens the door to school districts with enrollments up to 100,000 students who can now use LearnSprout to generate instant analytics on their entire student population.

Student List Improvements

When you run a report for the current school year, a list of students with attendance events matching your search criteria appears at the bottom of the page. This list is now sorted by the number of attendance events from most to least. This allows you to quickly spot chronically absent students.

One popular request was the ability to view additional detail for each student in the list. With 1.1, when you click on a student an expanded view displays summary totals by event type and date along with a complete listing of all attendance events.


Improved Account Management

Creating accounts for school principals, counselors, secretaries and other administrators can multiply the benefits of LearnSprout across a district, but folks have told us that the process felt a bit cumbersome and several issues were identified. So here’s what we did:

Now it’s super-easy for master account owners to create accounts and define permissions for all users within a district.

Improved UX

We received a ton of feedback from customers on how we can improve the look and feel of LearnSprout. The new design greatly simplifies the experience making it easier to navigate and run reports. There are more improvements than we can list here, but the effect is clear. Playing with your data should be fun, not confusing!

More to Come!

We’re pretty excited about the release of 1.1 and are loving the early feedback we’re hearing from customers who are geeking out on their own data… But while we’d like to pat ourselves on the back, we’re completely preoccupied with adding the new College Readiness report and are still on track to ship sometime in the coming months. We’re also working hard at adding support for additional student information systems. Since we first announced LearnSprout late last year, we’ve had requests to connect with 70 different types of student information systems! (You can see the complete list on our sign-up page.) And of course, there is no shortage of great ideas for LearnSprout. One of the best parts about working with customers is watching their eyes light up when they see their data for the first time and then listening to all the feature requests that follow. As it stands today, we’ve got more ideas than we can handle, but this is a good problem to have!

Happy data mining!

- Frank


Oct 30

The Challenge With Tracking Chronic Absenteeism


With the start of the school year there has been a new push to draw attention to the issue of chronic absenteeism. Organizations such as Attendance Works, Boost AttendanceEveryone Graduates and America’s Promise Alliance have been doing excellent work to raise awareness and to help educators understand how to identify and fight chronic absenteeism. 

Thanks to the work of these groups we now know that we need to move past our traditional focus on truancy and attend to the systemic issues surrounding absenteeism. Research shows that when students miss 10% or more of school for any reason, they are at risk and that students in the early grades are more likely to run into problems in subsequent years once they become chronically absent.

The first step of course in dealing with chronic absenteeism is to identify the problem and determine which students are at, or trending toward that 10% mark. Most educators have the ability to run reports and pull attendance data from their student information system, but once that raw data lands in their lap they’re faced with the challenge of transforming that data into useful information.

At the elementary level where attendance is typically taken once daily it is relatively easy to figure out what percentage of school has been missed for each student. But when dealing with middle and high school attendance things become exceeding complex. For example, a student with six periods each day misses fifth and sixth period for a week. In most states, that student would be counted as ‘Present’ for each day, yet the student has missed 30% of instruction time. In California, a student need only be present for a single period to be counted as ‘Present’ for the day.

In order to spot students with chronic absenteeism in middle and high school, we’re going to have to base our calculation on period attendance.

This is a real challenge for most school districts. Because the number of attendance events for each day is multiplied by the number of periods, the number of records in a typical attendance data export is often beyond what an Excel spreadsheet can handle after just a few months of school.

Some districts have data specialists with the tools and experience to deal with these large data sets, but even in the best circumstances it’s exceedingly difficult to determine the potential number of class meetings for each student. Some classes meet every day, while others meet every other day. Some meet only a single day per week. Some students may have courses scheduled for six periods while others may have five or seven. There are differing bell schedules and term lengths, holidays, school activities, snow days and other variables that make it nearly impossible to determine the actual number of class meetings for each student for a given date range.

To be honest, there are no perfect solutions. In an ideal world, student information systems would have this type of report built in so that teachers and administrators could easily view the percentage of school missed for each student, but the companies that build these systems face the same problems with calculation. Student information systems are increasingly constrained by a myriad of processes and reports that limit their ability to add processor-intensive functions and this one would be a doozy.

I wish I could say at this point that LearnSprout has the answer. We can do a lot and what we’ve built is worthy of a humblebrag, but calculating a percentage of school missed for middle and high school students remains for the time being, just out of our reach. That being said, here’s what we can do: Using LearnSprout administrators can list students by the total number of absences they’ve earned for all attendance codes that mean ‘Absent’. We can do this at a school, a group of schools or across a district. From there, it’s up to administrators to figure out where to draw the line for chronic absences. 

It’s not perfect, but it’s close. Most importantly, it’s timely, fast and easy… Something any school administrator can do without a bunch of training. Our goal was to inspire ordinary folks to geek-out on their own data and decentralize critical reporting. Since we launched LearnSprout just a few months ago we’ve had nearly 1,500 schools hop onboard. So far, so good, but there’s still a ton of work to do.

Of course, this is just the first step. Technology can only go so far and can’t always explain why a student is missing school. The causes behind absenteeism are typically complex, requiring a nuanced and sensitive approach to intervention. At the end of the day it’s the educator on the front lines who will move the needle, but before the “Why?” comes the “Who?”… And that’s where we can help.

 - Paul

Jul 22

LearnSprout Dashboard v. 1.0 - Now Available!


We’re pretty excited over here at LearnSprout HQ. 

After months of research, development, customer feedback, optimization, tweaking and re-tweaking, LearnSprout Dashboard is finally live!!!

For those of you who haven’t heard already, LearnSprout Dashboard is a free analytics tool that plugs into your student information system and converts all that historical data into simple charts and graphs. That’s it. It may not sound like much, but consider for a moment that the average student information system holds anywhere from four to ten years worth of data, the vast majority of which is referenced once for state-reporting then forgotten forever!

We wanted to inspire ordinary folks to geek-out on all that data, so we designed Dashboard in a way that an average principal or superintendent with no technical background could get setup in a few minutes and start poking around. We love services like Mint.com and Google Analytics and were inspired by their simplified workflow and no-frills approach to design, so we did our best to come up with something that anyone could use without requiring any training whatsoever. 

With this first version we wanted to do one thing, and do it well. So we chose to focus on the most universal measure of student engagement: Attendance. LearnSprout Dashboard pulls in virtually all your attendance data, and translates it into easy-to-read charts and graphs. At a glance, you’ll be able to see trends and spot anomalies. The next version of Dashboard will include the ability to perform similar analysis on all historical grades.

When you first log in, we show you the last seven days of attendance events. Each bar in the graph represents a different day and is divided into segments representing each attendance code. Simple search filters allow you to run a new report, searching by:

With each filter option, you can choose all, some, or one value(s). For example, you to select a subset of attendance codes that mean ‘absent’ for just your elementary schools for all of last year. Or you could select all codes that mean ‘tardy’ for all of your high schools, for all seniors for the last ten years. 

Once Dashboard grabs the data, it displays the results in a bar graph and then segments the resulting attendance data by grade level, gender, lunch status, race/ethnicity, attendance code and period. This way you can see the percentages and makeup of your attendance events. Slicing and dicing… It’s what we do!

Another thing we should mention is that LearnSprout Dashboard is wicked fast. We ran a stress-test that included all attendance events for all students in a large school district of 37 schools. The resulting report resulted in nearly four-million attendance events, but it took only a few minutes to generate.

Naturally, we’re seeing incredible demand for Dashboard. Seems that a lot of folks are curious to see what their data looks like and are eager to take Dashboard for a spin. Because of this, we’re starting with a phased roll-out, on-boarding districts in batches based on the order that they registered. We hope to have most districts live on Dashboard in the coming weeks. To reserve your spot, visit our signup page at https://www.learnsprout.com/school_signup.

More to come!!

 - Joe

Jul 01

ISTE Conference Report and iPad Mini Contest Winner

Last week Anna and I attended the ISTE conference in San Antonio, the largest edtech conference in the U.S. with more than 20,000 educators and vendors from around the world. I can’t speak to the overall quality of this years’ conference as I did not leave my post for three days, but there are some great reviews from Edsurge, Getting Smart and The Cornerstone. Reading these I regret not finding a way explore a bit more but we were on a mission to get LearnSprout Dashboard in front of as many people as possible. 


From 9:00 until 5:30 every day, we were on our feet in our booth meeting with folks who happened by our modest space in the exhibition floor. We shared a booth with nineteen other edtech startups in the new Startup Pavillion, a 20x50-foot space with five kiosks, each divided into four, tiny two-foot squares. 

Sure, it may not have been much but collectively we had a strong presence and I was encouraged to see a high degree of interest in startups from attendees. I don’t think more than 30 seconds past without a conversation and by the end of the day Anna and I were both completely spent. Our Kiosk included three other companies: Miss Humblebee’s Academy, Learnetic and Woot Math who were awesome and patient neighbors as Anna and I scurried about, trying to lure attendees with the prospect of a free sticker and a chance to win an iPad Mini. On the back of each sticker was a label which my two kids dutifully applied before the conference. The label asked folks to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


The stickers proved to be very popular… by the end of the conference we had exhausted our supply of more than 1000 stickers and had met almost 400 people. Online we gained 472 new friends on Twitter and Facebook… A huge success. Folks were very enthusiastic about LearnSprout Dashboard and I think the conference went a long way to strengthen our name within the broader edtech scene.

iPad Mini Contest

To help generate awareness we held a contest to win an iPad mini. Everyone we met with was automatically entered, along with folks who participated online. This included the #NOTatISTE folks who spent the week learning vicariously, following the online conversation on Twitter as well as attendees at PowerSchool University in Anaheim. Today I’m happy to announce our winner is Jennifer Carey from Miami, Florida! Congrats Jennifer, and thanks for helping to spread the word about LearnSprout!!

 - Paul

May 21

Crossing the Chasm in Edtech


Editor’s note: This piece was was originally published back in April 2013 for the Education Innovation Summit blog.

As we approach summer, broad trends in Internet accessibility, mobile computing, cloud-based services, and the lean startup movement have paved the way for the emergence of a new generation of educational entrepreneurs building improved services for educators. These services are providing more choice, data accessibility, cost effectiveness and user friendliness than ever before.

Historically, education technology has been mired by incompatible systems capped by the limits of regional distribution and site-specific customizations. The inefficiency characteristic of selling to districts meant slow revenue growth and consequently, low interest from mainstream investors seeking evidence of rapid traction and high ROIs. The move towards cloud-hosted, web-based application delivery (i.e. Software as a Service) promises to change this dynamic and bring a more rapid pace of content and service innovation in the education sector.

Specifically, we believe four trends are catalyzing this new movement in EdTech:

  1. Low cost of building a technology company enabled by cloud computing
  2. Emergence of education startup accelerators and grassroots interest via hackathons
  3. Renewed investment activity in education companies
  4. Charter schools with flexibility to experiment with pedagogy acting as attractive early partners for startups

In a July 2012 report by GSV Advisors, the firm calculated that investment activity in education companies surpassed the transaction activity in 1999 during the first dot-com era. While many investors still shy away from business models that sell to bureaucratic environments (e.g. schools), companies such as Edmodo have attracted investment from the likes of Greylock Partners, Benchmark Capital, and Union Square Ventures. In our opinion, this return of capital to the education sector will attract a new class of entrepreneurs to utilize the mentorship networks via accelerator programs and opt to contribute to the education sector.

Through our own customer research, we have identified strong demand for new categories of educational software and new methods of educational content delivery. We agree with Marc Andreesson’s vision that Software Will Eat The World. In this vision, every industry will become increasingly software-based, where processes and methods used in the workplace will be increasingly facilitated by software.

Today’s educators want applications that exist in an interconnected edtech ecosystem, accessible at work and at home, across multiple devices and always up-to-date, but this presents a unique challenge in education where antiquated systems store data in hard to reach places. Data is the lifeblood of a new edtech ecosystem. Without it, new edtech solutions inherit the symptoms of the previous generation with users manually entering, exporting and importing data. Early adopters of edtech have proven that they’re willing to live with this inconvenience, but if we ever want to see rapid mainstream adoption, we must find a way to solve the data problem.

This is the chasm for the new generation of educational technology. There is great momentum in edtech and all signs point to an edtech renaissance, but until we find a way to bridge the data gap, frustrated teachers will continue to abandon new solutions.

 - Anthony

Apr 12

LearnSprout Wins First Prize in the MBA Impact Investing Network

Today I am incredibly excited to announce yet another award! LearnSprout has been selected as the winning enterprise in the MBA Impact Investing Network. This is a huge honor for the team as it caps off a rigorous, multi-phased selection process led by some of the most discriminating minds in business: MBA candidates.

Spearheaded by Bridges Ventures U.S. as part of its field-building efforts and distinct from its impact investment fund which targets later stage companies, the MBA Impact Investing Network is an experiential learning opportunity where students at U.S. business schools source and conduct diligence on early stage impact investments, with each campus presenting their recommendations to an Investment Committee (IC) composed of expert impact investors for a potential investment as part of an existing angel round.

LearnSprout was brought to the network by the Wharton Social Venture Fund (WSVF). The WSVF team, led by Thomas Kidd, included students from The Wharton School of Business competing against teams from Harvard Business School, Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the Kellogg School of Management. The team served as a sourcing channel for social impact investors and the top deals were presented to a committee of expert impact investors including Brian Trelstad (Bridges Ventures). Multiple rounds of due diligence were conducted that included more than 100 companies in education, health, nutrition and energy. In the end, LearnSprout was selected as the sole recipient of the $50,000 angel investment made by investor Ron Moelis of L+M Development Partners.

During the selection process, we were impressed with how quickly the WSVF team came up to speed on K-12 education and the edtech industry. The process brought real value beyond the prestige of the award and helped fine-tune our strategy and messaging through a series of thought-provoking conversations which inspired us to examine our assumptions and models more critically. 

I asked Thomas Kidd, Associate and Sector Lead for WSVF what it was about LearnSprout that put us over the top, and here’s what he had to say:

"We were really impressed with the scale of LearnSprout’s vision.  LearnSprout is attacking a major problem and has the potential to fundamentally change the way our education system functions. It is incredibly exciting to work with them."

Ashley Beckner, the WSVF co-president and managing director added:

"WSVF provides capital to entrepreneurs creating positive social change through profitable businesses. LearnSprout’s sustainable and scalable model accelerates developers’ ability to bring impactful education products to classrooms – exactly what we look for.”

I can’t express how validating statements like these are for the team. When Anthony, Joe and I quit our jobs to found LearnSprout we did so because we wanted to do more than make a comfortable living… we wanted to make our own small dent in the universe… One that would have a lasting, positive impact on society. We may not be there yet, but it’s good to know we’re headed in the right direction.

So, today our office is brimming with pride and gratitude. We owe the team at WSVF a huge THANK YOU!! for all their hard work and look forward to watching these talented future captains of industry succeed in the exciting world of business.

To learn more about the Wharton Social Venture Fund, visit whartonsocialventurefund.org

 - Frank

Apr 08

LearnSprout Wins Top Honor in the 2013 Edtech Digest Cool Tool Awards for Best Emerging Technology Solution


We’re thrilled to announce that LearnSprout has been named Best Emerging Technology Solution in the 2013 EdTech Digest Awards!

The program honors tools, trendsetters and leaders in the education and technology sector. A panel of industry influencers and veterans evaluated more than 200 finalists from over 40 categories. LearnSprout was honored in the “Cool Tool” award category which recognizes new, emerging and established technology solutions for education.

Thanks to all our school and developer partners, friends and supporters for your help and making LearnSprout the best emerging technology solution of 2013!

Mar 03

Our Picks for ‘Must See’ Sessions at SXSWedu

Too much good stuff. It’s hard to choose and lord knows, we’ll be scrambling to just keep up with our own crammed schedule, but here is our list of must-see sessions this week. Ecosystems, and big data seem to be a major theme for this year’s conference… a topic which hits close to home. This is our first SXSWedu ever, so if you see us, please stop us and introduce yourself. We’re SXSWedu noobs and need friends :)

The New EdTech Ecosystem - Will It Survive?

Edtech enthusiasts love new ideas and are happy to suffer through the fits and starting characteristics of many emerging startups, but the same cannot be said for the mainstream educator. With increasing class sizes and less time to discover, learn, and use these new solutions, edtech startups are facing an attention drought that threatens to kill the nascent edtech ecosystem. As the market becomes flooded with new tools, how can startups convince educators to spend their limited time and resources to give their products a chance?

Building Schools Into the Innovation Ecosystem

Schools and districts have typically been fortresses against innovation, even when they exist within communities where innovation thrives. Funding in schools is often scarce, yet hundreds of companies and hundreds of millions of dollars are hard at work trying to solve (what they think are) schools’ problems. Entrepreneurs and their investors are often frustrated by a culture they disdain without understanding and educators while educators and elected leaders are wary of spending scarce dollars and political capital on for-profit solutions that don’t address what they see as core problems.

This panel will explore the history and reasons for the apparent disconnect between schools and innovation and show how a few districts are working break it down by creating Innovation Ecosystems in which educators, entrepreneurs, donors, and VCs work nimbly together to enhance the triple-bottom-line.

The New Ecosystems for Ed Innovation

We believe greater teacher engagement in educational product design will yield more valuable tools (we’ve witnessed as much), but implementation and scale–without which K12 innovation can’t occur–rely on a broader array of stakeholders. We will discuss the stakeholder roles resident in each of these communities, integration with schools as development partners, and the feasibility and implications of a “big tent” approach to ed entrepreneurship.

Finally, we’ll examine why the founders of these models made the decisions they did as architects of their planned communities, what has proven most challenging in their models, and what’s been most successful to date.

Donuts, Data and Deep Dives

We all remember the Dunkin’ Donuts commercial where a sleepy employee rolls out of bed and murmurs, “It’s time to make the donuts.” Every day. Without fail.

Our public education system suffers the same rinse-repeat drudgery. Educators teach to the mean in industrial-age classrooms. Top students are bored; others get left behind. Everyone suffers through standardized tests that are over-valued as measures of success & progress.

Personalized, data-driven education can break the cycle. The data is already there: educators collect troves of it every day. But then it gets stored and siloed. To finally address our national education crisis, we need to put that data to work in classrooms.

Our panel will address 3 topics:

  1. The current education data landscape
  2. How well-deigned tools & standardized data can help teachers & kids
  3. The ways in which standardization opens up the frontier for innovation

Is Student Data Education’s Next Frontier?

Pundits paint a bleak picture of education: low college grad rates, high student debt, and weak market-ready skills. But, imagine if students could plan their education-to-career path with higher chances of success?

Big Data plays a central role in driving this impact. Edtech companies, the government, and NGOs invest significant money to develop comprehensive datasets relevant to learning outcomes like student test scores and teacher quality. Concrete initiatives are emerging that could be early indicators of data’s disruptive impact.

This panel explores how Big Data could change education to improve student achievement. Beginning with a broad vision for Big Data, panelists will dive into concrete models being tested. These include the use of data to recommend a lifetime of “best fit” educational opportunities, dynamic technology tools that can forecast a learner’s education and professional trajectory, and non-profit-driven efforts to unlock public-private synergy.

I Know What You’re Thinking. Really, I Do.

Data collection is not new. Technology has long allowed us to collect massive amounts of information to spot patterns in learning and help validate effective teaching approaches. Today, however, we are able to collect and analyze data that gives us an incredibly deep view of exactly what students are thinking to the tune of nearly 50,000 data points per hour per student. It allows us to see and better understand students’ natural, independent, and original thinking in real-time. In turn, learning can be personalized to each individual student based on how they think, capturing and refining concepts that build the foundation for long-term academic success. This new class of intelligent adaptive learning technology is the true game changer in education. It learns the learner as the learner learns. Think about it for a few moments. That’s big.

A Lord, a Lady and a Deputy Walk into a…

Ed-Tech thought leader Audrey Watters joins us to ‘Hack Education’ across the pond with the former Minister of Education for England, Lord Knight of Weymouth, and the USDOE’s Office of Ed-Tech Deputy Director, Richard Culatta. This powerhouse panel will forecast the international emerging technology developments and how edupreneurs can contribute their ideas to the global marketplace.

Building the Field of Learning Analytics

This panel will focus on the launch of a cross-sector project to engage leaders in academia, industry, government and philanthropy - devoted to “Building the Field of Learning Analytics for Personalized Learning”. The project is intended to accelerate emergence of an organized community of data scientists devoted to education data and learning analytics. This is a national effort which in its first phase will address 4 foundational questions: (1) define critical questions and provide a conceptual framework for building the field of learning analytics and a new generation of Education Data scientists, (2) articulate and prioritize new tools, approaches, policies, markets, and programs of study associated with the field of learning analytics, (3) determine resources needed to address priorities, and (4) map how to implement the field building strategy and how to evaluate progress.

Big Dreams, Big Data: Putting EduAnalytics to Work

Successfully navigating the pathway to possibility that is education is becoming a must for individuals, communities, and our country. The data are clear: completing credentials that count—especially at the postsecondary level—opens up opportunities in education, economics, social mobility, and personal efficacy. Given the great need and the flood of education data streaming from next-gen technologies, the question now is can we put analytics to work as we have in the health care, consumer, and social networking worlds to help more striving students succeed? This interactive dialogue with key education analytics thought leaders will explore this question and make the case that more of these efforts need to be focused on getting the power that fuels Mayo Clinic Analytics, Amazon, and eHarmony to students, faculty, and advisors.

An inBloom Day in the Life: Instruction

Personalizing learning is about maximizing every student’s potential, but how can teachers leverage student data to personalize learning for every student, including those with special challenges in need of an intervention? Come see technology providers demonstrate how inBloom-connected services can support the work teachers do to get the right resources to students and to understand the impact of those resources. See how data helps inform a picture of the whole student and a teacher’s ability to craft a student’s personal learning journey.