Startup Angel:

This is a very positive development for the ed-reform movement, but it strikes me as about as likely to succeed as a bank robber paying SunTrust to allow him to tunnel into the their safe. Sure they get $25K now, but they may find that down the road, people use the bank less often. SIS vendors have built nearly impenetrable walls around their systems, leveraging the fear and paranoia associated with issues such as student privacy and data security, because that allows them to continue extracting rents from their captive users, without having to innovate. Nimble start-ups like Clever, Learnsprout and others are creating ways to circumvent the stranglehold the SIS vendors have had on school districts, and it’s refreshing to learn that a Goliath like Pearson is willing to give a slingshot to a David, like Schoology. Fire away!

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Last year, we saw momentum build for open data in education with the launch of data startups LearnSprout and Clever, the creation of the non-profit Shared Learning Collaborative and the release of more government education datasets. But New York-based Schoology wants to step on the gas and is putting up $250,000 to do it.

On Tuesday, the company, which provides a cloud-based learning management system and social network for schools, said that it was challenging Student Information Systems (SISes) to create APIs (application programming interfaces) to promote the open exchange of data. To date, few SISes, which store all kinds of information about students — from grades and attendance records, to addresses and more — have released APIs. That means that when ed tech companies want to bring new tools to the classroom, they have to integrate with each district individually in a potentially tedious, weeks-long process. Clever and…

View original 244 more words

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About Startup Angel

Gordon is a 25 year veteran of start-ups in the field of digital education and learning management, having founded an e-learning software company (Meliora Systems) in1988. He took the start-up from the bootstrapped stage to an IPO in 1998, through a merger with Paul Allen’s company, Asymetrix Learning, now part of SumTotal Systems, a leading LMS provider. Since leaving the company in 2000, he has spent his time working with early stage ventures in the ed-tech sector, including both K-12 and higher-ed markets, as well as start-ups developing innovative offerings in the digital publishing, virtual worlds/MMO games for kids, and mobile learning areas. He is also a mentor at Georgia Tech's ATDC as well as Managing Director of Vernon Bridge Ventures, an early stage capital/advisory firm. He serves on the advisory boards of Excelegrade, Evirx, Rapid LD, and Proving Ground. He is also Past President of Atlanta Technology Angels. He serves on the selection committees for Venture Atlanta and TAG Top 40. He also serves as a guest lecturer and business plan competition judge at Georgia State, Emory and University of Georgia business schools. He has made angel investments in mobile learning, online language training and employee wellness companies, and in virtual world start-ups.
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One Response to

  1. I was surprised to learn of the write-back capability. Doesn’t this effectively reduce PowerSchool to a simple database used by a small group of administrators? If I’m reading this right, schools could potentially now use whatever gradebook and parent portal they prefer. It’s hard to believe, but encouraging to see that Pearson might be willing to forfeit the eyes and ears of all those millions of teachers, parents and students.

    However, we should keep in mind that Pearson is not giving access away. Vendors must typically pay to play by joining Pearson’s ISV program: http://powerschool.com/partners/current/

    One advantage to LearnSprout is that it’s not limited to what is provided by the SIS developer (typically the provided API, FTP Autosend or what can be scraped off a web page). LearnSprout establishes a direct database connection and is able to access ALL data within the SIS.

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