Tools Competition on the Road: An events recap from the 2022-23 competition

The 2022-23 Tools Competition has been an especially exciting one! For the first time since the competition launched in 2020, we were able to organize meet-ups to gather in-person with members of this community. 

These events took place all over the world – from Austin, Texas to Singapore – and were an opportunity for our community to grow and get to know one another, for organizers to share more about the vision for the competition, and for new competitors to meet previous winners and learn about their experiences and tools. 

As we get closer to naming winners of the 2022-23 competition, our team is reflecting on the many incredible competitors we met this past year. We recognize and appreciate the tremendous work that everyone put into their proposals, and more importantly, into alleviating some of the challenges that we face in education. 

Scroll on to see snapshots and read about the highlights from our in-person 2022-23 Tools Competition events!  

We kicked off the 2022-23 Tools Competition in September with a launch at EdTech Week (New York, NY). 

We partnered with EdTech Week to launch the third cycle of the Tools Competition in September 2022. We met ed tech leaders from around the world in a series of events, including: 

  • A virtual launch event featuring keynote speaker Jack Buckley (Head of People Science and Analytics, Roblox) and Tools Competition sponsors.
  • A virtual masterclass highlighting ed tech products that are successfully incorporating learning engineering principles led by Kumar Garg (Vice President of Partnerships, Schmidt Futures). 
  • A happy hour that included participation from former winners like Yoshi Okamoto (SmartPaper) and Kristina Cordero (formerly of Beereaders), and 2022-23 finalists such as Vidya Raman (RoundEd Learning). We discussed the competitor and winners experience, learned about the goals of the 2022-23 competition, and mingled with individuals interested in ed tech. 

In October, we met innovators in the Start-Up Village at EDUtech-Europe (Amsterdam). 

In partnership with EDUtech Europe, we hosted a networking reception featuring: 

  • 2021 Tools Competition winner Nathnael Endeshaw, who spoke about his solution, Botter, a platform for creating interactive online courses delivered inside popular messaging apps, and its impact.
  • Competition sponsors and organizers, who shared about the vision for this year’s competition. 

EDUtech Europe was notably the first international Tools Competition event, and allowed us to meet with and learn from many competitors, such as 2022-23 Tools Competition finalist, John Heine (Poktu). 

In November we continued the international journey and learned from local entrepreneurs at EdTech Asia (Singapore).

Across two days at the EdTech Asia conference, we had the opportunity to meet people at a number of events, including: 

  • A keynote session on the evolution of the Tools Competition from a pandemic response meeting the need to address learning loss to an annual competition addressing pressing issues in education..
  • A conference session with competition sponsors, organizers, and 2021 Tools Competition winner Yoshi Okamoto,  that explored why learning engineering is the future of ed tech and highlighted the impact of innovative solutions such as Okamoto and his team’s tool, SmartPaper. 
  • A networking reception where we met many entrepreneurs, including 2022-23 Tools Competition finalist Shun Matsuzaka (Toy Eight).

We also met with innovators in education representing 25 different countries at the mEducation Alliance Symposium (Washington D.C.) in November. 

At the symposium, our team led a keynote session focused on the 2022-23 Tools Competition, and met first-time competitors such as 2022-23 finalist Yevgen Borodin (Capti), and returning competitors such as finalist Anthony Bloome (Mobiles for Education Alliance). 

A highlight of the mEducation Alliance Symposium was the opportunity to meaningfully engage with other attendees during gallery walks, exhibits, and presentations over the course of three days. The above picture includes a 2020 Tools Competition winner, Lauren Lichtman (Learning Equality);  a 2022-23 finalist, Abdulhamid Haider (Darsel);  and a member of the Tools Competition team! 

Last but not least, at SXSW EDU (Austin, TX) in March 2023, we hosted a happy hour that brought together a variety of stakeholders from the Tools Competition community. 

We built on the excitement of SXSW EDU, where many members of the Tools Competition and Learning Engineering communities were gathered in Austin, TX, to organize a happy hour to meet in person and celebrate the growth of this amazing community. We were thrilled to host many new and existing members of the community, such as:

  • Competition Sponsors, including: Tanya Beja (AlleyCorp);  Kumar Garg (Schmidt Futures); Edward Hui (Walton Family Foundation);
  • Academic partner of the Tools Competition Katie McCarthy (Georgia State University)
  • Former Tools Competition winners, including: Anissa Rodriguez Dickerman (Teaching Lab); Aly Murray (UPchieve);  Yoshi Okamoto (SmartPaper); Michelle Shah (Uplift K12); and Sinclair Wu (RightOn)
  • 2022-23 Tools Competition finalists, including: Alvin Irby (Barbershop Books); Claire Smith (KidKred); Krissy Taft (KidKred)

The happy hour was also attended by current and former competitors, researchers, judges, and competition organizers. The evening was filled with great conversation and networking, and was an exciting end to our first year of in-person events. 

As we close out the 2022-23 competition cycle, we are already starting to look ahead. Our community is growing, and we hope to continue to engage with many of you in the future! Be sure to follow us on Twitter @ToolsCompete to stay informed about upcoming events – both virtual and in-person. 


Meet the finalists for the Building an Adaptive & Competitive Workforce track here. Meet the finalists for all other tracks here.