#SharkTankEDU Starter Guide v1.2

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iZone hosts monthly #SharkTankEDU events that bring together educators and edtech startups to validate product solutions against real issues in educations. #SharkTankEDU provides a safe space for educators to critically evaluate upcoming products and provide early-stage feedback that helps companies develop more responsive products. This starter guide is designed for districts, schools, and other entities that support schools with technology adoption to run their own #SharkTankEDU.

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#SharkTankEDU Starter Guide v1.2

  1. 1. #SharkTankEDU Starter Guide   VALIDATING NEW EDTECH SOLUTIONS WITH SCHOOL COMMUNITIES VERSION 1.2
  2. 2. We designed #SharkTankEDU as a low- barrier event to validate or test assumptions about emerging edtech tools. Based loosely on the reality series, #SharkTankEDU provides time and a safe space for educators to give critical feedback, based on the instructional and operational needs of their schools, that helps companies create more responsive products. Since we launched the first iteration in 2013, we have hosted monthly #SharkTankEDU events with teachers, administrators, students and parents participating as edtech “sharks”. This model has since been adapted across the country for the classroom and by nonprofits in support of their local school districts. The guide is targeted to district personnel, school staff, and other entities that support educators with technology adoption. We have created this guide to share our tips and practices to encourage others to run their own #SharkTankEDU event that is responsive to the needs their local edtech community. This is a guide for running your own #SharkTankEDU to open dialogue between educators & schools and edtech designers & developers. #SharkTankEDU is a project of Innovate NYC Schools, an initiative of the New York City Department of Education’s iZone to foster a robust edtech ecosystem.
  3. 3. #SharkTankEDU Format Product Demo 7 minutes Startups present a demo of their edtech tool for the shark panel. Shark Panel Q&A 20 minutes Sharks lead interactive discussion about product uses and functionality. Shark Feedback Forms 3 minutes Sharks complete a short, online feedback form. A typical #SharkTankEDU event includes a facilitator, three edtech startups or companies, and a panel of seven educators, students, or parents (a.k.a, edtech “sharks”). Each event is curated to meet a school or classroom needs, e.g., a panel of high school teachers are recruited to review edtech tools designed to supplement high school level content. The event is structured in three rounds with approximately 30 minutes devoted to each product. In each round, companies start with a brief demo, visually showing how the “sharks” may use their product to address a school need or classroom challenge. Following the product demo, the “sharks” lead a Q&A discussion with the presenter engaging in discussion about product functionality, user flows, operational needs, and instructional considerations. At the end of each round, the “sharks” complete an online feedback form. The “shark” feedback is aggregated after the event and shared anonymously with the presenters. Repeat Each Round  
  4. 4. Getting Started  RESOURCES NEEDED ü  Event space conducive to open dialogue with WIFI and presentation capabilities. Local tech accelerators and community hubs work well. ü  A facilitator with knowledge of local education context and tech community. ü  Educators, students and parents with diverse backgrounds and experience to participate as edtech “sharks”. ü  Edtech companies, preferably entrepreneurs and startups, ready to demo their product and open to fielding questions and feedback. ü  Tablets or other mechanism for collecting “shark” feedback.
  5. 5. Identify a facilitator who can liaise between stakeholders. PRO TIPS UNDERSTAND THE LOCAL CONTEXT The facilitator should have knowledge of policies, instructional practices, and operational considerations for schools choosing technology as well as an understanding of the edtech market. ENGAGE AND INCLUDE The facilitator’s main role is to engage with education and edtech stakeholders and enable a constructive discussion. The facilitator should be responsible for recruiting “Shark” panels and edtech companies to participate in #SharkTankEDU events. GUIDE AND TRANSLATE During #SharkTankEDU, the facilitator maintains the event flow and structure. The facilitator should also be an active listener in the discussion, translating lingo between the “Sharks” and presenters when necessary.
  6. 6. Identify “Sharks” and EdTech Participants. PRO TIPS MOBILIZE EDTECH SHARKS The facilitator should actively identify and empower solutions- oriented educators, students, or parents that represent a diverse set of school communities—they are the experts. “Sharks” should be empowered with individual agency to drive an open conversation about real operational and instructional considerations for technology adoption in schools. CURATE PRODUCTS RELEVANT TO LOCAL NEEDS The facilitator should meet with edtech stakeholders to demo their product prior to their participation in a #SharkTankEDU event. We host open Office Hours to provide entrepreneurs and startups with information about the local schools landscape and to vet products that might be a good fit for #SharkTankEDU or other programmatic engagement like pilots.
  7. 7. Create a safe space & collaborative tone. PRO TIPS MANAGE EXPECTATIONS #SharkTankEDU is designed to be product focused, the event is not intended to convert to sales. Be sure to set the rules of engagement ahead of time to manage expectations of all participants. FACILITATE DISCUSSION We believe in providing agency for all participants to engage in an open conversation about real operational and instructional considerations for technology adoption in schools. During the Q&A portion, advise the “sharks” to ask probing questions and focus their comments on actionable feedback. Use an online tool like Google Forms to capture and share overall feedback post-event. Note: This also serves as a quick and easy archive.
  8. 8. The #SharkTankEDU Starter Guide was created by Preeti Birla and Angelina Lopez. The #SharkTankEDU Toolkit is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. #SharkTankEDU is a project of the iZone’s Innovate NYC Schools edtech initiative, co-designed with seven teachers and three edtech entrepreneurs to enable smarter information flow and build empathy between product developers and NYC Schools stakeholders. Learn more about our work at izonenyc.org. #SharkTankEDU is supported by the USDOE Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Special thanks to ThoughtWorks New York for generously providing event space for #SharkTankEDU. We want to hear from you! Please send us any questions or comments. Have you tried running a #SharkTankEDU? Share your story about the experience. We need your feedback to improve this guide. @innovateNYCedu innovation@schools.nyc.gov

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