Chalkable Brings Apps, including Khan Academy Math, to Classrooms

8/21/12Follow @jpruth

With the fall semester just a bell ring away, educators and students will be faced with an onslaught of apps and software competing for spots in their computer desktops. New York’s Chalkable, a recent grad from the 500 Startups accelerator program, believes it can bring order to the crowded education technology space. Chalkable plans to launch its Web-based platform at some 50 high schools and middle schools in September offering teachers and administrators a simple way to discover, purchase, and install education apps for use in class.

Co-founder Zoli Honig says the Chalkable platform makes it easier to buy and install third-party education apps for one user or an entire school all at once. Thus far, education technology has been largely focused on learning management systems such as Blackboard Inc., the distribution of e-books, and connecting with tutors through online services such as Tutorspree in New York. Chalkable is a clearinghouse for finding and ordering third-party Web-based apps that students can use on tablets and computers. Honig says the platform can also handle certain administrative tasks such as recording grades and taking attendance.

Given rampant claims by app makers about revolutionizing classrooms through software, Honig says his company can help educators cut through the hype. “There is a lot of noise and news surrounding innovation in teaching,” he says. In spite of much hoopla in this space, Honig says for now apps remain on the fringe of education. “It’s not mainstream yet,” he says, however Chalkable is positioning its platform to be the destination teachers and administrators want when the technology is embraced more widely.

Momentum in education technology has been picking up, Honig says, especially in the past two years. “Khan Academy kind of kicked it off,” he says, referring to the provider of free online education. For Chalkable’s September launch, Honig says about a dozen Web-based apps will be available through his company’s platform. The apps will include Khan Academy Math, YouTube Education, Project Gutenberg’s library of more than 100,000 books, and BioDigital Human, which is a 3D animated model of human anatomy from New York’s BioDigital Systems. “We don’t want to step on anyone’s toes,” Honig says. “We don’t want to go against Khan Academy and start producing [our own] content.”

Chalkable charges schools $10 per student per year to use the platform. Half of that fee goes back to the schools towards purchases of apps from the store. Up to five teachers per … Next Page »

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth

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