Amazon Starts Marketplace for Teachers to Sell Online Educational Resources

edsurge | November 13, 2019

Tech giant Amazon is making an attempt to profit from the growing number of teachers who sell lesson plans and other classroom-related materials to colleagues and parents online. On Tuesday, the company announced a program called Amazon Ignite, which will let a select group of educators sell their online teaching resources via Amazon. The lesson plans and other resources will show up in regular Amazon search results, just like any other product in the vast digital marketplace. Amazon will take 30 percent of the sales of teacher-made resources, plus a transaction fee of 30 cents for items under $2.99. The name sounds very similar to, but is separate from, Amazon’s collection of free online educational resources, called Inspire. That effort drew controversy when it was launched in 2016, when teachers complained that Amazon was not doing enough to keep people from posting copyrighted materials that they didn’t create and claiming them as their own. In response, Amazon removed the offending materials, took the site down for maintenance, and later relaunched it with what officials said was a more-robust vetting system.

Spotlight

Educational animations are animations produced for the specific purpose of fostering learning.In contrast, software is now available that makes it possible for individual educators to author their own animations without the need for specialist expertise.

Spotlight

Educational animations are animations produced for the specific purpose of fostering learning.In contrast, software is now available that makes it possible for individual educators to author their own animations without the need for specialist expertise.

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TALENT DEVELOPMENT

Orenda Education Merges With Think Together to Create Scalable School Improvement Nonprofit

Think Together | September 13, 2022

Think Together, one of California's largest nonprofits serving K-12 schools today announced it has completed the merger with Orenda Education, a top school improvement and professional development consultancy. Upon the close, the combined organization will serve more than 200,000 students across the state with more than $150 million in annual revenue. Moreover, the organization will be better positioned to rapidly scale their impact. "We're thrilled to bring our two organizations together in our combined efforts to improve student success and close the achievement gap,This merger is the natural evolution of Orenda's existing relationship with Think Together and solidifies our joint commitment to ensuring that the more than 2 million California students that are performing far below grade level have the support they need during the school day and beyond to succeed academically." Think Together Founder and CEO Randy Barth Over the past seven years, Think Together and Orenda have had an affiliate agreement in place while the full acquisition builds the long-term financial and operational capacities for Orenda to continue to scale. Orenda's work focuses on transformingeducation systems, either across a school district or by cohorts of schools, providing professional development to all levels of district staff, around a specific data-driven but people-centric school improvement model. Think Together partners with over 60 school districts and charter management organizations to provide more than 900 direct-to-student academic and enrichment programs at more than 450 school sites across California, serving more than 100,000 youth. Orenda Education works behind-the-scenes with school district leaders and educators to identify inequities in schools and then transform their systems to ensure all students have access to a premium education. "Think Together has always been an incredible partner, infusing the infrastructure needed to provide an efficient model for changing the odds for kids," said Orenda Education Founder and CEO Dr. Robin Avelar La Salle. "Our two models have always complemented each other but now, we can efficiently scale our vision for all students to receive the premium education they deserve." The acquisition comes as both organizations experience tremendous growth due in large part to new and renewed state investments in education to accelerate learning recovery efforts and provide educators with needed support amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "Now more than ever, teachers, school leaders and administrators need to think outside the box to address the issues impacting students including socio-economic biases, social emotional learning, and more," added Barth. "Providing these much-needed supports to educators means districts and schools can provide the skills they need to teach, lead and counsel during and following a period of great disruption during the pandemic. Recently the U.S. Department of Education reported a dramatic decline in scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) known as the nation's scorecard. Two decades of growth for American students in reading and math were wiped away by just two years of pandemic-disrupted learning, according to national test scores released last week. And, the declines were much larger for students at lower performance levels, widening already-huge learning disparities between the country's high- and low-achievers. Orenda's approach to school improvement has proven to accelerate student outcomes, such as mastery of grade-level standards (measured by math and English language SBAC scores), improved A-G class completion rates, and improved graduation rates. They also provide administrative coaching, teaching strategies, and leadership clinics. To expand these services, Orenda was recently awarded a $4 million Education Innovation and Research grant by the U.S. Department of Education to digitize and distribute their school improvement approach through an online platform that is effective and highly scalable to schools and districts in any geography, and to those who require less in-person support. Think Together adds Orenda to their growing list of services that support student education in and around the school day. Think Together's flagship afterschool programs support students in underserved communities with homework help, enrichment, social-emotional learning and physical well-being, all to enable students to strive for college or a fulfilling career. To provide high-quality programs, Think Together partners with philanthropic organizations like the Joseph Drown Foundation. "Breaking down the barriers to opportunity, equity and access in education by keeping students and their success as the centered focus is one of the most meaningful investments for our future generations" said Alyssa Santino, Program Director of the Joseph Drown Foundation. "Ensuring the educators, leaders and structures around students are supported and inspired and effectively trained with research-based, proven and engaging strategies is imperative for thriving students and communities. We are pleased to partner with Think Together and Orenda Education as they excel in this space and continue to transform the trajectory of students and the schools they attend." Barth sees the combination of direct services to students through expanded and early learning, coupled with equity-based professional development, as an effective combination to supporting student achievement alongside their school district and charter partners. Dr. Paul Gothold, Superintendent of County Office of Education in San Diego agrees. His former district, Lynwood Unified School District, realized astonishing improvements when partnering with both Think Together and Orenda, including increasing graduation rates from 56% to 90.8%, and A-G college eligible rates from 18% to 53%. Orenda provides the technical expertise for true district turn-around. The systems approach and professional development modules to build staff capacity ensures all leaders have the tools and resources to provide a premium education for all students, said Gothold. "With Think Together's financial and operational support, Orenda is well positioned to continue providing much-needed education innovation to schools throughout the state and beyond. About Think Together For over 25 years Think Together has partnered with schools and communities to pursue educational equity and excellence for all kids. As a nonprofit organization, Think Together innovates, implements, and scales academic solutions that change the odds for hundreds of thousands of California students. Think Together's program areas include early learning, afterschool, school support services and leadership development for teachers and school administrators.

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CORPORATE LEARNING SYSTEMS

Interplay Learning Announces the Release of New Online Workplace Safety Training

INTERPLAY LEARNING | August 29, 2022

Workplace safety is a top priority for companies across the globe. To help businesses keep their employees safe, Interplay Learning is releasing new workplace safety training for the essential skilled trades.This on-demand training includes new courses on Bloodborne Pathogens Awareness, Heat Stress Recognition and Prevention, Hazard Communications, Electrically Safe to Work Procedures, Hot Work, and more. With Interplay's affordable safety training courses, companies can quickly equip their teams with the knowledge and skills to perform work safely and minimize risk.Interplay's Safety catalog will include more than 30 hours of workplace safety training featuring short, entertaining videos that can be accessed on demand from a phone, tablet, or desktop computer. The catalog also features a hands-on, 3D simulation course teaching the tasks and requirements of establishing safe work conditions when working with electricity. Companies using Interplay can quickly deliver consistent training to their entire team and allow workers to train in their downtime. Interplay also makes it easy for companies to track compliance and comprehension using course assignments, built-in quizzes, and progress tracking. With these new offerings, Interplay now offers one-stop-shopping for both safety training and award-winning, hands-on skilled trades training. Employees can quickly gain the knowledge to work safely while also taking advantage of a full online catalog of hands-on technical training for HVAC, Electrical, Plumbing, Multi-Family, Facilities Maintenance, and Solar. Using short video courses, immersive 3D simulations, VR, knowledge checks, and coaching, Interplay can rapidly train and upskill workers for increased productivity. "Interplay gives companies the best of both worlds by offering safety and technical training in one affordable online training solution, "We are excited to help companies build a culture of safety, reduce incidents, and keep workers healthy while also giving them a pathway to develop the technical skills of their entire team." Doug Donovan, CEO of Interplay Learning. Interplay's safety training will help prepare workers to identify and avoid potential hazards, equipping them with the skills to handle situations effectively and giving employers increased confidence that their workforce is ready to take on jobs safely and effectively. Interplay Learning, a global provider of scalable, highly effective hands-on digital learning simulations for the HVAC, plumbing, electrical, solar and facilities maintenance industries, is building better training, better careers and better lives for its customers and their employees. Interplay Learning's digital experiential learning platform, SkillMill, conveniently turns any space into a training lab with short video courses, 3D simulations, knowledge checks, and other advanced features that prepare users to be job-ready in weeks, not years. About Interplay Learning Since 2016, Austin-based Interplay Learning has been building better training, better careers and better lives for its customers and their employees. Its award-winning online and VR training for the essential skilled trades, including HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Solar, Multi-Family Maintenance and Facilities Maintenance workforces, is scalable and more effective than traditional training methods. By leveraging immersive learning technology, Interplay's customers are able to train and practice hands-on learning from a desktop, phone, tablet or in virtual reality. The result is a highly trained employee who is job-ready in weeks, not years. Its digital learning platform, SkillMill, conveniently turns any space into a training lab with its short video courses, 3D simulations, knowledge checks, coaching and connectivity. Recent accolades include recognition by Fast Company's World Changing Ideas Awards in the Education, General Excellence and On the Rise categories. Welcome to the next generation of the skilled labor workforce.

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EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY

Outschool Selects Promoted to Optimize Marketplace and Increase Profitability

Outschool | July 26, 2022

Promoted, which is the only company to unify search, feed, ads, and promotions for top marketplaces, announced today that Outschool has selected Promoted to optimize the performance and profitability of its education marketplace. Outschool wanted to better match its classes with learners to increase search conversion rates, total GMV (gross merchandise value), and profitability. Outschool chose Promoted after weighing the costs and risks of building an order-of-magnitude greater infrastructure investment versus working with the experienced Promoted team to get a proven, real-time streaming data service with ML in place. Within a quarter, Promoted optimized Outschool search to increase conversion by about +11%, with more improvements planned for H2 2022. “Promoted is able to measure and report on data in real-time on search for us and use machine learning to better match teachers and students so we can very effectively increase conversion rates and make our customers and users happy. “The founders have deep experience in search optimization as ad engineers from Facebook, Pinterest and Google, and we have found the technology extends and compounds our existing engineering investments in search and discovery to directly increase profitability at a reasonable cost.” Kejia Zhu, Lead Product Manager, from Outschool Promoted and Marketplaces Right now, most large marketplaces have separate teams for ads, merchandising, search, and recommendations. They all work in separate departments and information is siloed. Even with expensive tech savvy engineers, these businesses do not have a unified data infrastructure that is measuring performance of everything in search feed, merchandising, and ads across the marketplace. When ads, listings, promotions, and search aren’t optimized together, conversions are low, revenues decrease, and it becomes a death spiral as more ads and promotions are shown to compensate, further driving away users. Promoted is the only provider that offers a complete and comprehensive solution to fix this problem for e-commerce apps and marketplaces. Promoted’s secret sauce is its ability to provide an entire measurement solution with a data service that measures and optimizes user engagement in real-time. Other ad tech or search vendors are measuring pieces with siloed data and/or only measuring ads, not giving marketplaces the complete picture. How it Works First, Promoted measures everything in its client’s app or marketplace, then they aggregate and join the data in real-time with reporting. Next, using AI-based data optimization, Promoted creates a complete picture of the data so they can predict conversion and clicks for the client’s search and feed. Once Promoted has this complete picture of performance on a marketplace, it creates a “unified currency” for optimizing trade-offs between the optimal user experience in search and feed, seller experience using ads and promotions, and marketplace profitability versus growth. “We are very excited to be working with Outschool and to so quickly increase conversions for its business,” said Andrew Yates, Co-Founder and CEO of Promoted. “Promoted gives top marketplaces and e-commerce companies one complete picture of how search, feed, ads and promotions are performing by measuring in real-time and then optimizing them using machine learning to increase conversions. By unifying this information, the entire marketplace works properly, and CFOs and COOs can set achievable goals for revenue and profitability.” About Outschool Outschool offers live online education experiences that connect real-life teachers with learners in small-group settings to explore everything from Minecraft, Pokemon and Cooking to Chemistry, Algebra and Literature. With over 100,000 online classes offered by teachers to learners around the globe, Outschool helps supplement what is often missing from a more traditional education. Outschool’s mission is to inspire kids to love learning by making education fun, social and self-directed. Classes on Outschool range from one-time enrichment lessons to semester-long core courses and weekly social clubs. Classes are offered across all subjects, and learners range from age 3 to 18. About Promoted Promoted is the only company to unify search, feed, ads, and promotions for top marketplaces like Outschool, Hipcamp, Teachers Pay Teachers, Snackpass, and other e-commerce unicorns. Promoted works by measuring everything in the marketplace using its real-time streaming data infrastructure. Then, Promoted maximizes conversions in search and feed through machine learning. Backed by Y Combinator, the company was founded by former ad engineers from Pinterest, Facebook, and Google.

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