A key theme of next week’s MEF Global Forum 2014, and a highlight of the agenda for Day 1’s Innovation day, is the role of mobile technology in Education. Diana Stepner, VP of Innovation Partnerships & Developer Relations at Pearson, is one the expert panelists from the dedicated EdTech session, and here talks about some of the work that the global publishing and education company is doing to harness mobile innovation to improve the reach and quality of education.

One of our aims at Pearson, as a global learning company, is to tackle the most pressing challenges in education. That’s why we not only nurture new ideas from within our company, but also stay connected to hotbeds of innovation elsewhere, fostering partnerships with co-working spaces, incubators and startups that are working in education technology and further afield.

As technology continues to weave itself into all aspects of our lives, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that it will also have a significant impact on the future of education. The mobile phone, in particular, has enormous potential to transform education. Around the world, learners are using mobile phones to remotely access learning opportunities from experts anywhere, anytime. And where internet connectivity is unreliable, text messaging and preinstalled content can be used to provide educational materials as well.

Within Pearson, instead of watching developments from the sidelines, we want to collaborate and help activate positive change in the education technology space – and last year we launched our own accelerator programme, Pearson Catalyst for Education. As part of the programme, Pearson brands are matched with a carefully selected group of edtech startups – a new batch each year – that share Pearson’s aim of improving people’s lives through learning.

During the first year of Catalyst we learned a number of vital lessons from working alongside startup companies. Perhaps most importantly, nothing is ever finished, especially in the fast-paced world of mobile development. Just as mobile technology provides constant access, customers expect mobile offerings to be constantly updated, which makes regular enhancements the norm. In a big company like Pearson that means we need to act more like our startup partners, focusing on the task at hand and rapidly iterating until a viable solution we can test is reached.

Diana Stepner

VP of Innovation Partnerships & Developer Relations

Pearson

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Throughout Catalyst, we run numerous mentoring sessions with the startups on everything from business development to raising capital. What we heard repeatedly was that the most valuable sessions were the ones that were tactical – how does a company develop a killer positioning statement; what are the specific opportunities to partner with Pearson and reach more customers; and, generally, how can startups balance PR and social marketing efforts with all of the work of building a product and running a business. This made it clear to us that, no matter how much preparation is done, execution is always key.

We are now into our second year running Catalyst, and we never stop learning. The new class of 2014 have been incredible, and we can’t wait to help see them through graduation and taking their companies forward another step into the future.

MGF14_meffys_728x90Diana Stepner is VP of Innovation Partnerships & Developer Relations at Pearson. She will be appearing next week at MEFGF14 in San Francisco, as a speaker in a session exploring the themes in this guest post, featuring several notable start-up pitchers as well as representatives from Stanford Graduate School of Education and Kaplan.

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