Inbloom, a $100-million nonprofit effort from the Gates Foundation, invited K-12 teachers and administrators to the Durham Convention center, where teams of computer hackers were given thousands of dollars of prize bait to build technology solutions on the Inbloom platform.
Over two years in the making and only publicly launched a few months ago, the Inbloom platform is a secure yet accessible database for student information that allows any company or small team to build web applications that will drive individualized learning for public school students.
Individualized learning is a major goal of the Gates Foundation, which has bet millions that Inbloom will provide a national solution to the expensive and thorny problems that public school IT managers face in having many different systems that can't talk to each other.
Lots of local talent was on hand building everything from learning game systems to tools that would let teachers and parents securely discuss students performance over the web.
Developer Jason Cameron even flew all the way from Missouri to work and compete. Cameron's district sent him in hopes that Inbloom will eventually go there to partner with them; Just like it has with Guilford Country Schools here in North Carolina.
"My bosses and I have been watching Inbloom for while, and coming here [to the RTP] was a great opportunity for us to try it out," he said.
His bosses are probably pretty happy they sent him too. Cameron came in second place and took home $2000 in cash for an application that allowed multi-language monitoring of students' grades.
It was local talent that ultimately took home first place, however. Team Thermometer built an application that allows teachers and parents to share and compare student performance graphically, as well as track their performance over time.
Built in just over 24 hours, Inbloom was impressed by Thermometer's ability to facilitate collaboration, and rewarded them with over $4000 in cash and services for their efforts.
Not bad for a day's work.
Ultimately, however, it will be teachers and students who should benefit from Inbloom and all of the software talent here in the RTP. If this past weekend was any indication, Inbloom's advances in education technology will be paying even greater dividends in North Carolina very soon.