The mission of edshelf is to make a positive impact in the world by helping educators and learners get the right tools into the right hands at the right time.
edshelf is a socially-curated discovery engine of websites, mobile apps, desktop programs, and electronic products for teaching and learning.
A Bit of History
In the winter of 2011, two educators told me how enthusiastically exasperated they were of the growing revolution of education technology. They wanted a simple way to know which tools were most effective for their needs. edshelf is the result of that collaboration. “Go build this please,” they said. In 2012, three friends and I did.
We got into the second cohort of the YC/Imagine K12 accelerator, spoke to educators around the country, visited as many classrooms as we could, and learned an incredible amount about the world of education technology. The growth of our membership was — and thankfully still is — a steady straight line up.
Our original approach was to raise funding from investors, but they did not believe our growth and product could translate into a massive ROI for them. Massive growth is not always realistic in education though; sometimes slow and steady is better. And for us, we were more interested in serving the education community than a financial ROI.
We looked at everything from grants to bank loans and everything in between, but unfortunately none of them worked out. The team eventually parted ways because their personal savings dried up. I stubbornly pressed on by myself for as long as I could, until I finally announced I had to shut edshelf down.
Then something amazing happened.
Educators rallied around a #saveedshelf hashtag. This cumulated into a successful Kickstarter campaign that gave edshelf a second lease on life. Thank you again, my generous backers! You all are amazing!
edshelf is now a solo effort, driven by passion and a desire to do good. I hope you find this service helpful.
My name is Mike Lee. I am a father and husband.
I consider myself an idealistic realist and humanistic technologist. That means I dream big and work hard on building concrete plans for achieving those dreams. I also believe technology should be focused around the interests, needs, and well-being of people.
In the past, I was a software engineer and technical manager at Yahoo!, product director at TripIt, and web designer at CBS. I like my t-shirts funny and my coffee black with sugar.
What Motivates Me
My primary motivation is my two daughters. Everything I do, I do for them.
Also, I have friends and family who are teachers and parents; they all navigate the world of education technology, blindly wading through hundreds of thousands of options. We all frustratingly sift through pools of tools before finding a few pearls. There has got to be a better way.
Then one day, a public high school teacher told me about a student who was kicked out of his house, on probation, and told by his parents that he will never amount to anything. This teacher saw this student’s potential and encouraged him to work hard and build strong study habits. Two years later, the teacher received this letter from the student:
Well, the time has finally come. I’m applying for college! But truth is, I would have never thought I’d be applying for college at the beginning of sophomore year. Your class was the only one I got an A in and it’s when I knew science was my calling. I had all that family BS and was getting kicked out all the time. You always pushed me to my fullest and showed me how sweet the end result of hard work in class feels like. I got my first A of high school in your class and found my calling in life. Coming from where I come from, finding a calling in life isn’t easy. I appreciate every thing you’ve done for me. Thanks again.
Educators can and already do make a difference.
Technology is merely a tool. The right technology in the right hands and used at the right time can be very powerful, but it is still just a tool.
I don’t want educators to waste time looking for the right tools. I want them to focus on doing what they do best: teaching and inspiring. Let edshelf do the work of helping you find the right tools, while you educate the next generations.
And that is part of how I hope to make a positive impact on the world, a better world for my daughters.
edshelf is free to parents & educators. I earn an income from the merchants listed on this site. This sometimes raises questions about the quality of edshelf’s recommendations and search results, so here is my pledge to you:
- edshelf will NEVER alter its recommendations based on payments from merchants.
- edshelf will NEVER alter its search results based on payments from merchants.
- edshelf will NEVER sell your contact information to merchants.
- All sponsored links and messages will be clearly marked.
In short, I follow the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” I wouldn’t use a service that violates the above pledge, and wouldn’t expect you to either. The lack of an unbiased way to find the most effective tools for education is exactly why we need services like this.