How to Disrupt Education

by Chris Alexander, UX Designer at LePort Labs

Those of us who work in software have internalized the idea that technology, in and of itself, is the key to disrupting every industry. Netflix shook up the entertainment industry by using the Internet to subvert traditional distribution channels. Uber, with a well-designed app that serves both riders and drivers, is revolutionizing the taxi industry. So now the thinking goes: take an industry, apply an incredible app, and viva la revolución.

In education, this means hardware and software is often thought of as a means to leapfrog over bad pedagogical methods and shoddy curricula. Just get iPads and feature-rich apps into the classroom, people think, and it won’t matter as much how good the teacher is. Or, better yet, just leave the student alone, immersed in an online adaptive learning environment: then we can cut out the teacher and pedagogical research teams entirely!

But what if the key to good educational technology is the kind of pedagogical framework it supports? The kind of school system it supports? The quality of teachers it supports? The notion seems to deflate the whole premise of ed tech — of using technology itself as a lever to move the world of education.

But that’s precisely how we at LePort Labs like to think about our work.

LePort Labs is the custom software development arm for LePort Schools, a national network of private schools. The Labs’ mission is to use software to make a smarter breed of school — not skirt schools entirely.

We’re an engine running inside LePort Schools, created to make it better. This makes us different to most educational technology startups, because our products are grounded in a specific pedagogy — specifically, in LePort’s Montessori-based approach to education. Our main offices are even above real classrooms, and we’re constantly interacting with LePort’s teachers, administrators, and curriculum experts.

A key aspect of LePort School’s programs is the extent to which LePort’s teachers individualize their entire approach based on the needs of each unique student. LePort Labs’ software is now being built from the ground up to support that kind of individualization on a deeper, richer level than has ever been possible.

Moreover, we respect and incorporate the expertise of the curriculum developers at LePort. Unlike most MOOC-based and adaptive-learning startups that focus on K-12 educational tools, we don’t think childhood education is ready to be taken out of the classroom and away from expert teachers. Instead, our software is built to aid LePort’s teachers and administrators in the work of individualizing correctly for each child — by giving them access to sophisticated data, tools, and resources that wouldn’t be available to them without rich, adaptive software.

And unlike other startups that focus primarily on putting tablets and cool tech tools in the classroom — but are entirely curriculum-agnostic — we know our products are only as good as the quality of the educational approach underlying them.

This means LePort Labs is in a unique position to make educational software that actually works to deliver high-quality education to each individual child — not by trying to leapfrog specific pedagogy and curricula, but by working to help apply it better.

The quality of our work at LePort Labs is fused entirely with LePort Schools’ singular approach to education. LePort Labs would be nothing without the correct curriculum to mold our products around; we’d simply be another Ed Tech startup, lost in a sea of them.

Instead, we think our particular approach — software that’s deferent to the right pedagogy — is the recipe for success in Ed Tech, and will lead to some amazing products.

We still believe in the power of software to do great things — indeed, to shake up entire industries, including education. Just as good software requires good pedagogy, a truly world-changing educational approach also requires great software to help it along. That’s exactly what LePort Labs has been created to deliver.

Do you like the sound of what LePort Labs is doing?

Want to come join us and shake up education? We’re a global, work-from-anywhere team and we’re currently hiring!

Check out our Careers Page for more details.