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Educators Develop Classroom Innovations at Michigan Bootcamp

Following a pitch contest held last month, the nonprofit Michigan Virtual hosted a three-day bootcamp for teachers to develop their educational and entrepreneurial ideas for classroom innovations.

Illustration of children in a futuristic concept classroom with laptops, VR headsets.
Bootcamps are an increasingly popular way to get a jolt of focus toward a specific subject matter, whether it be for cybersecurity, coding, curriculum to address IT skill gaps, or more broadly focused on STEM. Last week, a Michigan nonprofit that provides online courses for students and professional development for teachers hosted a virtual bootcamp to help educators from around the state develop innovative ideas for their classrooms, and business models to sell them.

According to a news release from Michigan Virtual, which hosted the event, attendees of the Michigan EdTech Innovation Bootcamp presented ideas such as a choose-your-own-adventure history app, a mobile laser design studio for STEAM activities, a blended school that would combine the best of online and in-person learning, and a cube satellite for hands-on STEM lessons.

“Technology offers a solution to those challenges, but often lacks the support to bring ideas to life,” Michigan Virtual President and CEO Jamey Fitzpatrick said in a public statement. “The education technology industry has the expertise to bridge that gap, and our Edtech Innovation Bootcamp holds the potential to make real change happen within our classrooms.”

The nonprofit invited educators — hailing from Lake Orion, Riverview, Stockbridge, Livonia, Ann Arbor, Oxford, Sterling Heights, St. Clair and Bay City — who took part in the Michigan EdTech Innovation Pitch Contest last month, where three educators were awarded $20,000 in startup grants to help with their ideas. Winners of that competition included a teacher who won first prize for developing a satellite-launch STEM kit and curriculum focused on engineering and space exploration; another who took second for creating an audiovisual encyclopedia exploration environment for early learners; and a third-place winner who created an online learning tool that integrates social-emotional learning with academic practice.

The nonprofit said it intends to host another competition and bootcamp next year.