Five Questions With: Jakob Garrow and Laura Wallendal

Co-founders of Betaspring alumnus EdTrips talk about the digital platform, which allows for the planning and organizing educational travel and field trips. More

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Five Questions With: Jakob Garrow and Laura Wallendal

"We're here to help teachers spend less time on paperwork and more time on learning."
Posted 4/23/14

Jakob Garrow and Laura Wallendal are the co-founders of EdTrips, a digital platform for planning and organizing educational travel and field trips and an alumnus of the Betaspring startup accelerator. Garrow serves as the company’s CEO while Wallendal is the chief operating officer of EdTrips.

Garrow and Wallendal spoke with Providence Business News about how EdTrips is changing the future of educational travel and where their company is headed next.

PBN: What is your experience in education travel, and what was your motivation for creating EdTrips?

GARROW and WALLENDAL: We worked at a major travel company, where we helped thousands of teachers plan trips with their students. Working with them taught us just how frustrating it was to organize school trips and we saw an incredible opportunity for improvement. We knew the process of booking student travel was broken, and we knew there was a much simpler way of doing it, so we set out to build it.

PBN: Why are field trips and educational travel programs critical for students?

GARROW and WALLENDAL: The University of Arkansas recently did a study that put it all in perspective. They found that taking just one field trip significantly increases students’ tolerance, empathy and critical thinking skills. Eighty-eight percent of students come away with stronger subject matter knowledge, too. Field trips are what most people remember from school. Everyone can benefit from outside the classroom experiences – not just kids but college students, as well.

PBN: Where does EdTrips fit within the larger movement to integrate technology into today’s schools and create “digital classrooms”?

GARROW and WALLENDAL: We’re not a digital classroom technology right now per se. Instead, we’re part of the movement to make teachers’ lives easier by empowering them with technology to relieve them of administrative overhead. There’s a tremendous amount of work that teachers do outside of class time, like grading and planning field trips. We’re here to help teachers spend less time on paperwork and more time on learning.

PBN: How does EdTrips help streamline the travel process for educators, students and families?

GARROW and WALLENDAL: EdTrips lets teachers search for the field trips that fit their grade level, subject and location. With our trip page, teachers can connect directly with parents and collect all the permission forms and payments online. This is a process that, done manually, takes something like three hours. Done online, it’s ten minutes. We did the math, and figured that in teacher labor-hours alone, we save upwards of $3 billion (with a “b”).

PBN: Where do you hope to see EdTrips five years from now, and how do you plan to get there?

GARROW and WALLENDAL: EdTrips will be the place to find educational activities both for your classroom and for your family.

We are partnering with field trip venues across the country to put our system in the hands of every teacher. We’re also working to become the go-to resource for everything field trip planning. We’re encouraging the whole field trip ecosystem – teachers, students, families, museum educators – to come together on our platform, so that we’re more than just another product; we’re a community that brings real value to education. We also are committed to listening to our teachers and venues to build the best possible product that meets their needs.

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