Technology isn’t just changing the way we interact with the world, it’s changing the way we learn about the world. No one knows that better than these five Austin companies rocking the education space. From helping high school students master the basics in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), teaching Texans to drive with an app to connecting students and their homework problems via facebook, these companies are making learning easier, fun and at your fingertips.
There’s a lot of data in school. B+ in calculus. A- in English lit. C+ in econ 101. But what about all the other data that’s fundamental to a student’s progress but perhaps not as visible? That’s where Civitas Learning comes in. They work with schools to collect data – often kept in different silos and thus inaccessible to decision makers – to help with a range of decisions.
Their mission is to help students learn better. They do that by developing predictive software to analyze student data. For example, the company helped one college by developing an app that students can use to gauge their progress through a major. If a student wants to switch majors, the app can show them how their classes will apply to the new major.
Another product is for teachers; with their real time dashboard, instructors can see how students are engaged in class and in their homework over the course of the semester. This can help professors intervene if a student suddenly starts lagging behind.
The company is relatively new to the space, but already has an impressive roster of colleges and universities signed on as clients.
While Aceable would tell people to keep off their phones when behind the wheel, that doesn’t stop the company from teaching customers how to drive with an app.
The Aceable app is the first of its kind – it allows Texan driving students to fulfill their drivers ed courses without stepping foot inside a classroom (of course, students still need to get behind the wheel and pass the driving test). Founder Blake Garrett’s mission is to energize topics students might typically find boring and to help students ace them (hence the name, Aceable). The Aceable driving app isn’t boring either, the team has found ways to make the vital information accessible and fun.
The app is limited to Texas – state’s must individually approve educational driving programs – but its likely Aceable’s foray into the app space will encourage others to join. There are already programs doing similar things online, but Aceable was the first to bring it to students in app form. Get ready for a line of copycats.
Querium spotted a problem. Countless jobs in STEM industries – the coveted and high paid ones – were going unfulfilled because American college graduates lacked the necessary skills. The problem is only expected to get worse over the next decade.
At the same time, Querium’s founders knew that up to 70 percent of college students were required to take remedial math and English courses – it was time spent away from their core focus. Even worse, only 16 percent of students lumped into the “remedial” group graduated from a four-year college.
From those sobering statistics, the Querium team built a program teenagers can use on their smart phones. After some basic assessments, students get a tailored program to help meet their needs in subjects like math. Lessons are presented in bite-sized videos, breaking down the fundamentals and giving numerous ways to learn each lesson (visual learners will like their charts, audio listeners will like the verbal explanations). It’s an easy way to learn and a great way to help struggling students catch up.
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The founders of hoot.me wanted to create a knowledge network, just how facebook made the social network and LinkedIn created an online professional network. It came from a late-night study session when one of the co-founders got stuck on a problem and knew there were other students on Facebook at that very moment dealing with the same issue. If only there was a way to know who else was working on that same assignment.
The company’s goal is to help academics and students interact and learn. Using facebook, their app allows students and study groups to interact. Students can ask each other questions, and if no one has the answer, they can easily connect to a tutor from the site. It’s an innovative way to connect students, teachers and paid tutors at any time, without having to schedule a study group in the library. And hey, students don’t even have to leave their dorm room or change out of their PJs to master calculus.
The SproutBeat iPad app has kids asking for homework. Music homework, that is. The SproutBeat team originally came up with a pen-and-paper way to better engage their students. They took the elements often considered boring – theory and technical information – and made it fun for young learners. But a pen and paper approach wasn’t cutting it in this tech savvy world, so the team developed an app based off their experience.
Targeted towards the teachers of young music lovers (or soon-to-be-music loves), the app helps students learn the basics and review more complex material. Teachers can choose from over 400 worksheets and games to review concepts with their students. Kids can easily draw their answers on the app, which the teacher can then print out or erase before the next student. It’s a way of engaging students with their favorite toy.
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