Teachers College’s First Edtech Innovation Award Winner Debuts App at SXSW

CREATIVITY CHAMPS Three Teachers College students — Danielle Llaneza (Developmental Psychology), Rebecca Kwee (Higher & Post-Secondary Education) and Asha Owens (Instructional Technology & Media) — submitted the winning project, “Best Fit,” an interactive app that enables 9th-12th graders to connect online with current first-generation students and ask them about campus life, academic rigor and other unknowns that loom large

Three graduate students at Teachers College, Columbia University created BestFit,  an app debuting at Pitch Black: The Future is Female event during the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin this March. The app enables high school students to connect online with current first-generation college and university students and ask them about campus life, academic rigor and other topics.

Best Fit is not yet a commercial product, but its creators, Rebecca Kwee, Danielle Llaneza and Asha Owens, are seeking financing to make and market the app to college admissions officers who want help recruiting and retaining first-generation students.

The Pitch Black event showcases exemplary black female founders and co-founders. Participants will present their business ideas for a chance to win an investment of $10,000 from Silicon Valley-based VC firm Backstage Capital, an black, female-led venture capital fund that invests in new companies led by women, people of color and LGBTQ founders.

The app beat 13 other finalists to win the grand prize at Teachers College’s inaugural EdTech Innovation competition, which held its award showcase ceremony in December. The contest emerged from a call from the college’s President Susan Fuhrman to develop ed tech tools based on research about how people learn and communicate as well as to deepen knowledge and expertise in a specific subject.

“EdTech products are often created without any expert feedback or understanding of the current educational theory,” Fuhrman said. The creative firepower generated by the college’s research, including student work, positions it to encourage ed tech products that have tangible outcomes in the classroom, Fuhrman added.

For more information about the Best Fit app or SXSW, click here.

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