Author Archive for Michael Adams

The Broken Feedback Loop in Education (Plus 4 Ways to Fix It)

Education's Broken Feedback Loop

“A+, Michael! Job well done.” I looked down at the English paper that was just handed back to me. It couldn’t have been that good. I wrote it in a couple hours. Heck, I probably didn’t even cite correctly.

Was it truly an A+ paper?

I flipped through the pages (spotting several spelling errors) and there’s a tiny red pen mark at the end of that paper. That’s it. There was nothing wrong?

Where’s the feedback?

This doesn’t just happen to me. It happens to thousands of students every day. They receive poor feedback from teachers who, quite frankly, have gotten lazy. Not a mark on the paper. Just a grade.

I bring this up because I saw a picture on Facebook this week that depicts a student’s “blabbing on” as an “answer” to the question. He received an A- on the short essay and clearly states the teacher won’t read his answer anyway. And he’s right.

I realize teachers have a lot on their plate, but shouldn’t they provide feedback to their students? Shouldn’t they be working with students to improve their skills?

Without feedback, students believe there’s nothing wrong with what was handed in. It’s perfect, less a few grammatical errors and maybe a typo.

This made me think I had stellar writing skills.

Until they were ripped apart by a demanding former boss with high standards. According to him, I simply could not write well. So, he taught me.

He taught me how to make logical arguments using the pyramid principle. He taught me how to keep sentences shorter. And to keep readers heading down a slippery slope until they need to take action.

It’s a different style of writing.

That’s not to say my history and English papers should be thrown out the door. It’s simply persuasive writing – something I never got exposed to in grade school. At least, not in the way I am now.

Feedback needs to improve student work.

Constructive criticism only works if students are given a chance to improve on what they turned in. Sure, there are first and second drafts, but if an assignment is poorly executed, and there’s no chance for feedback, how does the student become a better student?

Feedback is broken in education. It’s perceived as a chore for many teachers. While I haven’t been in school for a couple years, I’d like to propose a few ways of fixing the broken feedback loop:

1. Go beyond the red pen

Sometimes feedback that comes in the form of red pen is intimidating — not to mention useless. Think about other ways to provide your students with feedback. Maybe one-on-one meetings about papers or picking a student’s sample (with anonymity of course) and going over it in class. Close the cap on your red pen and start giving personalized feedback to help your students grow.

2. Work on more than a couple drafts

One and done is the worst vehicle for effective feedback. Do at least two drafts before students hand in the final assignment. This gives them plenty of time to work on what they believe is the best they can do. And it also means you have to provide actionable feedback on each draft. Do this a couple times over the semester and watch your student projects improve dramatically.

3. Incorporate peer feedback

Teachers aren’t the only ones who can provide feedback. Often times, students are the best to give advice, criticism and feedback. Why? Because students listen to other students and take their opinions to heart. Just like comforting friends after a high school break-up, they have a connection to each other you and your students will likely never have.

4. Incorporate real-world scenarios and education

Who wants to work on something that doesn’t impact their lives? Students want to make a difference. That means working on real-world projects and providing feedback on how to generate better results, write a better fundraising letter, or explain history to 3rd graders. Get your student’s hands dirty with experience and they’ll learn lots.

Feedback is only as good as the person giving it. That means poor feedback results in poor results. Work with your students to create great works of prose, models, and other projects. They’re only going to improve if you constructively tell them where and what they could improve on. Don’t make them think what they turned in is perfect.

Feedback helps students learn. And isn’t that all what we’re after?

10 of the Best Thanksgiving Resources for Teachers

Thanksgiving Resources for Teachers

One of the big movements on social media this month is the November Thankfulness Campaign. It’s when you write something you’re thankful for each day of the month (It’s also no-shave November, but that’s a story for another blog post!).

The thankfulness campaign got me thinking about Thanksgiving this morning. The food, family, and the meaning of the holiday. That prompted a quick Google search to see what was on the web to help you incorporate Thanksgiving into your curriculum. Turns out, there’s a few resources out there you should know about:

1. Scholastic’s Guide to the First Thanksgiving

Want to know literally anything about Turkey Day? This is your website. It’s got everything you could ever imagine – from history to worksheets categorized by grade. They’ve done a great job.

2. Thanksgiving Story Worksheet

What I like about this worksheet is it’s interactive. Your students read about the story of Thanksgiving and are asked questions as they progress like “What do you think the pilgrims brought with them?”. I like that it can either be done as a solo activity or a group discussion.

3. Thanksgiving Color Pages (You’ve got to color, right?)

So, this is a little bit of stretch. Coloring was always therapeutic for me in school. so I figured it might be a relaxing activity for your kids. This page has a couple print-outs for you to use. And make sure your students color inside the lines. :p

4. History of Thanksgiving from the History Channel

Video is an amazing tool for the classroom. It keeps students engaged and is a nice break from reading or using a whiteboard. This History of Thanksgiving video gives you a great overview – and it’s not dry (like some things on the History Channel).

5. Map Your Recipe

I thought this resource was unique. Enter in any recipe – let’s say pumpkin pie – and it’ll tell you where all of those ingredients originated. While Home Economics isn’t really a class anymore, this could be fun for high school students interested in cooking and the migration of ingredients throughout the world.


With a brand-new revamped website, this guy has everything you’d want to know about the Mayflower – from a passenger list to genealogy. It’s neat to browse through everything, so head on over and take a look.

7. Thanksgiving Vocabulary

You’ve got to know the words of Thanksgiving! Here’s a list to get your students started so they’ll sound so well versed at the dinner table. Your students will blow their Grandparent’s minds when they start talking about gizzards and libations.

8. Hand-Turkey Templates

Who doesn’t love a hand-turkey? These are awesome and every student needs to make one at least once. Make this year, the year of the hand-turkey. Color and black & white templates are available here.

9. Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes

Cooking is a lesson, too – and it helps bring families together (which is what Turkey Day is all about). Send your students home with recipes to make with their parents the morning of the big feast.

10. Visual History of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

And the parade. Oh, the parade. It’s a Thanksgiving tradition. And it turns out there’s a ton of history behind it. The great part about this site is it’s a visual slideshow. Interaction for the win! Enjoy the visual history behind one of America’s largest parades!

What Thanksgiving resources have you found that help teach the meaning of Thanksgiving to your students? List them below in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

Assessing Your Students Just Got Easier: QuizBean Launches New Features

It’s Michael from QuizBean. Things have gotten way too exciting around here. Lots of teachers are signing up and using QuizBean in their classrooms daily. But, I’m here to tell you, QuizBean has gotten a whole lot more awesome.

QuizBean is now your go-to online tool for instant student assessment. You can check it out now or read more about it below.

What’s new with QuizBean:

Save hours of hand grading with InstantScore
Results are automatically send to your dashboard when students complete your quiz. That means you instantly know how your students did and where they may have tripped up.

Easily send quizzes to any of your students
Whether you want to send a quiz to students who stayed after school for extra help or an entire biology class, the choice is yours. Simply make a quiz, assign it to students, and hit send. It’s that easy.

Quickly add students and classes
QuizBean allows you to manage your students and classes from a simple-to-use dashboard. See who has taken each quiz and their score all on one screen.

Ready to discover the new QuizBean?

When you login to QuizBean, you’ll see your account has room for 26 students and unlimited classes. Plus, all the quizzes you’ve created will be there, too.

Take me to my QuizBean account!

5 Ways Class Participation Goes Beyond Raising Your Hand

“Half of you have a C- in class participation right now.”

My heart sank. Was I really failing that bad in class participation? The part of my grade that is usually so easy to get an “A” in?

The class was Trends in Modern Thought. It was to fulfill my social sciences requirement to graduate. The material was thick as mud. It was a tough class (somehow I received an A). And class participation was actually graded. The professor observed who talked and who didn’t.

I raised my hand and said what I thought was right. I was wrong every time. But, I participated.

You don’t have to make class participation that hard or impossible to reach. It should be fun and easy to participate in your class – not terrifying and impossible.

Here are 5 creative ways to check if your students are participating:

1. Seeing you for help

That story above with the C- in class participation? What helped me in that class was going to see my professor for extra help. I wasn’t going to let him intimidate me – I wanted an A (or at least a B+). If students want extra help from you – before or after school – view that as class participation. They want to do better. It takes a lot for students to realize they need help and ask for it. Reward the students who seek help with class participation points.

2. Participating in a discussion

This is the classic class participation strategy. But, I want to take it one step further. I believe participating in a classroom discussion doesn’t simply mean one or two-word answers to easy questions. It means making a meaningful contribution to the discussion – even if other students disagree. All the more for a lively debate, right?

3. Helping other students

Just because your students don’t raise their doesn’t mean they’re not participating. If you notice students working together in pairs or teams and certain students are helping others to understand concepts, I’d count that as participation. While it’s not participation with you, it shows your students are willing to teach concepts they understand to their classmates. I’d argue that’s even better than simply raising your hand.

4. Writing summaries of readings

I had a college professor who would check off on his student roster if you participated that class or not. For his intro classes, you had to raise your hand, but for 300 and 400-level classes he offered the option of submitting reading summaries that were 500 words or less. And that would count as your participation. While I only took advantage of it once or twice, I enjoyed having the option if the reading made little to no sense at the time. Try the summary idea with your students and see what they think.

5. Showing up

I write this one mainly for the college crowd, but even for the K-12 teachers. Your students have to show up to class to participate. Having perfect attendance could be a great way to motivate students. And make sure to allow for an absence or two because of family matters or sports. It’ll help your introverted students, too. (But, they should be doing one of the above strategies).

Class participation helps students who would otherwise be quiet, be engaged in your classroom. And it’s important to note that participation doesn’t have to mean raising their hand and speaking in front of everyone. There are other ways to incorporate everyone into your lesson.

Do you do anything creative to get your students talking? Let me know in the comments below.


Why Substitutes Should Have the Chance to Teach

When you were in grade school, did you have a favorite substitute teacher? Someone who was just so captivating, they kept your attention more so than your real teacher?

I remember my favorite substitute teacher – Mrs. Laduke. She handed out Jolly Ranchers to students (much to the chagrin of dentists worldwide) which made her quite popular. And we typically didn’t watch movies with Mrs. Laduke. She actually taught us something.

Substitutes are teachers, too.

I learned a lot from my substitute teachers. And I think the best part was when they actually veered off course and talked about their own life stories, their own lessons, and imparted wisdom on all of us.

Now, curriculum is strict – it’s often set in stone with little deviation possible. That’s unfortunate because you can learn so much from someone else who comes into the classroom.

And I think that’s why there’s been a movement to call substitutes “guest teachers”. It’s spot on – that is what they are. They’re not a guest speaker, but a guest teacher.

And we should give them a chance to do so. Here’s 5 reasons why:

1. They have their own stories

I put this one on the list because it reminded me of one particular substitute experience in 5th grade. His name was Mr. Mullen. He was a World War 2 veteran. One morning he brought a musket to class – a social studies class, mind you – and talked about his experience in the war. We were all psyched. I had him a few weeks later in a math class. He turned the math problems into WW2 context – it was fascinating. See, teachers have their own stories to share. Their own lives make for engaging (and teachable) content.

2. They enjoy teaching

Why would someone take a job substitute teaching? Do you think it’s for the pay? No way. It’s because they love to teach, they enjoy working with students, and well, it’s something to do during the day. So, let them teach. Let them do more than just show a movie. Let them put their own spin on your lesson plans. Sounds a little risky, but it’s a nice change of pace.

3. It’s a break for students to learn something else

Speaking of a change of pace, substitute teachers are a great break from their regular teacher. That’s not to say their teacher is boring or less engaging. It’s just nice to have someone else stand-up in front of the class for once. And it may be a whole new teaching style, too. Shake things up by giving the students someone and something else to focus on – and who knows, they may learn something valuable.

4. Increase credibility and skills

There are some substitute teachers out there who should be full-time teachers – they are that good. And you probably know some of them. Being a substitute increases your credibility in the school system and helps develop skills they may not be as strong in. This means they’re able to better their public speaking, handling rowdy students etc. — all experiences they can talk about should they be choosing to pursue a more permanent position elsewhere.

5. Makes it fun

Substitute teachers are fun – just like Mr. Mullen in 5th grade or Mrs. Laduke throughout middle and high school. Not only were they fun substitutes, but they got the class engaged regardless of topic.

Many of these reasons are simply going to be plowed over by the common core standards set to be enacted soon. On one hand, I support the standardization of learning, but on the other hand, I believe it hurts the authenticity, originality, and storytelling substitute teachers offer a classroom.

What do you think? What’s your experience with substitute teachers? Are they as valuable as I think they are? Let me know in the comments below.

Eliminate Boredom! Here’s 15 Games to Play at Recess

Who doesn’t love recess? Seriously!

It’s a chance to get out of the classroom, stretch your legs and meet new friends. (For teachers, I know it’s a time to shovel lunch). Recess is more for the kids, obviously.

But sometimes kids get bored. Sometimes they even end up nose-deep in their cell phones texting. Can you believe it? Elementary school students texting! (I’m only 25 years old, and it blows my mind how young students already have cell phones).

Take it old school and suggest your students play some games on the playground. Having been out of recess for quite some time, I took to the internet to find some fun alternatives to simply sitting in the sandbox. Here’s a list of 15 awesome games to play at recess:

1. Foursquare

If you don’t have a foursquare court on the pavement, quickly draw your own with chalk. It’s simply four squares in a grid. Grab a bouncy ball and start playing. The ball bounces from square to square (hit after each bounce). This game is great because it can involve the whole class as you rotate through players.

2. Hopscotch

If you don’t have a painted hopscotch pattern on the pavement, use chalk to make one. Not only is this fun and creative, but it gives students a chance to work on balance and coordination, too.

3. Sausage (make ‘em laugh)

I just read about this game online. A student stands in the center of a circle of friends. Then, the friends ask random questions. The student in the center must answer “sausage” without laughing. When they laugh, the student who asks the question gets a shot at being in the middle. Oh, and the word can be anything — it doesn’t have to be sausage.

4. 500

A classic for both guys and girl, all you need is a nerf football. The caller is separated from the group. They toss the ball in the air and yell out a point value (“25 points!”). The person who catched the ball gets the points. Pick a point total. The first person to make it to that total wins the game and becomes the next caller.

5. Fourbase Kickball (for indoor recess)

I thought I’d throw in an idea for indoor recess (besides reading time). Fourbase is just like regular kickball, but played with larger gym mats as bases. There are all kinds of rules that can be read about here if you’d like to play.

6. Tag (a classic)

This game needs no explanation. It’s awesome.

7. Mother May I

A classic alternative to red light green light below, this game has a mother as well as “children”. The children ask the mother if they can take a certain number of steps (these can be baby steps, big steps, leaps, etc). The mother can say yes or no. The game continues until the first child reaches the mother. Then, that student becomes the mother for the next game.

8. Red Rover

Send your students on over! A little bit of a physical game, students form two groups and yell “Red rover, red rover, send [student] over!” Then, that student tried to break through the line of students on the other side. If they do, they join their original team. If not, they trade teams. Continue until one team only has two people. The larger team is declared the winner.

9. Red Light Green Light

Alrtighty. We’re getting to the point in the list where I wish I was back in elementary school. Red Light Green Light is a classic. The leader yells “Green light!” as the other kids run toward them. Then they yell “Red Light!” and turn around. Anyone caught moving is out. The first person to tap the leader on the shoulder wins.

10. Duck Duck Goose

Another classic game I used to play in small groups. Get your students together, form a circle, and have one student walk around the circle tapping heads and saying “Duck, duck, duck….” and then they randomly pick “Goose”. That person has to run around the circle to catch the other person before they make it into their original spot. It’s the perfect game to get students energized for recess.

11. Freeze Tag

This is my personal favorite tag game. Have a group of students head to an open space and select one person as “it”. If you get tagged, you have to freeze and sit down. The only way you can get back up is if someone else tags you. The game is over when everyone is tagged. Here’s a fun variation: Those tagged remain standing with their legs in an A. The only way to get unfrozen is to have someone else crawl under them.

12. Water Balloon Toss

For many of you, it’s still blazing hot outside. And, it’ll never truly cool down. That’s where the water balloon toss comes in. Sure, it’s been played at carnival games for years, but it’s time to bring it back. Grab a small bag of water balloons at your local toy store. Fill them with water and line your students up in two separate lines. Toass away!

13. Find and Go Seek

It’s a stretch, but it might work. Have your students run around the playground and hide. Then have the “seeker” go and find them – with a time limit – so that other kids can trade roles. Sometimes they enjoy being the seeker and not hiding all of the time.

14. Sprint Races

A lot of students go home and slump over on the couch with their video games. Get your students moving! Doing sprint races with your class is a great way to introduce an active lifestyle to them — outside of gym class.

15. Your own game!

It’s your turn. What games did you play as a kid. Or, what games to your students come up with. Sometimes, kids have the best creative minds. They come up with games I would have never imagined.

Getting kids active and out of the classroom is important. It sets a precedent for them they may not have at home and keeps them participating in an active healthy lifestyle. Here’s to a fun-filled recess.

5 Reasons Retention is the Most Important Metric for Executive Training

Have you been trying to measure your training effectiveness? Do you want your team to better recall information they just learned a few days ago? Enter retention. It’s the most important metric in executive training.

But there’s one problem: Many corporate trainers come in, do their thing,  pack up and leave. Who wants that? You want to make sure they’ve got measurable results and your team is left remembering what they’ve just been taught.

That’s why you need to make sure your trainers are focusing on retention. Here’s why:

1. Helps build on previous lessons

When you’re in a multiple-day training, concepts learned on the first day often apply to material learned on the third day. To get the most out of training, attendees have to remember previous concepts. That means retention is key and you might need to make quizzes to keep attendees on their toes at the end/beginning of each day.

2. Makes your content credible

If you’re a corporate trainer with your own curriculum (instead of part of a nationally-recognized training group), you’re probably lacking a bit of credibility. That’s where retention comes in. With quizzes and other retention tools, prove that your training has a healthy retention rate, and you’ll have executives and large companies knocking on your door. They realize the importance of retention, too.

3. Allows others to teach your training

I’ve gone through several trainings – both online and in-person. And I’ve learned a ton (and remembered it, too). But one of the biggest benefits of these trainings is being able to teach others what I’ve learned. By explaining what I learned to others it helps me remember it. Think of how this applies to your company. Maybe you’ve got a new employee who needs help getting started. Have another employee teach them from what they’ve learned. That way, they have a friend in the workplace and you don’t have to spend your time on training!

4. Makes your boss happy (obviously)

This goes both ways: If you’re a trainer, the company (and the manager) is happy to have employees remember material, and the trainees immediate manager is happy because they have a well-trained employee on their team. For you, employee retention and satisfied clients are part of your marketing. They help refer you new clients and make for amazing testimonials to boost your credibility.

5. Builds better employees overtime

If you keep sending employees for training, they’ll build their skills – both social and professional. That means a couple years after investing in training, you’ll have a well-rounded employee. Someone who can teach others, make quick decisions, and lead a team to success. Sounds like a great employee to me!

Retention, although dreaded by many employees, is the most important metric for executive training. When employees and team members recall what they’ve learned, they’ll have better employee performance and be able to build upon what they’ve learned.

What about you? Do you agree? Let me know in the comments below!

The one reason students don’t remember your lessons

Students studying in the library

“Why don’t any of you guys know this!”

My teacher yelled close to the top of her lungs. She was visibly frustrated none of her students knew the answer. She would stare at the smart students in anticipation they might just open their mouth.


My classmates and I weren’t getting it. Why was it such a struggle for us?

Trouble is, this wasn’t the first time the entire class couldn’t answer a question. It happened every day. And it’s all because of one missed opportunity by my teacher. An opportunity that, given the right tools, could have turned her classroom into a sea of raised hands.

What am I talking about?


Repetition – no matter how many times – is beneficial for many students. Remembering something you heard once, like someone’s name, is tough. That’s why, when you introduce yourself, you say “Nice to meet you , Allison” — in effect, repeating their name to help you remember it.

But, a lot of teachers make the same mistake. They say things once. Plus, they don’t repeat anything. Worst of all, students are struggling to retain that knowledge.

Saying things once is the curse of classroom death. Students can only write so fast. And if they don’t retain the rest of your sentence, they end up with an incomplete thought in their notes. A nightmare when they’re reviewing for an upcoming quiz or test. (At least it was for me)

Why is repetition so important?

You wouldn’t think repetition would have such a profound effect on your students. But, it does. Just look at this chain reaction:

1. Repetition leads to retention

It’s tough for students to remember something they’ve only heard once. But, if you continue to do something, eventually it becomes a habit. Just like when you learn a new language — the best way to remember how to speak it is to become immersed in it – travel to a Spanish-speaking country for example. Repetition and reuse leads to retention of the material.

2. Retention leads to improved test scores

Once information is retained, and students are tested, they perform better on quizzes and tests. (Sidenote — have you heard about QuizBean? It’s a fun free quiz maker.) When students feel they’ve retained more information, they’re more confident with their performance. That not only boosts self-esteem, but makes an ‘A’ a whole heck of a lot more likely.

3. Improved test scores lead to happy students (and parents)

As I mentioned above, doing well on a quiz or a test makes students feel better about their performance in class. Plus, there’s another added benefit: pleased parents. The majority of parents like to keep an eye on their child’s grades. It makes sense. They want to know if Timmy needs more help in math or if Kayla is falling behind in english. Why? So they can help out and improve their grades. What parent wouldn’t want to see their child’s grade go from a C to a B?

What’s the lesson here? (No pun intended, by the way)

Teachers have got to work on repetition and better retention of course material. A great way to do that is by using an online quiz maker. By having pre-loaded quizzes ready to go with each unit, you instantly know if students are retaining your lessons.

QuizBean is 100% free – Get started by making a free quiz at

Photo courtesy of flickr.

Is There Room for Pen and Paper in an Edtech World?

pen and paperRemember the thick-lined paper you learned to write on? It had two solid lines and a dashed line so you could perfectly curve your “h” or make your “g” the same size as every other letter.

I still have that paper from grade school. While it collects dust underneath my bed, it’s time to reflect on the current state of writing in the classroom.

Times have changed. Paper is now a touchable screen. A pen has become your finger or a stylus. And they’re both here to stay. Does that mean pen and paper have lost their luster?

With edtech companies launching every week, one thing’s clear: they’re in a committed relationship with the screen. Whether it’s an ipad, smartphone, or other device, generation z (and most of generation y) are screen generations.

But does that mean pen and paper are no longer?

Fear not, writers. Your trusty pen and paper aren’t going anywhere. And here’s why:

1. You still need to take notes

Sure, your students can take notes on their laptops, but Facebook and Twitter are probably calling their names. And that means distraction. Taking notes in a notebook with a pen has no notification noises. Plus, you get your student’s full attention.

2. There’s nothing like crossing off an item on your to-do list

Do your students write to-do lists? I write one for my entire week (each day gets broken down). And there is nothing more satisfying than crossing off something on my to-do list. Yes, there are online apps to keep track of to-dos, but I find I don’t use them regularly enough. That’s why trusty pen and paper is here to stay.

3. Hand-written thank you notes rule text messages

Thank-you notes are a lost art. Not many students write them, much less think about why they’re thanking someone. Plus, why buy a thank you card when you can just shoot a text? Students, I beg of you, write more thank you notes.You’ll need pen and paper to make a strong connection.

4. Memorization is the key to learning concepts

It’s proven that writing something down is one of the best ways to remember something. When students write notes in their notebook, they subconsciously say it back to themselves, which helps reinforce their memory. And better memory means students do better on tests when they remember what they wrote down.

5. “Do you have a pen?”

My Dad has taught me a ton of life lessons. And one of those is to always carry a pen. Why? Because you never know when someone else is going to need one. Carrying a pen helps break the ice with students. Plus, students are seen as helpful to their classmates.

There you go! 5 examples where a pen and paper would come in handy. And for your students, they’ve got to learn to write sooner or later, right? Texting thumbs will only get them so far.

How edtech startups are doing away with the pen.

I find new edtech start-ups daily (and I work for one, too). They’re marketed as “perfect on ipad” or “works with any smartphone”. With so much screen time for students – from computers, to ipads, and mobile phones – I wonder what’s going to happen to pen and paper?

Are we all going to take verbal notes on Evernote or run classrooms using Edmodo? Quite possibly. But, there’s one big objection to the digital world created by edtech:

Are school districts going to pay for new technology?

Just look at the latest Staples ad. For just a few dollars, your students are set for the year. That’s cheap. But, there’s a lot more to outfitting a classroom than highlighters, binders, and poster paper: edtech is expensive.

Incorporating technology into tech-friendly classrooms can be expensive. You have to:

For many schools, transitioning to a new edtech solution can take up a good chunk of the annual budget. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for other learning tools or classroom supplies. Makes pencil and paper look pretty attractive, huh?

Pen and paper will live on in an edtech world. Would you like a pen to write that down?

What do you think? Are pen and paper dead?

Photo from flickr

37 Articles and Videos on How to Make Your Edtech Startup Successful

Here at QuizBean, we’re in the middle of two markets — corporate trainers and education. One of those is a lot easier to learn about than the other. (That would be Edtech if you haven’t quite read the title).

We’ve collected all kinds of link about the edtech industry and it’s fascinating impact on schools and startups across the nation.

I thought I’d save you the trouble and compile the resources I’ve found into a blog post for you. Happy reading — make sure to bookmark this page and add your own resources in the comments.

1. Edtech Business Models that Work

Whether your edtech startup is funded or not, this is a great overview of what has worked for several different companies in the bay area. Good food for thought if you’re struggling with your business model.

2. Edtech Handbook

The mecca of how to do it right with edtech startups. Find everything from customer development to financing and distribution. The guys behind this site have clearly done something right.

3. List of Upcoming Edtech Events

Sometimes the best way to get to know an industry is to attend an event. Fractus Learning is great at keeping us up to date about events happening in our area. We let them do it so we don’t have to!

4. Edtech Startups Have Great Products – Sales Not So Much

Without sales, well, you don’t have much. And selling to schools may be harder than selling ice to eskimos. The author tags along for a school visit in Brooklyn to see just how hard it is.

5. Bridging the Gap Between Teachers and the Edtech Industry

As is often the problem, teachers don’t have the buying power to pay for an application to re-shape their classroom. And it’s this buying power that’s going to keep an edtech company alive.

6. The Politics of Edtech

Oh – something else with politics! It seems all industries have it. This is a quick look into how money moves around in education and how top leaders get things done with the dough in their pocket.

7. Top Edtech Trends of 2012: The Business of Edtech

With a mix of politics from above, this article looks into the success and rapid expansion of the edtech industry in 2012.

8. Why VC’s Can’t Afford to Ignore Edtech Any Longer

Venture capital is often reserved for startups featured on TechCrunch or well, VentureBeat (the article is written on VB). But, this article lays out unique advantages to the edtech space – one of them being the virality of something great. Simply, teachers love to tell teachers what’s working for them.

9. Dissecting the Edtech Industry [VIDEO]

Michael Chasen, the founder and former CEO of Blackboard, talks about the problems edtech startups have getting into schools. And it seems it may be a few hundred years old.

10. Is Edtech in a Bubble?

An interesting look at the evolution of edtech. A little bit of the founder’s personal story is included, too.

11. How one edtech startup is selling to the impossible K-12 market (hint: it’s not by going bottom-up)

An interesting look into how Chalkable, a now venture-backed company, is making education sales work for them – and it’s not by getting teachers to buy in.

12. A Boom Time for Education Startups

Another great article about investment in education and how many startups are actually seeing success because they’re starting to get funding.

13. Positioning Your Company for Edtech Platform Leadership

How to develop a platform – not just a fun web application for edtech. A blue-print on how to dominate the education space.

14. The Tech-Driven Classroom is Here, but Grades are Mixed

Maybe edtech isn’t a great industry. This Forbes contributor weighs in with their opinion and others. Plus he uses studies to back up his research.

15. Dirty Sexy Edtech

Quick blog to read about, quite simply, the world of edtech. They’re trying to make the argument that more money flowing into the industry is actually creating more problems.

16. The Edtech Entrepreneur’s Lab

While this blog is a few years old, the author writes about edtech events in the bay area, including interviews with prominent people in the space.

17. Top Tips for Edtech Entrepreneurs

Troy Wheeler used to work for the Department of Education for the state of Idaho. It’s a short post about what he think will help edtech entrepreneurs succeed.

18. Get Schooled on Edtech with LearnSprout

Great interview with the founder of LearnSprout about edtech and how he’s been able to build his company in such a crowded space.

19. TransformingEDU Conference

While this isn’t a blog, the TransformingEDU conference looks to be an exciting event for 2014. At the very least, it’s a place to interact with teachers and show off your product.

20. As the Edtech Market Grows, What Voice to Educators Have?

A positive outlook on the important role educators play in bringing more edtech solutions into the classroom. The author argues we need more edtech and more builders – even if that means people supporting from the sidelines.

21. Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Education

Want to take your edtech app to the next level? Many times that requires funding from a venture capital firm. This is part two of a funding discussion written by an edtech accelerator.

22. To Teach or to Edtech

A short piece on the importance of actually being a teacher before you enter the edtech world. It helps shape your view and gives you a perspective non-teacher edtech founders will never have.

23. How to Make it in the Edtech Startup Sector

Just like the article above mentions — you need to know your customer. Among other points is this post, edtech founders agree: “you have to know exactly who your customer is and what they want.”

24. Defining Success in Edtech

From an edtech entrepreneur who references another article on this list (#36) and reflects on what he believe is success for his startup.

25. 3 Reasons There will be No Lifeboats in Edtech

As the title states, there are three reasons edtech startups may be walking on a bed of nails – and you have to be careful.

26. Why One Charter School System Founded an Edtech Startup

Many successful businesses are launched when the founders are solving their own problem. In this charter school’s case they had nothing to assess performance. So, what did they do? They build their own solution. Great story here.

27. 10 Startup Lessons From Kaplan’s EdTech Accelerator Demo Day

This is one of my favorite articles on the list. While the lessons apply to pretty much any business, they make you think about your business model, your pitch, and what the heck you’re doing.

28. Engaging Educators in Your Edtech Startup [SLIDESHOW]

Awesome SlideShare presentation on how to get your web application in front of teachers, gain early adopters, and use social media to build your company’s foundation.

29. Community Buy-In: How to Build a Nest for Your Fragile Startup

Have you been programming in a dark hole without talking to customers? If you answered yes, you might be in trouble. This articles gives great advice on how to get a team together to support you and get honest feedback – from mentors, teachers, and schools.

30. A Role for Teachers in Every Edtech Startup

How can teachers help your startup? Turns out there’s a lot of ways. And it’s even more reason to have a team of teachers behind your startup. Plus, they ooze credibility!

31. The Do’s and Dont’s of Pitching Technology to Schools

Short article on the three questions you need to answer when you pitch schools on your edtech startup. They’re also questions you should answer before you write a single line of code.

32. 5 Tips for Engaging Educators to Accelerate Growth

Just getting started talking to teachers? This article (from a site full of great resources) has easy-to-implement tips on how to get on the teacher’s good side.

33. How Edtech Companies Will Make (and lose) a Few Fortunes

Selling to school districts is almost impossible. Plus, according to this article, it doesn’t scale. The author (CEO of a Testive, an online testing startup) offers a couple pointers on how to make sales work for your startup.

34. Why Education Startups Do Not Succeed

The author gives an incredibly detailed perspective as to why education companies fail. Data, graphs, and case studies galore. But, there’s a glimmer of hope at the end.

35. Edtech Sales and What all Startups Need to Know

The title says it all, here. You do need to know everything in this post. It’ll help you define your market, build in value, and create a better company.

36. Are Most Edtech Startups Doomed to Fail?

Say it ain’t so! After a quick read, this quote resonated with me the most: “Successful edtech products will draw a clear line between product adoption and improved student outcomes and empower teachers to succeed with the product before it is adopted by their institutions.”

37. Beware the $5/month business

While this final article isn’t education related, it speaks to the challenge many edtech startups have: teachers have limited funds. This often means companies have to under-value products to generate revenue. It’s an interesting read for any software-as-a-service provider.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. That’s because it’s missing your contributions. Let us know what you’ve found helpful in your edtech journey. We’d love to add it to this list.