LearnBoost Bets on Better Tools for Teachers

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an emphasis on contributing basic components of the software to the open source community around the basic software components—the better to draw in high-powered software development talent.

LearnBoost’s open source technologies include Mongoose, an interface for the popular MongoDB document-oriented database, and Socket.io, a client for connecting Web servers. Both are optimized for simplicity and speed. Corrales says more than 800 developers are following the two projects on GitHub, a popular software repository.

“By open sourcing Socket.io and Mongoose, we have a ton of people adding back to our code, so it’s extending our resources,” says Corrales. “Then there are two other benefits. The visibility in the technical community helps with recruiting—we’ve had amazing resumes come our way. And these technologies are powering education. Teachers don’t see the code, but they do see that the website is ridiculously fast and that the application works incredibly well.”

Teachers who have seen the latest versions of LearnBoost’s gradebook have reacted with “Multiple wows,” Corrales says. That may be because they’re not used to being lavished with the kind of attention software developers usually reserved for big consumer markets.

“Gradebooks have been a mostly ignored space,” says Corrales. “Blackboard doesn’t really need to innovate, Pearson doesn’t really need to innovate, because those guys are already huge, multi-billion-dollar companies. But we want to move things forward.”

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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