How many district-wide learning management systems (LMS) are purchased and rolled out with fanfare but go poorly used?
Launched in Ontario in 2010, Edsby is aiming at the EdTech holy grail–a great learning platform for K-12 schools that is popular with students and parents, yet lets districts enforce policies and regional educational standards. Built by the enterprise technologists that developed the FirstClass email and groupware system still popular in K-12, the founders know scalable reliable backend systems.
The core premise of Edsby, the CoreFour platform, is “mobile and personalized” because that’s what students and parents demand these days said Scott Welch, VP Sales.
“Teachers can’t be expected to be technology integrators,” said Welch. Edsby is designed for schoolwide and districtwide use–and it supports all the integrations necessary to support high utilization rates.
The nine core features include: social classroom, school news, attendance, group collaboration, gradebook, report cards, timetable and calendar, course planning, and analytics.
Last January, the company announced it had concluded a round of funding led by MindAngler Capital and supported by the Nancy Knowlton and David Martin, co-founders of SMART Technologies. Formed in 2010, the company has about 20 employees. Renowned educational researcher Michael Fullan recently joined the board–another signal that these guys are serious about learning.
Not a higher education retrofit, Edsby was designed for K-12 schools. Users include US and Canadian public and private schools. The largest district customer is Hillsborough Florida, which adopted Edsby in 2013 for its more than a quarter of a million users. Over 80% of staff members use the platform. Almost two thirds of students logged in last month.
Even though the platform was designed for mobile use, Scott finds recent use stats surprising. In Hillsborough, 47% of the use is mobile only, only 9% use the web app primarily. Parent use is almost exclusively mobile.
The student view resembles the familiar Facebook feed. Parents can log in and see the same view as students.
Course planning makes it easy for teachers to build standards-aligned tasks and projects, and to make and manage assignments.
The Edsby gradebook will be updated in September to be more standards-based. In addition to content knowledge, it currently allows teachers to assess work skills such as initiative, collaboration, and self-regulation.
“Building capacity and collaboration” are big priorities said Welch. Edsby auto populates groups from districts’ existing systems and makes it easy for educators to build professional learning communities.
Teachers can capture private observation and selectively share those with other teachers. Students can add artifacts to their portfolio to be shared privately with their teachers and parents.
After initial integration, the platform is priced from $4 per student and staff account per year. Parent accounts are free.
Edsby has strong integration with Google Drive, Office 365 and existing district-wide user authentication and student information systems.