Education Technology Pioneers Announced as Finalists for SIIA Innovation Incubator Program

The Education Division of SIIA announces finalists, and an alternate, for its Innovation Incubator Program. The program will be held during the annual Education Business Forum, Dec. 9-10, at the McGraw Hill Conference Center in New York City. The finalists will feature their products during the event, and awards will be presented to the Most Innovative and Most Likely to Succeed based on votes of conference attendees. The Educator’s Choice Award and Faculty Choice Award will also be presented based on votes from K-20 educators and administrators around the world. SIIA will also award prizes from program partners.

The SIIA Innovation Incubator Program identifies and supports entrepreneurs in their development and distribution of innovative learning technologies. The program began in 2006 and has provided support for dozens of successful products and companies in their efforts to improve education through the use of software, digital content, and related technologies. The program is open to applicants from academic and non-profit institutions, pre-revenue and early-stage companies, as well as established companies with newly developed technologies.

Innovation Incubator Program finalists were selected from the applicant pool based on key selection criteria, including:

  • Education focus and end user impact / Market need for the innovation
  • Representation of K-12/Postsecondary market levels
  • Level of originality and innovation

All Innovation Incubator finalists will present during the Business Profiles Presentations on Dec. 9, which is immediately followed by the Innovation Showcase & Networking Reception where they will be available for one-on-one product demonstrations and in-depth discussions.

Innovation Incubator Program participants are:

ApplicantLab, ApplicantLab
The ApplicantLab provides an interactive, affordable, step-by-step program that guides college & graduate school applicants through the essay, letter of recommendation, and interview process.

Cogent Education, Interactive Case Studies
Cogent Education’s Interactive Cases allow students to act like scientists and solve real world problems.  Teachers can see in real-time how their students are progressing, identify pain points, and can intervene immediately.

Continuum Education, Apropos Collaborative Learning Activity
Apropos turns the Internet into a collaborative learning space. Seamlessly blending technology into existing classroom lessons, Apropos enables learners to apply 21st Century Skills in problem-based activities that inform assignments, augment lesson plans and simplify online inquiry.

Edukey Education, Class Charts
Class Charts combines seating charts with a point based behavior management system and provides teachers & school administrators with AI driven behavior analytics.

Gradeable, Gradeable Workflow
Teachers upload questions into a Gradeable template, tag them with common core or custom standards, print the QR coded forms, and hand out to students before the completed assessments are scanned back into the platform with the Gradeable mobile app or a printer/scanner. These digital assessments are stored by classroom and graded automatically by Gradeable or efficiently by the teacher on a tablet or computer. Finally the quantitative (grades) and qualitative (comments) feedback is analyzed to empower teachers with targeted insights for precise instruction.

Listen Current, Listen Current
Listen Current brings authentic voices and engaging non-fiction stories to the classroom. We curate the best of public radio to keep teaching connected to the real world and build student listening skills at the same time.

MathCloud, MathCloud
Each student receives a personalized online learning experience using the world’s first neural adaptive learning platform.  Students can master math topics, get better grades, and grow in confidence, and both teachers and parents can track learning progress, academic growth, and achievement.

Mobile Education Store, Crack The Books
Crack the Books is a digital interactive book series designed to foster reading comprehension and student engagement through adjustable reading levels and hundreds of high interest interactive elements.

Second Avenue Learning, TARGETS
TARGETS includes two games: a physical card game, and a digital augmented reality game that takes chemistry concepts and brings them to life in a 3D world where students can solve authentic science problems.

Teachley, Teachley Analytics
Teachley Analytics offers districts a personalized learning solution to support the needs of each student. We analyze gameplay data from apps to help teachers track performance, differentiate instruction and target intervention.


Triumph Learning, Waggle
Waggle is a seamless, all-in-one solution with Personalized Smart Practice.  With Knewton’s adaptive learning recommendation engine, Waggle provides true personalization, meeting students where they are and promoting productive struggle.

For more information about the Education Business Forum, visit contact Christopher Dyer at

Karen BillingsKaren Billings is Vice President for the Education Division at SIIA. Follow the SIIA Education Team on Twitter at @SIIAEducation

SIIA to Hold Education Business Forum Dec 9-10 in New York

SIIA today announced that it will hold the Education Business Forum (EBF), the leading business and finance conference for the K-12 and postsecondary education technology markets, Dec. 9-10 at McGraw-Hill Conference Center in New York City.

The annual conference will bring together senior management teams of education software companies, platform technology firms, financial analysts, solution providers and distributors, publishers, financial analysts, private equity firms, and venture capitalists. Participants will discuss new business models and how to leverage shifts in the digital learning space, in addition to sharing knowledge about new markets, growth in financial investment, and new paths to revenue.

For the first time, the conference starts earlier for Game-Changing Market Opportunity sessions.  These new sessions are designed to facilitate lively, strategic discussion among participants. Industry experts will start the session with an overview, share crucial market information, and then guide a discussion and answer questions.

Game-Changing Market Opportunities:

  • Leveraging the Special Ed Market with Products You Already Have
  • Trends in the Higher Ed Space
  • Latest Info on Government Funding
  • Development Strategies for a Mobile and Global World
  • How Customers are Finding and Purchasing Ed Tech Products
  • Leveraging Social Media to Stay Competitive

Sea Changes:

  • How and Where Do We Compete in a Growing Global Market?
  • Key Transformations in the Education Sector that can be Opportunities or Challenges!
  • Developing for the Growing Mobile Technology and Especially… the Mobile Customer

Interactive Sessions that focus on Customers, Providers and Funding:

  • Facing Student Data Security and Privacy Issues
  • Budgeting Strategies Before – and After – the Investment
  • Growing from Innovator to a Successful Company
  • Using Technical Standards to Grow Your Business
  • Finding Global Customers
  • Growing Through Partnerships and Acquisitions
  • Growing Through Effective Marketing Strategies and Tactics

The Education Business Forum will also feature:

  • Innovation IncubatorSIIA’s Innovation Incubator program identifies and supports entrepreneurs in the development and distribution of innovative learning technologies. The program began in 2006, and has provided mentorship for dozens of successful products and companies in their efforts to improve education through the use of software, digital content, and related technologies.
  • One-to-One Business ConnectionsOne-to-One Business Connections meetings will be scheduled during designated times throughout the conference by SIIA staff, with the support of its partner Educational Systemics. SIIA will select companies to meet with participants based on the preferences they described in their respective surveys. These fast-paced exchanges will help pave the way for increased capital, revenue, and strategic alliances between participants.

WHO: Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)
WHAT: Education Business Forum #2014EBF
WHEN: Dec. 9-10, 2014
WHERE: The McGraw-Hill Conference Center, New York City

For a complete schedule of events, visit:

Karen BillingsKaren Billings is Vice President for the Education Division at SIIA. Follow the SIIA Education Team on Twitter at @SIIAEducation

SIIA Seeks Education Technology Innovators for Incubator Program

The Education Division of SIIA is accepting applicants for its Innovation Incubator program. Selected developers of promising technologies in the K-12 and postsecondary markets will be invited to participate in the SIIA Innovation Incubator program during the 14th annual SIIA Education Business Forum, December 9-10, at McGraw-Hill Conference Center in New York. The deadline to apply is September 26.

The SIIA Innovation Incubator program identifies and supports entrepreneurs in the development and launch of innovative learning technologies. The program began in 2006, and has helped dozens of companies enrich education through the use of software, digital content and related technologies. The Innovation Incubator program employs a peer-review process to identify the most promising digital education products. Successful industry leaders and peers also provide one-on-one mentorship before, during, and after the Forum to support the growth and success of identified innovators.

All education technology companies with innovations are encouraged to apply – from start-ups to established companies. A panel of SIIA member judges, consisting of prominent education technology industry professionals, will review and score each innovation, and collective scores will determine finalists and an alternate. Scores will be calculated based on:

  • True innovation
  • Market need/ Solving a problem in education
  • Ability to be successful

Finalists will be asked to give webinar presentations to educators and administrators nationwide for the Educators’ Choice and Faculty Choice Awards. Finalists will also present their products in person for Education Business Forum attendees. An additional winner and one runner-up will be chosen for the “Most Innovative” and “Most Likely to Succeed” categories based on the scores submitted by Forum attendees.

For more information about the Innovation Incubator program, or to apply, go to or contact Karen Billings at


Karen BillingsKaren Billings is Vice President for the Education Division at SIIA. Follow the SIIA Education Team on Twitter at @SIIAEducation

SIIA at ISTE 2014

Mark, Lindsay, and I were busy during the recent ISTE conference in Atlanta, Georgia! Our time was spent mPearson Exhibit halleeting with members, finding new members, promoting our reports, and learning about new and exciting trends in the Ed Tech Market.

The exhibit hall was packed with all sorts of companies, many of whom received a CODiEs sign to show that they were a finalist or a winner of the 2014 cycle. The exhibit hall was huge and took a team of myself and Lindsay Harman to get all of the signs out to our winners and finalists who represented a sizeable portion of the exhibitors present.

At our press conference on Sunday, the latest Vision K-20 report was released to a great turnout of industry professionals and reporters. The report was presented by Sue Cosuellins of CollinsConsults who help drive the development of the Vision K-20 initiative and Susan Meell of MMS Education who wrote the latest report. The crowd was highly responsive and asked lots of questions about the Vision K-20 report and the sneak peek findings from our upcoming testing and assessment report. John Richards of CS4Ed presented a sneak preview of a new qualitative report on testing and assessment. This report is a follow up to findings in last year’s K-12 Market Survey Report that showed a big increase in testing and assessment dollars in the market.

Most of the interviews we did were on video this year. We highlighted our work at ISTE with the help of C Blohm & Associates and did a summary interview with TouchCast. In between, there were more videos and phone interviews to further explain and clarify all of the results.

We co-sponsored the Ed tech start up pavilion and Pitch Fest competition, (both on the show floor) for the second year, which was very large and noisy. I spent much of Sunday judging the preliminary competition, then the finals early Monday morning. SIIA wants to congratulate the winners K and flexibleof this year’s competition. We were able to speak with all of the Pitch Fest competitors and learn about their companies and how they could leverage SIIA benefits.

Our Member Breakfast and Feedback Forum on Tuesday morning was also a rousing success – even for 7:00 am in the morning. The event was co-hosted with COSN and the Winter Group and drew 50 members who were able to learn from 10 educators who participated in the focus group. The topic at hand was apps in schools and educators from around the country discussed the challenges of using them in the classroom and beyond. We ended the forum by singing Happy Birthday to Charlene Blohm.

ISTE 2014 had both high registration numbers and energetic attendees. We hope to be at ISTE 2015 for another great conference and expect to see even more SIIA member companies there.


Karen BillingsKaren Billings is Vice President for the Education Division at SIIA. Follow the SIIA Education Team on Twitter at @SIIAEducation

SIIA Releases 2014 Vision K-20 Survey Report

SIIA releases the 2014 Vision K-20 Survey Report, its seventh annual national survey measuring U.S. educational institutions’ self-reported progress toward building a framework that embraces technology and e-learning. The findings were presented at a press event during the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference. The report suggests that K-20 education institutions are striving for more digital educational goals, which are increasingly reached through Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.

Central findings from this year’s report include:

  • Respondents expect an increase in the use of BYOD technology.
  • Both the current and ideal level of technology integration has shown a directional increase for K-12 and postsecondary institutions, compared to 2013.
  • There is a need for increased technology integration in K-20 education.
  • Educators recognize that there is a large gap between current and ideal levels of implementation, which they aspire to fill.
  • Only 40 percent of K-12 education institutions feel prepared for upcoming online assessments.

The survey, which transitioned to a seven-point benchmarking scale this year, was distributed to nearly 1,000 educators and administrators with the help of many partner organizations – being the most prolific recruiter. SIIA also recognizes its lead partner, MMS Education, for its work on the Vision K-20 Survey analysis and report.

To view the Executive Summary of the 2014 Vision K-20 Survey Report, visit

To download the full report, visit

For more information on the 2014 Vision K-20 Survey results, contact


Karen BillingsKaren Billings is Vice President for the Education Division at SIIA. Follow the SIIA Education Team on Twitter at @SIIAEducation

SIIA Announces Innovation Incubator Award Winners

The Education Division of SIIA showcased some of the leading growth companies in the education technology market, and recognized the best among them as part of the Innovation Incubator program at the 13th annual Education Business Forum, held Dec. 10-11 at the McGraw Hill Conference Center in New York.

Award Winners:


The dynamism of this year’s Innovation Incubator winners demonstrates the vibrancy of the ed tech industry. Without a doubt, all of the Innovation Incubator participants will continue to have a lasting impact on the industry.

More than 75 applicants were assessed for the Innovation Incubator program on a broad range of criteria, including the education focus, end-user impact, market need for the innovation, representation of K-12/postsecondary market levels, and the level of originality and innovation. Ten participants and one alternate were selected for the program, and ten were elected as finalists in the program.

Other finalists include:

SIIA’s Innovation Incubator program identifies and supports entrepreneurs in their development and distribution of innovative learning technologies. The program began in 2006 and has provided incubation for dozens of successful products and companies in their efforts to improve education through the use of software, digital content, and related technologies.

The Education Business Forum is the industry conference for the K‐12 and postsecondary education technology marketplace. For more information regarding the event, visit 

Karen BillingsKaren Billings is Vice President for the Education Division at SIIA. Follow the SIIA Education Team on Twitter at @SIIAEducation

Technology-Enhanced Instruction and Competition – Two Emerging Trends – Can Help Stem Decline in Foreign Language Instruction

Public school expenditures on world language instruction are on the decline. However, America’s need for a national workforce with foreign language skills is on the increase. “It’s not that kids have to learn a language because the U.S. is losing supremacy,” said Jane Swift, CEO of Middlebury Interactive (a world language instruction provider). “On the contrary, learning a language will help the U.S. sustain its leadership position.”

On the occasion of Swift’s upcoming session, “Emerging Development Trends,” at the SIIA Education Business Forum, we discussed the challenges facing world language instruction and how those challenges can be overcome by trends in the education landscape.

I asked her how well the US is preparing students with the language skills and cultural understanding needed to compete in the global marketplace. “Our intentions are good,” said Swift, “but there is not the needed funding to execute on them. Compare public school expenditures between 1997 and 2008.  In 1997, thirty-one percent of elementary schools were offering language courses. Now, only 25 percent do; at middle schools that number has dropped from 75 percent to 58 percent.”

Swift attributes this decline to schools’ need to address Common Core standards as well as widespread budget constraints.

Can technology-enhanced instruction help?  According to Swift, “digital content and solutions help schools to be more flexible. Whereas before they struggled to find and afford qualified teachers in languages—both who have the ability to speak fluently and be certified to teach that language, now we’re seeing growth in blended learning—where schools can use their scarce budgets better.”  For instance, students can work on a computer several days a week learning the target language, then study with a travelling instructor once a week.  “This way,” Swift explains, “school districts can expend the impact of one high-quality teacher across schools and grades.  We also see schools that use our virtual teachers, especially in uncommon languages.”

But before technology solutions can live up to this ideal, schools need to address their widespread lack of technology readiness.  “Technology readiness has been a naïve approach in some schools—buy a bunch of iPads and we’re ready.  The hardware devices and tech support at schools still have a long way to go,” noted Swift.  While the focus on Common Core may siphon attention and budget away from foreign language instruction, it is also paving the way for greater technology readiness.  As Swift observed, “The trend in schools to require electronic assessment for Common Core is going to make their ecosystem better prepared for embracing more technology solutions.”

Technology solutions also help to create the “immersion experience” that transforms language learning from rote vocabulary acquisition to true understanding of another culture. “Advances in audio and video have allowed language learning to become really engaging and to use authentic materials,” said Swift. Social media also plays a key role. “Research-proven pedagogy shows that you can’t speak language unless you know the culture. Connecting to other speakers and cultures through social media has also led to motivation in both students and teachers. “

Asked what else needs to happen to make globalization at the K-12 level a reality, Swift replied: “There needs to be a lot more public awareness of the opportunities students have when they do gain these cultural and language skills—in terms of wage differential.  Just like in STEM where folks have done a great job educating the public around the gains kids will get from STEM—such as career preparedness and for driving economic health here in the U.S.”  According to Swift, language education groups are starting to band together to talk about the advantages of language acquisition.

To drive the next revolution in education, not just in foreign language instruction, Swift discussed the need to institutionalize more cooperation between K-12 and Higher Ed, and for Higher Ed institutions to get to know the K-12 experience and provide schools with critical services. Some colleges already do this: Middlebury College formed a joint venture with K-12, Stanford ran a charter school in Palo Alto, and Johns Hopkins’ School of Education conducted research on K-12 providers and provided feedback on the efficacy of their solutions. Colleges can also partner with organizations that service K-12 schools.

What are other ways we can drive positive change for education?  I look forward to continuing the discussion at SIIA’s Education Business Forum.


Joana Jebsen is President of O’Donnell Learn, a strategic advisory firm with extensive market and product development capabilities. O’Donnell Learn has helped education companies design, build, and launch successful products for the past 23 years. Prior to O’Donnell, Joana held executive roles at HarperCollins Publishers and Questia and consulting roles at Thomson Learning Labs, now Cengage Learning, and Factiva. She sits on the Post-Secondary Board of the SIIA, and spent her formative years in German-speaking countries, where she developed a passion for languages and other cultures.

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