Learning Resources

Startup Delivers Online Teacher Feedback on Ed Tech

Teachers and administrators are getting more help sorting out the education technology they may be considering for their classrooms and schools. Investors have just poured $800,000 into Lea(R)n from LearnTrials, one of several new online services intended to help educators evaluate software based on feedback from other educators. The company is part of a category of Yelp-like services that use crowdsourced feedback and assessments to help buyers sort through and identify the right software for their needs.

The service allows users to share their experiences and ask questions of others about 3,500 products that are currently in the repository. While the service is free for individual teachers, districts pay "less than $1/student" for access to the service; pricing for state education agencies and education service centers is "custom."
Lea(R)n allows users to share their experiences and ask questions of others about 3,500 products that are currently in the repository.

"Every year schools and districts spend millions on products that don't move the needle for students," said Brad Kessler, former head of procurement for Chicago Public Schools and advisor to Lea(R)n, in a prepared statement. "Lea(R)n is the right team and the right solution to solve this massive problem."

Investors include Edovate Capital, which focuses on education investments, as well as AT&T, Kaplan and Techstars, among others.

The program received a boost this summer when the Department of Public Instruction in North Carolina said it would encourage its teachers to work with the service to help make decisions about classroom technologies. LearnTrials was piloted with members of the state's Governor’s Teacher Network in 2014.

"Our teachers are the most important asset we have in helping our students succeed in North Carolina, so getting them the technologies they need and that work well in classrooms is critical," said North Carolina's State Superintendent, June Atkinson in a statement. "The Lea(R)n platform gives us an easy way to get real feedback from educators so we can better determine what learning tools are effective in a timely, cost-efficient manner."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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