Knowledge Universe, a partnership of Mike and Lowell Milken and Larry Ellison, was the first major U.S. fund to invest in education technologies. Mike Milken recruited me from Kaplan as EVP at KU in 1998 and in 1999 they funded my start up, “TeacherUniverse”.
At the time technology caused teachers more trouble than it provided in benefits. Clamoring under desks to hook up computers, dealing with slow bandwidths, a lack of quality digital curricululum, integration of software and tools were major problems. Yet worse was the lack of professional development, training, and insight into how to integrate technology into the curiculum. We founded TU to help with these challenges.
We developed teacher technology integration professional development with an adaptive assessment engine “AssessOnline”. This enabled teachers to speed through what they already knew. How to use technology in the classroom, how to build standards-based lessons online, how to manage their computer, how to research and cite were all covered.
We delivered our IntegrateOnline model throughout the U.S. and consulted with education ministries in Costa Rica, Panama, and Nicaragua. We offered “blended” solutions with our teacher-trainers supporting school implementation in introductory sessions, with teachers continuing online.
But we were “bleeding edge”– even the significant adoptions we accomplished could not save us. TeacherUniverse was sold to Riverdeep (which later acquired Houghten Mifflin, then Harcourt). The IntegrateOnline model was judged not profitable enough and ended. Its adaptive learning engine, “AssessOnline” continued through a state contract we achieved with Georgia.
I was able to license GALAXY Classroom from Riverdeep into my new start up, Best Practice Networks. We were able to grow it into a full science K-5 curriculum following pacing guides of Miami-Dade, Broward, Charlotte-Mecklenburg districts and various charter schools.