EdTechBridge was born out of the observation of many that there can be a cultural gap between entrepreneurs and educators, despite our shared goal of serving students with high-quality edtech. South by Southwest EDU (SXSWedu) started a few years ago, and many noted that it was an entrepreneur-heavy conference, where the teacher voice was missing. Over the past two years, that has certainly changed. I commend SXSWedu for their commitment to this concern.
Last year at SXSWedu, Katya Hott (@katyamuses) and I offered a "problem solving" session (a new format for SXSWedu). Our topic, "Bridging the Teacher-Entrepreneur Divide," was meant to spark a discussion that could continue after the conference ended. Hence, the birth of the #edtechbridge weekly Twitter chat and community. The mission of EdTechBridge is simple:
"to build an authentic community of edtech entrepreneurs (developers), teachers, researchers, and students with the goal of collaborating to create great edtech products that will ultimately benefit students and move education forward."
Our session wasn't the only one last year that addressed the idea of bridging this divide. Lindsey Own (@lindseyown) and Stephanie Sandifer (@ssandifer) are educators who teamed up with entrepreneurs Dion Lim (@dionlim), CEO of NextLesson, and Jay Goyal, CEO of Actively Learn, for their panel discussion "Win-Win! Strategies for EdTech / Educator Engagement." In their session, they looked at some common misconceptions and shared success stories. Other sessions focused on or at least touched upon the topic as well.
The community is approaching its first anniversary and continues to grow with our weekly chat. Every Wednesday evening from 7 to 8 p.m. EST, we hit Twitter with a different topic suggested by the participants. The chat is typically co-moderated by the participant who offered the topic suggestion. Our goal is to keep the focus on community and meeting the needs of the members. The chat is only an hour, but the relationships reach far beyond the weekly chat. That is the true intent. The goal is to bring people together and allow their common interests to take the relationships to the next level. We are continually reminded of collaborations that came about from the weekly discussions.
In addition to the chat, we have a blog presence and a community blog collection, #EdTechBridge: Collaboration at Its Finest, on Medium. Posts in the Medium collection touch on topics we will be discussing in the chats and feature how stakeholders are working together to guide the development process. Recent posts by Teacher Tabitha (@TeacherTabitha), Teacher Suzy (@teacher_suzy), Blue Appaloosa (@BlueAppaloosa), and Eoin Lenihan (@EoinLenihan) have helped start and continue discussions related to the chat.
During our first chat, Jerry (@cybrarman1) Blumengarten's comment really stood out...
Reflecting on almost a year of EdTechBridge, I'm quite proud that we continue to work toward realizing this sentiment. The community continues to grow, and members continue to share stories of the value behind the relationships they're establishing. As an educator, I find great value in forming these relationships, as they provide opportunities for me to shape the development of products. I’ve been able to involve my students in the process as well, and that's very exciting to see. Developers want and need this guidance, and educators and other stakeholders are excited to get involved and make an impact. We hope you'll join us during our Wednesday night chats at 7 p.m. EST.