ActiveGrade founders create new education startup Pear Deck

With increasingly fast Internet speeds and a growing ability for real-time interactions, innovations in technology are changing the game in traditional education.

Now Iowa City, Iowa-based startup Pear Deck is harnessing that technology to help teachers better engage with their students.

“What makes it really exciting is that one of the problems for any teacher, especially as class sizes continue to grow, is how you engage all students in a lesson,” Michal Eynon-Lynch told Silicon Prairie News …

Pear Deck allows teachers to create interactive presentations to engage students in real time. 

With increasingly fast Internet speeds and a growing ability for real-time interactions, innovations in technology are changing the game in traditional education. 

Now Iowa City, Iowa-based startup Pear Deck is harnessing that technology to help teachers better engage with their students. 

“What makes it really exciting is that one of the problems for any teacher, especially as class sizes continue to grow, is how you engage all students in a lesson,” Michal Eynon-Lynch told Silicon Prairie News. 

Using Pear Deck, teachers can not only create presentations but also make their lessons interactive to engage the entire classroom in their studies. Pear Deck is a Google Drive app for schools utilizing a one-to-one student to Chromebook ratio in the classroom. 

“Technology has changed immensely,” Eynon-Lynch said. “Pear Deck would not have been possible just over a year ago, but what’s available to use in terms of creating this instantaneous, real-time back and forth is incredible.”

When students answer questions or solve problems using Pear Deck, their teacher can display the results anonymously to the class. Teachers also can use the answers and data they collect to ensure their lesson plans are effective and reaching the largest number of students. 

“It’s not an easy thing to be up in front of a class every single day and try to create content that is engaging and meaningful and meets all of the requirements coming from national and local governments,” Eynon-Lynch (right) said. “If there’s any way we can help make that a little easier, then that’s something that can change teachers’ and students’ lives.”

So far Pear Deck has been bootstrapped, using funds from a friends and family round the startup raised earlier this summer. 

But Pear Deck isn’t the first education-focused tech company Eynon-Lynch, her husband Riley Eynon-Lynch and Pear Deck’s VP of design Dan Sweeney have built together. Eynon-Lynch says the decision to stay in the education space was a natural one. 

“We all have these differing levels of experience in the educational space,” she said. “We all have a passion for trying to help make teachers’ lives easier.” 

In February 2013, the trio’s startup ActiveGrade was acquired by Haiku Learning Systems, a cloud-based learning management system. Following the acquisition, the three-person team remained in Iowa City to work for Haiku, but Eynon-Lynch says she and her colleagues missed the thrill of building something new. 

“We realized after a year with Haiku that we were just really missing building our own product and building our own company,” she said. “The people at Haiku were wonderful to work with, we just wanted to be back in that exciting building-something-from-the-ground-up phase.”

In mid-March, Pear Deck will launch its first group of private beta testers at schools in two geographic hubs: the Midwest and East Coast. All together Pear Deck will launch its first beta round in 12 school districts with more than 40,000 Chromebooks, Eynon-Lynch said. 

 

Credits: Product photos courtesy Pear Deck. Michal Eynon-Lynch courtesy Eynon-Lynch. 

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