Democratizing Education Technology
Today, we’re announcing an investment in Schoology, a next generation collaborative learning platform that combines the elements of a learning management system, a social networking platform, and enterprise resource system all in one hyper-intuitive interface.
I’ve known the Schoology team for some time, having spent the last year getting to know them. It’s a testament to the power of building enduring relationships. We’ve had a clear set of mutual expectations of what we were driving towards and it all finally came together. It is a fantastic team and I am amazed at the power and complexity of the system they have built in the short while they have been around. The uptake has been tremendous for good reason.
Teachers can sign up for the platform in under a minute and have the best in modern technologies available to them, for free! Teachers can easily invite students into the system using a unique access code. From there, the sky is the limit. Teachers can build a curriculum, create lesson plans, build tests and quizzes, have students submit homework into a dropbox, grade assignments, see classroom analytics, encourage students groups formation for peer learning, and much more. In addition, teachers can collaborate with one another and share content. Pushes us one step further towards the notion of Open Educational Resources. Teachers can also add apps, such as plagiarism checks, directly into their workflow. All this with a Facebook like interface that requires no training.
The best part of the system is that technology selection has been completely democratized to the actual users. Schoology does not spend months and years convincing heads of a system as to whether the technology suits their needs. Users simply adopt it. Upon seeing users within a system grow naturally, Schoology has the privilege of notifying districts or universities about additional capabilities available to them with a few clicks of a button. Schoology can also enable powerful integrations with existing legacy systems. No more promises of what can be, no vaporware, no millions of dollars spent on configuration and changes.
The platform also has transformational capabilities. Because it is social at its core, it benefits from powerful network effects. With nearly 1 million users already on the platform across 18,000 K-20 and higher education schools, you can bring the power of a developer community to build on the platform. Content can be built, shared and purchased directly from within. Teachers can be given micro-credits to personalize the system for their needs. Parents can be invited to participate in the educational process. It is truly a radical shift.
And it’s not just schools that can leverage the technology. Any institution that views training and learning critical is a potential customer. In addition to schools, corporations have signed up to use it internally. One of the largest corporate users is Groupon, which uses the platform for field sales training. They have their proprietary materials that need to be mastered and tested and revisted regularly to ensure a well trained team.
The next generation of education will bring stark changes: transition to digital textbooks and content, movement towards adaptive learning, advancement of the flipped classroom. But most powerful of all is potentially the technology platform that connects it and us all together. Schoology represents just that. We’re thrilled to be involved with the team.