Why it's the right time to rethink Philly edtech [TONIGHT] - Technical.ly Philly


Apr. 10, 2014 4:05 pm

Why it’s the right time to rethink Philly edtech [TONIGHT]

Philly edtech has quite a bit going on, from our two-and-a-half-year-old meetup group that meets monthly, to the University of Pennsylvania’s Education Design Studio edtech incubator, to exciting startups such as ApprenNet, Autism Expressed, Slate and Professor Word. We have people’s attention.

At a Philly Edtech Meetup.

This is a guest post by Marcus T. Wright, a Learning Science & Technologies Graduate Student at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.


Philadelphia has a lot of it when it comes to our tech sector. Just take a look at the events for Philly Tech Week Presented by AT&T 2014 and you’ll see. We have makers, hackers, tech entrepreneurs, and edtech aficionados galore in this city. Collaborations, hackathons, codeathons, tech meetups and conversations are populating the city at a prominent rate. We’re not Silicon Valley, but we don’t want to be. We’re Philadelphia. And I believe the world is watching, because they know what we have and what we can do.

But we should still rethink what we’re doing, particularly in the edtech sector that is so vital to our city’s future. Join us at Philly EdTech Meetup’s Rethink Philly EdTech on April 10 at Venturef0rth.


Yes, we have the momentum. So why bother suggesting that we should “pause” and rethink what we’re doing? Surely this is a notion that contradicts what “momentum” is all about, right?


One of the worst things a talented person can do is ride a wave of success until the well runs dry, never taking time to think of how to increase the longevity and impact of that success (otherwise known as “underachieving”).

Such a mindset misses the point, particularly when it comes to using technology as part of the educational process. The newest gear and the latest software in a classroom does not accomplish anything on its own. The minds that engage with the technology — the learners and the teacher(s) — do the legwork. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what technology we use in the classroom, but rather how we integrate and use that technology.

So the question becomes, “How do we best integrate and use technology in the educational process, be it for our youth, the adult learner, the teacher, or even online?”

There are many in Philadelphia that are pushing this important conversation forward, and as one of those people, I can attest that it has been a very thought-provoking dialogue.

But there comes a time when you have to stop and say, “Okay, where am I?” or more appropriately in this case, “Where are we?” Now is that time for Philly edtech.


Some say we should be a hub of edtech innovation.

With good reason. Philly edtech has quite a bit going on, from our two-and-a-half-year-old meetup group that meets monthly, to the University of Pennsylvania’s Education Design Studio edtech incubator, to exciting startups such as ApprenNet, Autism Expressed, Slate and Professor Word. We have people’s attention.

As a result, this is actually the perfect time to pause and reflect on the use and integration of educational technology in Philadelphia. Are there ideas we’re missing? Are there factors we’re forgetting? Are there misconceptions we’re perpetuating? How are we thinking about the city’s budget-strapped school district?

We will do this on April 10th during Philly Tech Week at our event, “ReThink Philly EdTech.” We will pause. We will reflect. And we will be challenged by speakers to think deeper about what educational technology really means. We will challenge ourselves, our ideas, and our own perspectives on educational technology. We will do this because we do not want the well to run dry. We will do this because we want to use technology to best serve every learner in this city and beyond.

And we will do this because we are Philadelphia. We have momentum, but we want so much more.

World, take notice.

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