Education administrators have long been frustrated with the difficulties of providing quality feedback to their teachers — a costly and time consuming endeavor that many schools simply don’t have the resources to do as often as needed. Education startup Edthena is looking to eliminate the traditional complications of helping teachers improve their craft by providing an online platform where educators can submit videos of themselves teaching and get targeted, appropriate feedback in time with their lessons.
Edthena was founded by Adam Geller, who experienced the personal struggles of an educator in need of quality feedback as a first year science teacher. “I was observed occasionally by my principal, but there was no one with science expertise who could come in and give me targeted feedback,” Geller said. Later, during his time on the national strategy team at Teach for America, Galler continued to see the problem persisting across all levels of education.
“Funadementally, there is a constraint around providing ‘enough’ high-quality, high-touch support to teachers in the form of observation and feedback. The process is just too resource intensive,” said Geller. “I was inspired to think about support models that could scale rapidly even in a situation of constrained resources — the financial or human capital — without making dramatic sacrifices in quality.”
That idea turned into Edthena, which Geller launched in August of last year. The company spent its formative months in the Education Ventures program at the Ewing Marion Kauffman foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. “This fellowship provided runway to validate the market through customer development and then develop a ‘version 1’ of the platform,” said Geller.
In its first year, Edthena secured partnerships with institutions including the University of Washington, University of Michigan, and Teach for America, whose combined users logged more than 20,000 minutes of instruction using the service. Edthena is currently operating on a software as a service model, charging educational institutions based on the number of individual users.
Geller said the company is currently looking to raise outside capital in order to scale the team and build the technology more quickly than organic growth will allow. And with a $12 billion teacher improvement industry for the taking, the urgency to quickly build out its educational feedback platform is entirely understandable.
“In some senses Edthena has validated something that, eighteen months ago, people thought was crazy,” said Geller. “There’s a common misconception that teachers don’t want to get better… We don’t give teachers the right support because today’s methods are just too expensive.” Edthena is Geller’s ultimate answer to that long-running dilemma, to make sure administrators don’t have to worry about exhausting their resources with endless observations, and that teachers can focus on what’s going on in the classroom by getting the help they need, when they need it.