Startl – Back in Action for the Fall

[ 0 ] September 16, 2010 |

We took a few weeks off from blogging here at Startl. But now that Summer is in the rear view mirror and we’re barreling down the highway toward fall, we’re back in blogging action.

As we head into the new Startl season, we’d like to kick off this new round of blogging by correcting the record and setting the agenda.

First, correcting the record.
In July, we re-posted here at Startl Ink a NYT article by Robert Stross entitled Computers at Home: Educational Hope vs. Teenage Reality. The article reported the results of three different studies (one in Romania, one in North Carolina, and one in Texas), which looked at the impact of computers in the home on the academic performance of students.

According to Ross, all three of these studies uniformly show that having a computer at home leads to lower test scores.

Just before I left for vacation, I was over at Computers for Youth (CFY), a national non-profit that helps low-income children do better in school by improving their learning environments at home. This was the first time I had ever met Elizabeth Stock (CEO and co-founder of CFY). Before I even had the chance to introduce myself, however, Elizabeth called me out for having posted the Stross piece.

According to Stock, Stross misconstrued or (worse) misrepresented the data of the studies to arrive at his outcome, by overstating the negative outcomes of the North Carolina study and understating the positive outcomes of the Texas study. In addition, Stross also overlooked a major aspect of the larger story – the social wrap that has to come with technology. And, by that we don’t mean school policing software that control students use of technology but rather the types of personal training programs that enable them to use it effectively for self-directed learning.

At Startl, we have never believed that technology will be the answer to today’s learning problems. Technology is never a silver bullet. And, at worst, it can be just a bullet. But, we like our friends at CFY do believe that a well-designed media experience delivered in a well-supported social context can enable the types of learning practices that will improve learning outcomes.

So, after talking to CFY and doing a bit of data verification on my end, for the record and on the record, I encourage everyone to take a closer re-read of the Stross article and ask what’s amiss in his story. And, in doing so, to think about how we can bridge hope and reality by addressing the social context at the same time that we advance the technological tools. 

For more on CFY’s formal response to Stross’s July 11 NYT article entitled Computers at Home: Educational Hope vs. Teenage Reality, please go to

Second, setting the agenda.
As some of you may recall, we launched Startl in January 2010. Over these last 7 months or so, we have run several programs including our Design Boost, Startup Accelerator, and Venture Capital Summit. From these we have learned a lot, about ourselves and about the field. 
Because we take the principles of user-centered design and agile development quite seriously — down to applying them to the structure of organization and the nature of our programming — we are iterating as we go. In fact, we are already deeply engaged in mapping Startl 2.0.

As we complete this iteration, we will be reflecting on some of the main lessons of our first organizational cycle, and sharing them with you as part of Startl Ink.  So, look forward to hearing more from Phoenix, Laurie, and myself as we roll into the new Startl season.  We’ll be reporting on themes ranging from design and entrepreneurism to technology and investment in the context of digital media for learning. Please let us know if there is a particular topic you’d like to hear about.

Related posts:

  1. Welcome to Startl and our Startl Ink blog
  2. The Investors’ Circle Fall Venture Fair – Applicant Deadline July 30
  3. Computers at Home – Educational Hopes v. Teenage Reality
  4. Startl Announces 10 Teams for November 2010 Mobile Design Boost
  5. Joi Ito, Startl Board Member, Named Director of M.I.T Media Lab


Category: Startl Biz

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