Startup Spotlight: social learning space Edmodo
Does social media have a place in K-12 classrooms?
Many schools today block or limit access to popular social networking platforms and video sites. This is what inspired Nic Borg and Jeff O’Hara to begin building Edmodo in late 2008.
“When I got the idea for Edmodo, I was working with a school district and their IT department, and I was having to block a lot of social networking and video sites,” O’Hara said in a video on Edmodo’s site. “That’s when I felt that education really needed a place that it could call its own.”
The result of O’Hara’s epiphany was Edmodo, a free online social learning and communications network that provides teachers and students a safe and secure place to connect, collaborate, share content, and access grades, homework, and class discussions across both mobile and web platforms.
What began as a nights-and-weekends project in O’Hara’s basement has grown substantially over the last year, culminating in a December announcement that Edmodo had raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Greylock Partners and Benchmark Capital. This round of funding is being put towards hiring engineering talent and scaling the platform, according to TechCrunch.
This month at SXSW, Edmodo announced that it would open its API to third–party and independent web developers, whose educational applications could be delivered to teachers and students on the Edmodo platform. So far, they have about 40 featured partners who offer their apps through Edmodo, including BrainNook, LearnBop, and Late Nite Labs. By connecting apps with the site, Edmodo aims to save teachers time transferring information from one resource to another. It’s important to note, however, that many of these apps are paid, with Edmodo charging its partners 15 percent of their fees.
Although Edmodo caters to students and schools, individual teachers have been leading its growth. For the most part, adoption has been at the grassroots level, with teachers opting to use the site, rather than schools or districts mandating Edmodo’s use. Features of the platform have been driven by teacher feedback, and soon, Edmodo will launch a Teacher-Developer Exchange, so that educators can also provide their valued opinions to app developers looking to bring their tools to Edmodo’s community.
“We see this as a real catalyst for new and better types of content to be created, as well as a way to shift away from more paper worksheets and assessments to actual learning objects that are interactive and provide meaningful data back to teachers,” Borg recently told Fast Company.
Teachers: We want to hear from you. Are you using Edmodo? If so, what have been its greatest benefits to you and your students?