Using CrunchBase, I took a look at $5.5 billion invested in 450 edtech companies over the last three years. I’ve highlighted those in this landscape that exhibit the qualities of an amazing company: a great team, an amazing product and the potential for a huge impact. READ MORE: Gamification, personalization and continued education are trending in edtech | TechCrunch
It began as an audacious side project. Three dads and an uncle got together to make a personalized book for children. The Little Boy/Girl Who Lost His/Her Name, in which any child’s name, thanks to some nifty algorithms, dictates the plot turns, became a surprise hit. It was the bestselling picture book in the U.K. last year. This week, it topped a million copies sold worldwide (to actual customers, mind you, not retailers).
How do you follow up that sort of debut? Lost My Name, the London startup that grew out of the project—part tech company, part book publisher, and backed by Google Ventures and others—just launched its second personalized tale, The Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home. READ MORE: Is This The Most Technologically Advanced Book Ever Published? | FastCompany
In four small schools scattered across San Francisco, a data experiment is under way. That is where AltSchool is testing how technology can help teachers maximize their students’ learning. Founded two years ago by Max Ventilla, a data expert and former head of personalization at Google, AltSchool runs schools filled with data-gathering technology.
Information is captured from the moment each student arrives at school and checks in on an attendance app. For part of the day, students work independently, using iPads and Chromebooks, on “playlists” of activities that teachers have selected to match their personal goals. Data about each student’s progress is captured for teachers’ later review. Classrooms are recorded, and teachers can flag important moments by pressing a button, as you might TiVo your favorite television show.
The idea is that all the data from this network of schools will be woven into a smart centralized operating system that teachers will be able to use to design effective and personalized instruction. There is even a recommendation engine built in. READ MORE: Educating Data | MIT Technology Review.
Depending how you look at it, the Lost My Name team has either created one artful book or 53,849. The Little Boy/Girl Who Lost His/Her Name, the top-selling picture book in the U.K. last year, is personalized for each recipient. The child’s name doesn’t simply get mentioned a few times—an easy enough publishing gimmick. Rather, the story itself changes; different characters appear for each name. In fulfilling orders for 53,849 children’s names so far, the company has created that many stories—and books.
The technology required for that degree of customization and print-on-demand capability is significant. “There are tens of thousands of lines of code behind every book we deliver,” co-founder Asi Sharabi tells me on a recent visit to the Lost My Name offices. “Everything we do is on software.” READ MORE: The Picture Book That Parents Worldwide—And Google Ventures—Can’t Put Down | Co.Create | creativity + culture + commerce.
The article discusses the importance and applications of anticipatory design.
Technology has revolutionized the way we live our lives and do business, but it has done a terrible job reducing the stress of so many decisions. Industry by industry, great digital design has eliminated middlemen from the economy and put users in control, making it fast and easy for us to determine what we want and purchase it directly, whether on a computer or over a phone. Now, with unlimited opportunities for decision-making, we have essentially made ourselves the middlemen in our own lives.
The enjoyment, and even fetishization, of the beautifully designed experiences we rely on to make these decisions has distracted us from our original goal of simplifying our lives. We’ve forgotten that the ultimate purpose of an interface is to make things simpler. In the future, the best interface will be no interface at all and the best decisions will be made without me having to make them (but according to my preferences and goals).