When Innovation and Education Intersect: the Story of Edmodo
For the past two decades, almost every western government has tried to implement a top – down approach to develop the connectivity of their education systems. From coding classes to IT investments, most of them were eventually abandoned a few years later, as they couldn’t adapt to every school structure and teacher’s habits of knowledge sharing. Edmodo, a privately owned network, takes innovation to the next level in the education system. The premise is simple; educators, parents, and students stay consistently connected and updated with available lesson plans, assignments, event schedules, and more. Created by Nic Borg, Jeff O’hara, and Crystal Hutter, Edmodo now has 61 million members augmenting in-class learning and expanding the realm of the classroom.
How did Edmodo get started?
Edmodo was founded in 2009 by two folks from a school district in the Midwest, near Chicago. They wanted to compensate the lack of IT workflow between teachers, students and administration, and started to design the platform that Edmodo became.
What is Edmodo’s mission and how do you plan on accomplishing that?
The whole goal was to create a safe and private environment which connects teachers with their students and their peers, all within one workflow. Our primary goal to is to help all learners: students, of course, but also teachers through what we call ‘professional development’: they belong to communities and groups to share their experience and knowledge.
The computer is not ‘used in a closet’ in schools anymore, its become a central tool in the learning process.
What has been the most exciting experience you have had while involved in Edmodo?
I have been in the tech space for about 20 years, and I must say I have been surprised how much bottom-up growth this company has had. It’s one of the best things to see that a whole active community adopts and shares the product you’re working on: the computer is not ‘used in a closet’ in schools anymore, it’s become a central tool in the learning process. And all that has been done only because teachers themselves have adopted our product.
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So, you’ve only worked on a grassroot growth? You don’t have a more global development strategy, as with school institutions for example?
For the first few years, we focused mostly on the grassroot growth of the product: teachers using Edmodo and passing the word to their peers. But two years ago, we started to work on agreements with larger organizations, and these efforts have picked up a few months ago. The largest teachers union in Mexico has adopted Edmodo for their professional development.
Do you plan on integrating Edmodo into colleges and master programs?
We don’t have plans for the current time period. But it is a question of focus. There are over a billion students in the world between kindergarten and 12th grade. Some of them are not connected to the internet yet, but the market is still huge, and we want to be the best for this segment. On the other side, the college learning structure is very different, it is mainly organized around courses, which makes the sharing between teachers a lot more complicated.
What has been the feedback that you have received from the students?
In 6 years, we gathered 60 million users on our platform, with 90% of them being students. The feedback we’ve had is that they find it very simple, some of them even compare it to a ‘learning Facebook’. (laughs). But mainly, users tend to like the fact that it keeps all their work organized for them, and that it’s completely private.
What is planned in the future for Edmodo?
We have now built a very strong userbase all around the world, and a good part of them are assessed by their teachers on our network. We realized recently that this forms an amazing database for education analytics. Our goal in the future is to help teachers solve their student’s issues and struggles through the data that we globally collect out of the assessments.