Through its Internet-based curriculum and professional development programs, Classroom Connect is fostering a new kind of interactive learning among teachers, students and families by providing compelling content in a rich web environment.
While most of us graduated from the "listen, record and replay" hard knocks school of learning, Judy Hamilton, CEO of Classroom Connect, claims this breed of pedagogy is passe. "If you're like most people, you learned by sitting in a classroom and having a teacher lecture to you. Then you memorized it and played it back on a test. All of us at Classroom Connect think there are better ways to teach many subjects," says Hamilton.
To prove it, Hamilton and her team built upon the Classroom Connect Newsletter, a guide to using the Internet in the classroom started in 1994, to launch a new company: Classroom Connect. "Our mission with Classroom Connect is to provide the training and curriculum resources required to integrate the Internet into K - 12 teaching," says Hamilton.
Internet-based Learning is Interactive, Collaborative
Why Internet-based learning? "Instead of a static one to many lecture, kids learn many subjects better if they are interactive and collaborative and if they're involved in constructing the elements of their own education," says Hamilton, "We believe the Internet is a tremendous tool, which can be used to promote classroom learning that is dynamic and interactive."
What's more, Hamilton advises that now's the time for Internet learning, "The good news is that today over 90 percent of K - 12 schools in the U.S. have an Internet connection. The bad news? Very few teachers have training on how to use technology." For this reason, Classroom Connect focuses on the teacher as its customer, offering them professional development opportunities that span web-based learning on technology to 150+ Internet-based products that teachers can use in the classroom.
Take Classroom Connect's flagship product, 'Classroom Today.' It provides curriculum topics, standards and alignment resources so teachers can plan curriculum activities that correlate to national and state standards--and have complete Web library access. Other products include Classroom Connect's 'Quest' adventure learning expeditions, which provides online courses for teachers on using the Internet for teaching, and access to educational materials on the web.
Intel Capital Invests in Classroom Connect
In 1999, Hamilton, the previous CEO of DataQuest, was serendipitously strolling along Palo Alto's University Avenue when she ran into an ex-DataQuest colleague who was chatting with someone. "He greeted me, then turned to his companion and said, 'You ought to talk to this woman, she's raising money and she has a cool company,'" laughs Hamilton.
It turns out this mystery man on the street was from Intel Capital. "At his request, I shipped him a business plan--but didn't do much follow up since I had this idea that my company wasn't really up Intel Capital's alley. Then, three months later, two Intel members focused on the education market segment, came to my office on a Saturday morning to share bagels and coffee--and we learned more from them about the education market segment than we've learned from any other entity we had previously talked to," says Hamilton.
After many presentations and a due diligence investigation, Intel Capital saw that Classroom Connect was exploiting and implementing Internet technologies in very innovative ways, all of which could have a positive impact on education--including students, teachers and parents. Intel Capital decided to invest in Classroom Connect in 1999.
Relationship Fosters Great Connections
Since launching Classroom Connect, Hamilton says it has really taken off. "In the first Quarter of 2000 alone, we've had 47,000 unique users (not paid users) exploring learning opportunities through use of Classroom Today. Additionally, kids in over 120 countries participated in our last Quest." Classroom Connect also received the 1999 Computerworld Smithsonian Award, where its Connected University, Connected Teacher and Quest adventure learning series will be in the Smithsonian's Permanent Collection. Most recently, Classroom Connect was awarded the Heller 2000 Pioneer award for the company that has done the most to promote technology in K - 12 education.
According to Hamilton, Intel has made some great connections for Classroom Connect--some expected and others not. "While Intel Capital has connected us to other education companies, I never foresaw the introduction they made for us while we were conducting our last Quest--where we were to retrace Marco Polo's 2000-mile trek by bicycling along China's Silk Road, with 1,000,000+ school kids collaborating with us via the Internet."
Hamilton says her team was having enormous difficulty getting Chinese permits for videos and related equipment. "That week I had lunch with my Intel Capital associate, who said the Minister of Education from China was to visit on Friday. Did I want to join in? We flew out a Quest team member, a Ph.D. and Archeologist, who presented our case to the Minister and got our China permits--quite a surprise connection!" says Hamilton.
Intel has also offered Classroom Connect some good exposure, says Hamilton, "It was Intel that nominated us for the Smithsonian award--and, in June 2000, Intel's CEO, included us in his keynote to NECC, the biggest Education Conference in the country with 13,000 educators participating.
Intel also gets some great exposure in working with us, adds Hamilton, "And an ongoing connection to all that's happening in the world of education."
Classroom Connect, Inc.
"Our relationship with Intel has been helpful. Intel knows a lot about education and they're very influential. Intel's connections and insight have given us advantages that we as a small company would never have. The working relationship has also been fabulous. Intel is interested in our market segment, and they're doing their part to promote it. They support us in obvious ways, like alerting us to technology trends and the not so obvious, like getting us visas in China."
Classroom Connect, Inc.
AT A GLANCE...
Classroom Connect, Inc.
Foster City, CA
For more information, contact Intel Capital.
Last updated: October 2000
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