edtech pr

EdTech180 Brings Global Perspective to Edtech PR

Boston’s edtech industry gained a new force this year as edtech PR company EdTech180 launched last month, promising to tell companies’ stories more effectively. Dedicated to representing edtech companies exclusively, its first seven clients include LearnLaunch, Authess, uConnect, Facing History and Ourselves, Israel-based Contextors, and LearnBop. This week, the company signed Florida-based Link-System as its eighth client.

Josef Blumenfeld founded EdTech180 out of a dissatisfaction with the industry’s communication services, after years of experience at education powerhouses Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Cengage.

“The PR firms that are out there now are not providing the right level or type of service to the edtech space,” Blumenfeld said. “They may have education background or expertise. They may have technology expertise, but what they’re all lacking is real deep understanding of edtech.”

We often forget that education and technology are two very different industries, Blumenfeld reminds us. “People tend to think edtech merges into one another seamlessly and comfortably. In terms of impact, technology has a massive impact in education, but in terms of culture, those cultures couldn’t be more dissimilar,” he said.

Education’s slow, lumbering pace is consensus-driven and dependent on students who don’t learn in a quarter. Technology companies on the other hand, are investment-driven, exit-focused, and constantly pursuing data and metrics that cannot determine how a child is learning. “There’s a real clash of cultures that I believe is preventing greater understanding and promotion in this industry,” said Blumenfeld.

“There are solutions out there that we could learn from if the United States would look outside itself a little bit more.”

Blumenfeld received his bachelor’s degree in organizational communication from Emerson College and studied international communication at American University. He believes his experience working in 39 countries gives his company a perspective beyond the domestic lens prevalent in the United States.

“Edtech is a perfect example of something global in impact,” he said. “Unfortunately, the U.S. industry tends to be very domestic in its view. We don’t look outside the U.S. for solutions or for what works.”

“Conversely, the rest of the world doesn’t really look to the U.S. for what works. It’s very insular.”

His favorite industry conference is the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in Qatar because of its international scope on education. “They’re able to figure out how to educate millions of kids on construction sites in India,” said Blumenfeld.

“There are solutions out there that we could learn from if the United States would look outside itself a little bit more.”

To hear more of Blumenfeld’s analysis of the edtech industry, listen to our interview below.

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Jennifer Ortakales

Jennifer Ortakales

Jennifer is a Boston-based freelance journalist who has covered emerging fashion and New York Fashion Week for Papercut magazine. When she isn't talking people's ears off, she studies art history and reconstructs thrift clothes into her own designs.