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Learning Technology's Next Generation
October 20, 2009 - 9:36pm

Learning tech needs some new blood. We need to recruit young people to go into our discipline (actually - we need to define our discipline - but that is a larger debate). We need to encourage people in their twenties to work in academic technology units, to join learning tech companies, and to start their own learning technology companies.

One of the developments I worry about with the Blackboard's roll-up of the for-profit CMS space is that we will have less space for young start-ups. I guess a good argument could be made that twenty-somethings could start learning tech companies that join the existing CMS ecosystem (through building blocks or vendorizing the open source offerings), and I'll be looking at EDUCAUSE to see if that is the case.

An example of a learning technology twenty-something startup is Schoology, a cloud based course management system that explicitly aims to incorporate social learning into its core design.

The elevator pitch for Schoology from their product page is:

"Schoology combines social networking with course management to enable students and educators to manage classroom work while having the ability to seamlessly communicate and collaborate through a safe and secure network."

In chatting with founders Jeremy Friedman and Ryan Hwang I learned that the business model is school sales / subscription - with K-12 as the initial market focus. Higher education will come next, although they are eager to start working with colleges and universities to better learn the needs of this market. Anyone can go to the site and register to create their own individual course and play with the system. This gives us all the opportunity to participate in developing what may prove to be the next great CMS, as the founders are eager for feedback and ideas from the user community.

Schoology's founders are young and hungry, willing as Jeremy told me to "work to 4 a.m. coding and be back at our desks by 9." They have built a feedback button into every page of their CMS, and they are fully committed to agility, flexibility and speed to meet the needs of their users.

Interested in getting a seat at the table in the development of a clean sheet CMS? Interested in following an educational technology company that is just starting out? The Schoology guys want to hear from you.

Any other examples of new ed. tech. companies from recent(ish) college graduates?


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