ClassDojo founders Sam Chaudhary, Liam Don and their team of developers have announced the much anticipated premium content they’ve talked about before is now here. Thanks to a recent $35 million round of venture funding, they will now add Beyond School as an extra purchase feature to their main app. What this will do is add some learning tools for students to use under the guidance of their parents while they’re outside the class and tackle homework assignments. Teachers had been requesting a few extra options like this to cover learning areas that they weren’t quite able to address with students on their time. The latest funding for the Beyond School features now puts ClassDojo at a valuation somewhere near $400 million.
Chaudhary and Don started this app because they believed so much more could be done to improve education in much the same way other apps from Silicon Valley were disrupting major economic sectors. They didn’t know exactly what they should do to make an effective app for teachers, so they visited a convention to get ideas directly from the teachers themselves. Initially what they came up with was a behavior points award system for encouraging good behavior from students, but they started building onto that and in a few years had practically their own classroom Facebook platform. But unlike the issues facing social media companies regarding data privacy and selling it off to advertisers, ClassDojo doesn’t do any of that and they’ve introduced enhanced security protocols to prevent personally identifiable information on students from being compromised. Beyond just being an app of learning assistance and behavior rewarding, ClassDojo has enabled parents and teachers to be in constant communication and even forego parent-teacher meetings.
ClassDojo has remained free and been able to improve its experience because Chaudhary and Don elected not to spend any capital on advertising. To them, as long as people are talking about the app there’s no need to put intrusive ads in it or spend exorbitant amounts of money on TV commercials. There’s also been no immediate pressure from investors to monetize the app, though they are pleased with the new Beyond School addition.
NPR published an article about Rocketship Education, which many have criticized as unbalanced and loaded with inaccuracies. According to critics, the article did not even present the claim in a fair context. It also failed to completely define what Rocketship Education is all about. Rather, it discussed the challenges that the charter school organization is facing. These challenges are prevalent among many schools including public schools.
The NPR article talked about issues like strict discipline, the intense pressure to succeed academically, the customary and ceremonial classroom practices, and even the long hours spent by students at school. Unfortunately, these are general issues that all schools struggle with and not just Rocketship Education. These issues the writer sighted in the article are also the same issues that drive the students to extremely high test results. Despite these issues, parents remained loyal to the charter school that their children are enrolled.
Another issue that many critics pointed out about the article is the repeated and almost deliberate reference of Rocketship Education as a company. The term company also connotes a business gunning for profit and not non-profit organizations. According to critics, the article failed to mention that nonprofit organizations support for-profit businesses like availing services or purchasing products.
On her Twitter account, the author justified her work by claiming that she used the term company to refer to Rocketship Education to avoid using repetitive words. However, nowhere in her article was Rocketship Education referred to as a non-profit organization. Critics noted that the entire article repeated the term Rocketship 68 times, Rocketship schools 8x, and company 4 times.
About Rocketship Education
Rocketship Education was one of the pioneering charter school systems to heavily utilize various forms of technology in classrooms. Several years ago, the charter school organization realized that they also need to step back a little and have the schools led by teachers. The charter school was founded in 2006 by John Danner and Preston Smith. The organization received various donations from notable people and institutions. It includes a $2 million donation from Netflix’s chief executive officer Reed Hastings. The previous Obama administration also invested $2 million. The Education Department awarded a $250 million grant to Rocketship Education. The charter school changed its name in 2017 and is now called Rocketship Public Schools.
Connect with Rocketship Education here https://www.facebook.com/RocketshipSchools/