Pear Deck accepted to ed-tech competition, plans expanded roll out

Pear Deck accepted to ed-tech competition, plans expanded roll out

After incorporating in January and launching a closed beta in March, Iowa City education startup Pear Deck is ready to take a national stage and roll out to educators nationwide. The startup will travel to Philadelphia on May 13-14 to compete in the Milken-Penn business plan competition, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and the Milken Family Foundation, which focuses on education and health innovation. Pear Deck was one of 12 companies nationally selected to compete. Meanwhile, co-founders are gradually granting access to their 1,500-member waiting list. Pear Deck is a tool that lets K-12 teachers create interactive lessons for their classrooms. Teachers can quiz students to see how well they are understanding the material in real time. The company was founded by serial Iowa City entrepreneurs Michal Eynon-Lynch, Riley Eynon-Lynch and Dan Sweeney, and Anthony Showalter, who is based near New York City. “What’s exciting about this platform is there’s no fear,” said Michal, a former teacher herself. “The teacher is able to see what every student is thinking, where before she would only hear from those students who raised their hands a lot.” Pear Deck is built on Google Apps for Education, a platform used by millions of students worldwide. The program lives inside of Google Drive, and students log in with their Google account. Pear Deck is optimized for Google’s cloud-based Chromebook devices, as more schools move to a 1:1 student:device ratio, but it can be used in any system where students and teachers have Google accounts. (Google itself claims that one in five school districts are using Chromebooks.) “Schools know they can’t afford not to have computers available…
Mission Creek adds technology conference

Mission Creek adds technology conference

Mission Creek, the annual festival that brings hundreds of artists to dozens of venues in downtown Iowa City, is getting even bigger this year with the addition of a technology conference. The two-day event will kick off with an opening ceremony on April 4, and continues all day April 5 at the Pappajohn Business Building on the University of Iowa Campus. It will conclude with a keynote lecture at the Englert Theatre by Matthew Israel, an art historian and director of the Art Genome Project at Artsy. Israel uses technology to make sense of art: The Art Genome Project is a discovery engine that powers Artsy’s online database, connecting works of art by historical movement, subject matter and formal qualities. Other speakers include David Gould, director of imagination for the Downtown Project in Las Vegas; Jen Meyers, an instructor at Dev Bootcamp in Chicago and founder of the Columbus, Ohio chapter of Girl Develop It; Chad Whitacre, founder of Gittip, a money-exchanging platform; as well as local speakers Shawn Coranlly, headmaster of Cedar Rapids BIG School, and the three co-founders of ActiveGrade, which was acquired in late 2012, and Pear Deck, a new educational platform for chromebook schools. The tech conference will take place amid the music, literature, food and film offerings of Mission Creek. For more details, visit www.missionfreak.com/tech. We caught up with Wesley Beary, the conference’s organizer, for more details: We Create Here: Why did you, personally, want to bring a tech conference to Iowa City? Wesley Beary: Growing up in Iowa, I sometimes found myself wishing there were things around that were not. I ended up leaving to...