Technology enters the school classroom with developments by startups that bring a fresh approach to traditional education. By creating community involvement that encourages participation through innovative concepts, startups in educational tech (edtech) have opportunities to grow. They provide access to examining the traditional methods of teaching and replace some of the ineffective practices with creative and efficient ones. Investors are putting their money to work in edtech in a reversal of a decline in funding that reached a low point in 2016 after a high of $1.5 billion in 2015.
Recognizing Creative Startups
Investors’ funds allow LittleBits to develop an innovative approach to computer programming that teaches young students how to code communication devices. Students in grades K-6 can learn math, science, social studies and more on Nearpod’s interactive platform that features 3D images and virtual reality to capture youngsters’ interests. With support from edtech investors, Classcraft makes learning fun by incorporating aspects of gaming that enhance the curriculum. Ground-up change can occur when professionals combine resources with parents to improve the learning environment.
Meeting the Demands
Through connection and empowerment, successful startup companies and the entrepreneurs who lead them develop tools that improve the ease of learning. Creating a positive culture with classrooms and schools enriches the return on investment for sponsors and enhances technology for teachers and parents as well as students. ClassDojo passes the test of providing a solution to actual problems that teachers face in the classroom. Founder Sam Chaudhary benefits from listening to the teachers, parents and students to find out what they want. A hurdle that his company’s software clears is the ability to let parents know about student progress without resorting to the parent-teacher conference that everyone dreads.
The ClassDojo communication platform software lets teachers connect with parents to build innovative school-based virtual communities. Teachers can use internet-connected phones and tablets to implement the company’s Toolkit to create groups of students, set up background music, provide explanations for activities and more. The innovative software frees a teacher to walk about the classroom and control focus areas through a phone. Parents can log in to get visual confirmation of their student succeeding or having problems with math or something else. Most products that intend to make teaching less burdensome and more efficient fail, but ClassDojo has a high level of support within the K-8 community.
Developing Concepts within Accelerators
Entrepreneurs in edtech benefit from accelerators that offer a place for product development, funding and testing grounds. The Curry School at the University of Virginia has an excellent record of providing a jumpstart for entrepreneurs in a protected environment. The match between a helpful product and an entrepreneur’s ideas requires finetuning that organizations such as LEAP Innovations provide. It lets teachers find the technology that works for them while allowing startups to identify the audience that needs their products.
Implementing Classroom Technology
The modernization of classrooms allows more than 2 in 3 schools to have access to broadband internet. The E-Rate program helped establish it in rural schools as well as those in highly populated areas. While not every teacher adapts immediately to expanded use of technology, the access to it makes acceptance possible eventually. Edtech companies understand the need for teachers to have consistent support while they adapt to new teaching methods. Teachers know what works in their classrooms and what does not, and they maintain high standards that startup entrepreneurs must meet to obtain their approval. Venture investments help companies develop new products, but acceptance by users takes time.
Focusing on a Goal
The mission of the ClassDojo software is to provide the stakeholders in a child’s education with the ability to create innovative and creative classrooms. From its founding in 2011 with a base in San Francisco, the company builds software that helps students acquire social-emotional skills. Its interactive approach lets parents, teachers and students enjoy contact throughout the day with messages, videos and photos. The national acceptance of the software by millions of teachers, parents and students in 90 percent of kindergartens as well as elementary and middle schools confirms its efficacy. Its outstanding qualities make it the choice of schools in 180 other countries. The development of ClassDojo by educators, engineers and designers who have expertise in social media and a range of computer applications forms a basis for its widespread acceptance.
Obtaining Funding for Edtech Development
The parent-teacher conference is probably one of the most dreaded events of the entire school year, and adults may hate it almost as much as they detest an annual performance appraisal at work. The ClassDojo software addresses the offensive nature of the conference directly by making it unnecessary. The innovative app enables communication between parents, teachers and students throughout the year and allows observation of classroom activities and a child’s participation.
By providing a much more transparent assessment of a child’s performance, it gives parents a factual basis of understanding and relieves teachers of the burden of an onerous task. The company’s founders, Liam Don and Sam Chaudhary, continue the development of their team with the funding of $21 million. The 25-employee company has not yet generated revenue. The funds that the company has raised for its software development amounts to $31 million in venture funds, and it has emerged from Imagine K12, its edtech accelerator, to join the Y Combinator organization.
The exploration into selecting content and features that enhance the software’s range of services lets the team focus on new ways to improve them. Parents may use the app at home as a practical tool, and enhancements may allow them to buy content that promotes learning out of school. The convenience of using phones to pay for school lunches, supplies or field trips may encourage parents to use it as a secure way to deliver funds safely to school instead of cash or a check that may never make it to the desired destination.
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