I've been fortunate enough to see educators and entrepreneurs come together at EdCamps across the east coast - Baltimore, New York City, New Jersey, Philly, and Rhode Island. As a former educator turned EdTech-er, never have I experienced more love and kindheartedness than in Rhode Island.
My experience in one particular session at EdCamp RI effectively sums up all that is going on in the EdTech scene there.
The "EdTech in Rhode Island" room was packed full of educators, administrators and EdTech founders - we had to squeeze in additional chairs and there were still people sitting on the ground. Shawn kicked it off with short introductions and dove right in - How do we turn Rhode Island into THE place where educators and EdTech companies can come together to create amazing tools for teachers, parents, and students? In the hour that followed, there was no BS, no frills, no advertisements, no ulterior motives - just straight up honesty, passion, and drive to turn Rhode Island into EdTech central. It was infectious.
After EdCamp, the enthusiasm continued. For Portfoliyo, it came in the form of principals like Don Miller asking me to come show Portfoliyo to his teachers, and teachers like Vanessa Waggenheim (below) using Portfoliyo and sharing valuable feedback. Can you believe it? Things actually happened after the meeting.
I am loving Portfoliyo! A parent who I had noworking numbers for signed up and now I can contact them! @shawncrubin @harshoninternet
— Vanessa Waggenheim (@wagsedtech) December 4, 2012
A couple weeks later, Shawn organized the RI EdTech Meetup where there were more educators than entrepreneurs present. Crazy. An EdTech meet up with educators? Who would have ever thought? And again, the discussions didn't stop once everyone walked out the door - they continued. One principal connected me with another, who connected me with another, and in a matter of days, teachers all around town began using Portfoliyo, with Shea High School and Lillian Feinstein at Sackett Street Elementary leading the way.
From my experience, Rhode Island educators have their hearts in the right place. They help each other out, and don't care who gets credit - as long as it means more Rhode Island students are succeeding.
They're awesome, and any EdTech company looking for some love from teachers shouldn't underestimate this seemingly tiny state.