Entrepreneurship/Technologists/Beta with ChalkCast

ChalkCast has invited teachers and students to a virtual entrepreneurial collaboration. This fast-paced beta of new technology designed for learning began April 16, 2020. 
session 1 /1
The teachers and schools participating are:




Why do most startups fail? They build a product that no one wants.

Being a tech entrepreneur requires more than knowing how to code and building a web app. In this virtual collaboration, we will partner with tech startup ChalkCast to think, design, and build like industry practitioners. We will take an early stage product through real-world scenarios, from user testing to designing new features for a minimum viable product (MVP). In this program, we will:



  • Session 1: Learning Fast vs. Failing Fast

  • Session 2: Testing our Prototype  

  • Session 3: Designing the Next Feature

  • Session 4: Building Features with React components


First Student Session, April 24, 2020


This workshop introduced user research fundamentals, with a concentration on user interviews. It demonstrated common pitfalls that lead to bad design, discussed how to avoid them, and came up with strategies for uncovering real user insights. Students practiced interviews in zoom breakout groups, and worked together to make sense of their research findings.


Our industry partnership is led by Kate Migliazzo’s from ChalkCast. Immediately following her intro, a few brave teachers set the stage by volunteering to role play.  Simi Basu and Tom Kirk have since been nominated for Academy awards. (haha)


It didn’t take long for the students to become the teachers. 


Global solutions are inevitable when the people solving the problem are from India and rural Colorado.


So many details, so many ideas, so many questions.


What themes are emerging?

Now everyone will continue the discussion with fellow students and teachers.


In our next session, we will define the problem(s), and brainstorm solutions.


Supplemental Reading (Optional)

What is Design Thinking?

How to Conduct User Interviews

What Teaching Looks Like During Coronavirus

Why We’re Exhausted by ZOOM

session 1 / 2


Session 2: May 1, 2020
Hearing what the students have to say about the ideal virtual learning platform requires that we find ways to listen.

                             (. . . reflect on the ideas from individual groups)

(make the sessions interactive)
Now that we know the value of student voice in smaller groups, we split up into ZOOM breakout rooms and proposed new ideas, implementation strategies, and meaningful insight to what students and teachers would enjoy in ChalkCast’s beta test.
Once in breakup rooms, the teachers helped lead discussions. Mr. Parker (Lone Star School) was facilitating one of the groups. 
Several ChalckCast engineers were in the breakout rooms as well . . . like all the adults, we were trying to keep up with the students. 
STEM teacher Allison Doe facilitated students from New Mexico, rural Colorado, and the STEM School Highlands Ranch. This groups concentrated on issues revealing around sound.
I didn’t know how to edit this clip. So many amazing ideas! . . . facilitated by Simi Basu (STEM) and Abhimanyu (India).
Kate Migliazzo (ClalkCast) has been more than just an industry partner.  She has shown by example what professionalism looks like.  Kate and the ChalkCast team have spent hours preparing for their time with students and teachers. Thank you for setting the bar high and showing us how to navigate the agile world of a tech startup. 


SESSION 3 – Nothing Less Than A Miracle

If you’ve been following this collaboration, you’re ready to see a miracle.  The introductions set it up.  ENJOY!
In zoom, once we go into breakout rooms, I was only able to record individual sessions as I recorded them. Below are some small miracles that add up to a movement in learning.   
Debra Wilcox is one of STEM’s Building Ships Advisory Board members. She was able to witness the miracle along with students from India and Arickaree. 
We need to find a way to share the story with the world.  What I saw this morning was REAL learning, students engaged in joyful collaboration, teachers learning what the real world is like, and industry gaining valuable perspective.
My quest in developing THE SYNK and Building Ships has always been to let people know the importance of collaboration with students.  I’ve always felt that the GAP between what schools are doing and what industry does is getting larger every minute. 
Session 4, Presenting Solutions (May 13, 2020)
The students took over this session, presenting their ideas. We can’t wait to see how ChalkCast takes this from ideas to product.  
Perhaps the number one takeaway from this collaboration is that we need to listen to students. Their ideas are creative, professional, and could very well be implemented by ChalkCast or anyone searching for solutions. 
The student solutions are so amazing.  How about a teacher solution?
poor internet
The internet connection for Lakshita’s presentation made it hard to hear. However, because her documentation was so well done, Kate was able to comment. 
The teachers are meeting in a few weeks to discuss what just happened and how to extend the discovery.
Like any relationship, it’s a journey.                  To be continued . . . 
I personally believe that these 4 sessions were the best I have ever been part of. This was a true example of Global Digital Citizenship. We all learnt how to be responsible, ethical, compassionate and just learn. The capacity to collaborate and solve problems was more important than content knowledge. I think that everyone worked effectively in teams. Teachers who are on the forefront of this shift rave about the difference it has made for their students. “Students who once sat in the back of the room and didn’t want to speak up or be part of the lesson now are excited to get online and share what they’re learning. They want to teach others and they feel like their voice matters.” 
                                        – Simi Basu (STEM Computer Science Teacher)
It has been a great experience and really connects students with industry professionals.  I have enjoyed the conversations with the project managers and developers who are collaborating with students and teachers to bring their product to life.  
                                     Many Thanks!
                                     – Allison Doe (STEM Business Teacher)
I have been excited about working with ChalkCast ever since I heard about the opportunity. I want to be an entrepreneur in the future; therefore, I was hoping that I could use my experience with the sessions in order to power my future career. The very first session, I was not fully engaged and felt that the session could definitely be improved. One part that I personally thought could have been improved was the entire group discussion. The session immediately started out with a discussion without much background or chance to develop ideas. However, after we split into breakout rooms and then came back together as a group to discuss, it went much better. The second session was pretty fun because I was able to formulate various ideas with students and teachers from various schools as well as a thorough understanding of the problem that we want to solve. So far, I believe that the third session was the best! We all got to go through the Crazy 8s process and develop, share, and receive feedback on the ideas that we had. It was easier to get our ideas across because for most of the session, we were in breakout rooms and got the chance to talk to a smaller group of people. We also got the chance to learn, test out, and observe the various issues that can arise when developing a new product by using the ChalkCast product in its early stages. Overall, I had lots of fun with ChalkCast so far and look forward to more sessions with them. I would also like to give a shout out to my teacher (Ms. Basu) for connecting me with this opportunity. 
                                              – Lakshmi (STEM Student)  
I was so interested in the whole process. I watched today and I could experience all the student engagement. We need more of this.

                                        – Debra Wilcox / CEO The 3D Printing Store

Overall, the ChalkCast project was a very entertaining and knowledge-gaining experience. I really liked the fact that it was interactive and a real-world experience. We learned the process of how beta-testing happens in the industry. Here is my feedback about things that I liked and things that I didn’t enjoy:
Thing I liked
One of my favorite things throughout the entire ChalkCast experience was how interactive it was! We were put in breakout rooms, we had a lot of discussions, we even got to test out the application which is something you don’t get to do every day. Along with this, I like how our ideas  also mattered. We got to pitch our ideas to the product designers, we voted, and we received feedback. I’ve never done anything like this before and I think this is an awesome opportunity for everyone to hear about the real world. 
Things I didn’t like
Overall, I really enjoyed the experience. The one thing I didn’t like was the idea that we didn’t have more time! If we were able to do this for longer, I would have enjoyed looking and testing out the product even more. 
                                                         Gitanjali (STEM Studnet)
Burgeoning Collaborations
Ms. Doe (STEM Marketing Class)
Brennan, a Product Designer from ChalkCast will be presenting some of her work in Marketing class next week.  She will also cover some other professional design work she has done in her career and cover aspects of her typical day on the job.  I asked if I could share the project designs with my marketing class and she was excited to be there as a speaker for the students. 
See how Brennan took rough ideas and turned them into a high fidelity design: LINK
“I weighed this. It sounded promising. Hope began to burgeon.”
                                P. G. Wodehouse (1946 novel) : Joy in the Morning
The Challenge 
Below was from the K-99 Aerospace story in THE SYNK. The ChalkCast collaboration was an example of what learning can be.
Today, the fast pace of the design process in industries like aerospace has created a GAP in education, necessitating “a technology shift that we have no answer for.”

Although education is slowly making progress (red), the exponential growth of industry (blue), especially in the fields of technology, are increasing the GAP between what we are teaching and what our world needs.


 For more information contact: Gregg Cannady @ [email protected]



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