Boston based edtech startup “BetterLesson”, which launched in 2008, has just secured a non-dilutive grant worth $3.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, bringing the total funding it’s raised so far to just over $6 million.
As any business development associate, chief revenue officer or chief technology officer familiar with educational technology will be aware, education startups usually take a good while to scale, formulate viable business models and generate sustainable revenues. That’s why the latest cash boost for BetterLesson is such a shot in the arm for the innovative firm, which plans to use the money to ramp up its eight-strong staff team and launch a unique new teacher-to-teacher learning project.
Technology to spread great teaching
Far from those science fiction fantasies of replacing teachers with technological substitutes, since its inception BetterLesson has been devoted to encouraging and supporting the best attributes of really great teachers. A robot might not notice when young Suzie is getting distracted and texting her boyfriend on her mobile, or surreptitiously Googling for beauty products in the middle of math.
But a good teacher will deftly manage the situation and may prevent it from arising in the first place by engaging students’ interest and curiosity.
The new project is based around the common core curriculum, but that’s just the starting point. Critical though the curriculum is, the company knows that good teaching involves much more.
The project focuses on how to get that curriculum across to students most effectively, offering teachers classroom management strategies and instructional methods. And the beauty is that this guidance is drawn from classroom teachers themselves, who can share their experience of what works best with other teachers via BetterLesson’s new project.
Real expertise from real teachers
The startup will gather knowledge from active classroom teachers, not self-appointed education experts who’ve actually been nowhere near a classroom for a couple of decades. The project will reward its “Master Teachers” for their efforts in sharing their experience and knowledge — and it’s already hit the ground running, offering a math focus for grades 6 – 12.
By equipping teachers with practical technology to enhance their talents and skills, BetterLesson looks set to improve student education significantly. The firm’s product manager must be smiling jubilantly right now.