Big news for one of the hottest education technology startups. ClassDojo, a popular tool that helps you actually manage your classroom, has released its iOS app today. I spoke with the founder of ClassDojo, Sam Chaudhary, and he walked me through some of the best parts of the app and what it all means for teachers.
First off, let me just say that I’m blown away by one particular feature of the app. It’s not even visible in screenshots. It’s the ability to simply shake your iPhone and have ClassDojo select a student at random to call on or do something. Talk about ‘cold calling 2.0!’ It brings a whole new level of anxiety to the classroom (for the students) but assures teachers they’re selecting a truly randomized set of students every single day. Great to avoid the appearance of playing favorites.
So first things first. What is ClassDojo? Quite simply, it’s a classroom tool that helps teachers improve behavior in their classrooms quickly and easily. It also captures and generates data on behavior that teachers can share with parents and administrators. Better learning behaviors, smoother lessons and hassle-free data – and its free!
The big news of today though is the app. It’s also free and easy to use. Students and teachers alike can use it. It works on iPhones, iPads, and the iPod Touch. It mimics the abilities found on the web-based version of ClassDojo so all current users shouldn’t have much trouble.
The ClassDojo iOS app will make it quite easy for teachers to monitor and track behaviors in real time. The free app allows teachers to register for an account on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, set up and view all of their classes, and assign personalized avatars to each of their students.
The app was, according to Sam, at least a little bit inspired by 37Signals, one of the leaders in web-based collaboration tools. Not a bad place to draw from.
Teachers can walk around the classroom and reinforce positive behavior by awarding students with feedback in real-time. These feedback points are instantly displayed in the classroom with audio-visual cues allowing students to see how they are progressing individually and as a class.
ClassDojo for iOS also has a number of handy settings for teachers, including randomly selecting a student to call on, assigning points to one or multiple students, choosing the student display order, and synchronizing the student list for the day based on attendance.
ClassDojo automatically compiles all the data collected from each class into analytics reports, allowing teachers to monitor progress, track trends and share information with parents. In addition, students can reflect on their own behavior and track their progress.
“Real-time feedback like this, especially when used to provide consistent, positive reinforcement, has the power to influence future behavior,” says Sam Chaudhary, co-founder of ClassDojo. “This instant feedback loop helps students build the kinds of positive behaviors that promote learning. In the process, we’re taking on a frustrating pain point for teachers and turning it into a positive experience that benefits all”.
The free service also operates on the Web, allowing teachers to alternatively use a laptop, desktop computer, or any smartphone or tablet via Web browser. To date, over 3.5 million teachers and students have used the service and over 50 million feedback points have been awarded.
The platform has seen incredible viral growth with 20 thousand new teachers adopting the platform each month, as teachers spread ClassDojo by word-of-mouth and through social media channels.
Co-founders Sam Chaudhary and Liam Don, seed-funded by the education technology incubator ImagineK12, created the service after interviewing hundreds of teachers who reported behavior as their biggest problem in the classroom; forty percent of U.S. teachers said they spend more than half of their time managing behavior rather than teaching.
Teachers also reported they were unhappy that behavior management had become about discipline, obedience and punishment, rather than positive reinforcement and encouragement.
ClassDojo’s mission is to bridge this gap and address the “other half” of education that goes beyond building good test scores to building character strengths essential for lifetime success like creativity, leadership and perseverance.
The service has been embraced by teachers around the world, as well as high-profile technology and innovation investors like Ron Conway of SV Angel, Jeff Clavier of SoftTech, and Paul Graham, co-founder of Y-Combinator, who see ClassDojo filling a critical need that has been completely unaddressed by education technology. ClassDojo is free for teachers, and the company is dedicated to keeping it that way.