Q&A with Monica Brady-Myerov, Founder and CEO of Listen Edition

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

EdTech Times is running a series of Q&As this week on the companies of LearnLaunchX, which has their first public Demo Day today, Thursday, October 3rd at LearnLaunch.org’s October Meetup in Boston. Companies will present for 5 minutes and then followed up by 5 minutes of Q&A.  This is a great opportunity for local ed-tech aficionados, educators, and entrepreneurs to come meet the companies of LearnLaunchX’s first cohort.

More on these companies at their investor demo day, September 18th:

Monica Brady-Myerov, Founder and CEO of Listen Edition

Monica Brady-Myerov, Founder and CEO of Listen Edition

Company at a Glance:Website:  www.ListenEdition.com                              

Founders: Monica Brady-Myerov

Founded: January 2013

Category: Content

Product stage: Market

Facebook: Listen Edition

LinkedIn company page: http://www.linkedin.com/company/3029333?trk=prof-exp-company-name

Company twitter: @ListenEdition

Other social media: http://www.pinterest.com/listenedition/

ETT: What’s your elevator pitch?

MBM: Your Mom always told you to listen….your boss expects you to listen.  So it’s not surprising that educators have added listening to the new Common Core standards adopted by 46 states.

We are bringing compelling up-to-date stories out of the public radio system and other sources to engage students.  Listen Edition builds proprietary curriculum around the stories, which include objectives, lesson plans and assessment tools all linked to states standards as well.  In the future we will engage students with tools to design and record great stories and help teachers improve methods for teaching a true 21st century skill—listening.

How to Use from Listen Edition on Vimeo.

ETT: What is your company’s core value proposition? What problem are you solving?      

MBM: We are engaging students through listening.   Real world public radio stories make subject areas come alive for students.  In addition, we are solving the problem that the Common Core now mandates the teaching and testing of listening.   There are few tools that help a teacher focus on building critical listening skills.  Listen Edition helps students become better critical listeners.

ETT: Why did you get into this? What drove you to start this?       

MBM: I spent my career as a public radio reporter.  I knew how much adults learn everyday from public radio because they would often tell me.  As my children got older I saw how much they learned as well, just by listening.  They were engaged by the stories.  I thought, why aren’t teachers using this in the classroom?   I asked my daughters’ teachers and learned it was too time consuming and difficult to find the right stories and build lessons around them.  I thought:  I want my daughters to learn from public radio in their school, so I created Listen Edition so that any teacher, anywhere can teach using a public radio story.

ETT: What is the biggest need for your startup? 

MBM: We are growing quickly so our biggest need now is funding so that we can build a larger team to increase content and create more sales channels.

ETT: What should we expect to see from you in the next twelve months?

MBM: Right now we are focused on middle school science and social studies content.  In the next year we will grow our subject areas to cover more content and write curriculum for high school students.  We are also developing an on online listening assessment tool so that teachers using Listen Edition can assess their students’ critical listening skills as part of the program.  By next year we will introduce the Listen Edition Studio, a project based tool that guides teachers on how to help students write, record and edit their own “public radio-style” stories. 

ETT: Which three startups/educators/entrepreneurs do you follow and find interesting?              

MBM: I think Socrative.com is very cool.  Real time assessment is so valuable.  That’s why Listen Edition has added pre-made Socrative quizzes to almost all of our content.  Also I love Benjamin Berte’s mellow approach to the crazy life of an entrepreneur!

I follow StudySync because they are a new way to teach Common Core literacy skills. They meet students where they are – on their devices watching exciting videos.  And they are using some Listen Edition content because they believe in the importance of listening!  Founder and CEO Robert Romano is a visionary in how to engage kids.

I use Balefire Labs at home because I have two middle school students who are addicted to the iPad.  As a parent, I am constantly questioning whether the apps they are using have any educational value.  With Balefire Labs, now I know!

ETT: If you could provide students nationwide with one education technology product, what would it be?           

MBM: Besides Listen Edition… maybe it would be a fitbit for health and nutrition education.  We have an obesity problem in this country so maybe if kids had a better idea of their exercise level and calorie intake, we could solve the problem.

ETT: What do you think are the biggest obstacles in adopting your product/service in the education space?

MBM: The sales channel into schools is long and slow.  I wish that as schools speed forward adopting computers and iPads in the classroom that they give teachers a budget to buy cool new edtech products like Listen Edition!

Thanks to Monica for checking in with us at ETT about her product!  Find out more about Listen Edition at their website:

listeneditionsmall

LearnLaunchX’s Cohort Debuts at Inaugural Demo Day

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

Yesterday, seven startups from the LearnLaunchX accelerator made their mark on the education technology community at their inaugural demo day.  Held at the nearly-completed District Hall at the center of Boston’s Innovation District, the startup companies spoke to a packed house of investors, educators, and other ed-tech stakeholders, including Massachusetts’ Governor Deval Patrick, who stopped by to meet the companies individually.

The LearnLaunchX founders pose together for a picture with Governor Deval Patrick.  From L to R: Mark Miller, Eileen Rudden, Jean Hammond, Governor Patrick, Hakan Satiroglu, Vinit Nijhawan

The LearnLaunchX founders pose together for a picture with Governor Deval Patrick. From L to R: Mark Miller, Eileen Rudden, Jean Hammond, Governor Patrick, Hakan Satiroglu, Vinit Nijhawan

The founders at LearnLaunchX were excited about the crowd that gathered to see these companies’ debut.  Founder Eileen Rudden was “pleased to see such broad support from the investment community for emerging ed tech companies.”

Founder Mark Miller invoked Boston’s roots in education, noting that “if there is anything that Boston should lead the way on it is the education and publishing companies of the future.”

“After a few years of planning for the creation of LearnLaunchX, we now see the progress of the first cohort of learning companies,” added Miller.  “This event draws on the investor community in Boston and beyond to support and retain ed tech talent and innovation in Boston.”

Other founders praised the hard work that the companies have put in during their months at the accelerator.  Founder Hakan Satiroglu said, “We are very excited to have had the opportunity to work with such talented entrepreneurs to build our ecosystem together.”

Founder Jean Hammond spoke about the collaboration at LearnLaunchX, saying, “Working hand-in-hand with ed-tech startups everyday gives us here at LearnLaunchX a perfect view to watch the growth and evolution of the education field. We think that innovation such as we see in these companies offers a once in a generation opportunity to revolutionize the way that people learn and make education more effective and available. ”

Monica Brady-Myerov of Listen Edition describes her product to Governor Deval Patrick

Monica Brady-Myerov of Listen Edition describes her product to Governor Deval Patrick

Governor Patrick’s attendance created a palpable buzz at the event, with many eager people awaiting a turn to greet the governor. The LearnLaunchX companies each connected with Governor Patrick at their tables, getting an opportunity to speak with him personally and answer his questions about their products and their progress.  The governor also sat in the main room to catch the pitch for Monica Brady-Myerov’s Listen Edition, a company that curates and creates lesson plans from public radio stories.

LearnLaunchX’s Director of Operations Asad Butt, was appreciative of the individual conversations that Patrick had with the companies, saying, “we were thrilled that the governor was not only able to attend our event but also spent quality time with each of our companies.”

To hear more about the companies, check out this article, and also stay tuned for new Q&As.

To hear from Demo Day attendees, check out this article.

To get a better look, check out our picture gallery.  (Click on an individual photo to enlarge and open the gallery.)

MA Governor Deval Patrick to Attend LearnLaunchX Demo Day, September 18

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

LLX_Logo_NoShadow

Earlier this month, Boston-based ed-tech accelerator, LearnLaunchX, announced their inaugural demo day to be held on September 18th.  At tomorrow’s event, Massachusetts’ Governor Deval Patrick will join investors, entrepreneurs and educators in a first look at the seven early stage companies that make up LearnLaunchX’s first cohort.

LearnLaunchX’s website talks about Patrick’s record for supporting innovation, saying:

“Investing in innovation to create jobs and opportunity in the state has been a key part of [Governor] Patrick’s growth strategy. By making meaningful, targeted investments in education, innovation and infrastructure, the state has seen job numbers return to pre-recession levels, and unemployment remain below the national average. These investments, especially in the innovation sector, have positioned Massachusetts as a global leader in the life sciences, biotech, bio pharmaceuticals and IT, as a national leader in clean energy and Massachusetts students lead the nation in achievement.”

Monica Brady-Myerov, founder of Listen Edition and one of the LearnLaunchX cohort members slated to pitch tomorrow, is excited to demo her product to the governor. “This really shows his commitment to support ed tech in the state, and his overall committment to education,” says Brady-Myerov.

Companies in LearnLaunchX received $18,000 in seed funding, an intensive three month mentoring program which began in June, and office space for six months.  The seven companies were chosen for their exceptional potential to make education more effective, impactful, accessible and affordable across the education continuum.

The following companies are lined up for tomorrow’s demo day at District Hall in the Innovation District on Boston’s waterfront:

  • Listen Edition: Public radio stories, lesson plans and activities that enliven STEM and social studies curriculum, foster critical thinking and listening skills, and align with Common Core State Standards (CCSS), led by respected public radio reporter Monica Brady-Myerov.
  • Gradeable: A new assessment and feedback tool that helps teachers give students smarter, faster feedback and reduces their overall workload. Developed by a team from MIT and Harvard, it uses optical character recognition to handle paper inputs in both written answer and multiple choices formats, and provides simple, visually appealing reports.
  • Cognii: Using powerful natural language processing technology, Cognii enables automatic assessment of students’ essay answers. Cognii helps learning service providers create personalized and engaging learning environments which can measure students’ content mastery.
  • Empow Studios: Bringing technology, arts, and learning together, Empow Studios helps young learners discover and build talents that will prepare them to navigate, master, and thrive in their future careers and lives. Empow Studios programs teach exciting robotics, video game design, animation, and other creative skills for the 21st century to kids 4 through 15 years old through after-school, holiday, and summer programs. Opening in Lexington Town Center this fall, the company is poised to grow to new communities and regions through franchising.
  • Countdown: A planning tool for creating Common Core-aligned instruction that allows teachers and districts to map standards by day across the school year, link curricular resources, share calendars, manage changes and create a record of what is taught. Countdown improves pacing, increases the effectiveness of co-teaching and supports standards-based teaching and learning.
  • EduCanon: Powerful, easy-to-use video tools for teachers to create highly engaging and interactive video instruction. EduCanon adds formative assessments into videos, and empowers teachers to quickly identify and track students’ grasp of concepts. Created by teachers, for teachers.
  • Intellify Learning: Provides a standards-based instrumentation framework for online course developers and schools, curriculum and learning designers, and Ed tech application developers. Led by LearnLaunchX entrepreneur-in-residence Chris Vento, former CTO of Blackboard, WebCT and Cengage, Intellify’s cloud-delivered data and analytics drive the progressive refinement of on-line learning experiences.

Read the press release from LearnLaunchX.

EdTech Times will be there covering tomorrow’s demo day event and will be featuring the companies in the cohort.

EdTech Accelerator LearnLaunchX Announces Inaugural Demo Day, September 18

This article is cross-posted from edtechtimes.com, where I currently serve as editor-in-chief.

LLX_Logo_NoShadowBoston-based ed tech accelerator LearnLaunchX has announced their inaugural Demo Day, to be held on Wednesday, September 18, 2013.  The first cohort of LearnLaunchX companies are set to pitch their companies to investors and members of the ed tech community—the culmination of 3 months of formal mentorship  and collaboration through the accelerator program.

LearnLaunchX co-founder Jean Hammond describes Demo Day as a new beginning rather than an ending.  “On Demo Day our graduates will get to explain to a room full of potential investors why they have unique and exciting products to support teachers, help administrators, and enable parents all in the support of better learning,” says Hammond.  “And the investment crowd will get to be in on the dawning of a new era … one in which the power of innovation is unleashed on the learning and education industries.”

LearnLaunchX’s Demo Day is being held in Boston’s District Hall, a new building in Boston’s Innovation District that serves as part social hub, part meeting and event space for Boston’s startup community.

Interested investors and edtech community members should email Operations Director Asad Butt for more information.