Edmodo's K-12 Social Network Helps Teachers Connect with Students---and One Another

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school districts and administrations that can be slow to take action, Borg says. “We’re working on a space that’s been traditionally difficult to change, and really using this bottom up pressure from the user base to accelerate that change.”

Getting the product into teachers’ hands has been and continues to be the company’s biggest challenge. That’s a big part of the reason that the service has been free for both teachers and students from the beginning. “Right now to grow quickly in the space, it’s all about going directly to the teachers with something free they can adopt tomorrow, and then bring into their classroom,” Borg says.

Edmodo’s investors are on board with the free-to-play philosophy. “All the investors believe in network effects and really building a free platform that gets into every classroom,” Borg says. “Given how fractured the education space is, especially around the types of platforms being used for distributing content, it’s really difficult for rapid innovation to take place and for teachers to quickly discover and use new services.” It’s already a challenge to get widespread adoption of a new technology in K-12 classrooms, so it’s important not to add the extra hurdle of subscription fees-and the bureaucracy that comes with them, he says. “The focus for us is about absolutely always being a free platform.”

So far, Borg says he hasn’t seen any direct competition. Though there have been a fair number of first- and second-generation education content distribution systems, he can’t point to any that are K-12-focused social networks. The company plans to stay focused on K-12 schools, but Borg says the company does have a few higher education users on the network.

Three years after launch, Edmodo continues to get daily feedback about what features teachers would like to see added or changed, but also stories about how the social network has helped students in the classroom. About once a week, Borg says, the startup gets a thank you note from a teacher who says that a certain student who isn’t comfortable speaking up in the classroom is opening up online.

That kind of validation is important to the company’s 35 employees and its co-founders—first-time entrepreneurs who are really looking to make a difference.

“I’m just really excited to be working in a space that has such a profound impact,” Borg says. “If we begin to help create the tools that enable teachers to fix what’s going on in the classroom, we fix other parts of society as well.”

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  • http://www.aroundtheworldin80Days2012.com Steven Rafter

    Great Article! I have been using Edmodo in my school… I have made heaps of mistakes with it and have seen, first hand, the improvement in learning outcomes of my class – particularly Students who don’t always feel comfortable or confident within the school environment. I am learning just as much as my students – but in a different way. I would suggest to any teacher to have a go at it – if you want to begin by yourself – start by connecting with other teachers and then introduce it to your class – YOU CAN’T BREAK IT! The kids will be teaching you quicker than you know… I am so impressed with it I am undertaking a research project into the link between the transformation of knowledge and improved learning outcomes… cheers Steven Rafter

  • Meredith Harris

    I have been using Edmodo for over a year. I led my school in adopting it school-wide, not just to use with students, but as a really effective professional learning community.

    It has been a big question: where does Edmodo get its money? You’ve answered that here, but only in part…what is bringing a return on investor’s money? There is no advertising (that I’ve noticed)…

    This is actually really important to a lot of folks. Before you bring your class online with this, you kinda wanna know what you’re getting into…

  • http://simplybax.edublogs.org/ Bakary Singhateh

    I am impressed with your initiative, so I thought it important to let you know that you are heard of the world over. I live in the Gambia, West Africa. Currently, I an Instructor/Lecturer at the University of The Gambia – School of Education.

    As we speak now, my professional ambition is to see to it that Gambian Teachers are computer literate,this way, they will be able to benefit from the online professional networks of teachers and students across the world.

    It’s a new era, characterized by availability of new tools on the web 2.0 platform, most of them free and shared by professionals around the world; tools which will be of immense help in the hands of Gambian teachers to better deliver educational services more effectively. Therefore, I strongly believe Gambian teachers would inevitable need to employ new teaching and learning styles.

    In fact, the Gambia government is currently reviewing its higher education policy, and I am hoping the new policy will put these concerns on board.

    Notwithstanding, I am going to use any available opportunity I have to, even if it means creating it, to add my little and lonely voice to see to it that our education system responds to the emerging educational trends in our society. Estimates about the number of teachers in the Gambia who are not computer literate is more than 75%, but the possibility is there to change this trend.

    Through collaboration, consultations, research, and training, a new direction in education better suited for the new generation of learners in The Gambia is attainable. I am therefore launching an appeal to Edmodo for suggestions, expert opinion, collaboration, networking, exposure to seminars/conferences etc. in a bid to start/trigger the beginning of the transformation of our educational system. Like I said earlier, I can’t do it all by myself; but I need your collaboration to launch this important initiative.

    Best Regards

    Bakary

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