Jeff O’Hara and Edmodo: Build Tools That Support the Needs of Your Users

August 1, 2013

1:00 pm

By the end of the following school year, all students in the United States must meet the “proficient” level or above on state standardized tests per the requirements under No Child Left Behind. You read that correctly: ALL students. One hundred percent of American students must pass their state standardized tests regardless of socioeconomic background, learning disability, or any other outstanding trait.

With such a high demand for teachers to ensure that their students succeed, it’s of utmost importance that the technologies teachers employ in their lessons are up to date and meet students’ wants and needs. Jeff O’Hara, the cofounder of Edmodo, understands that the tech tools used by teachers must fall in line with their current demands and fit in with current cultural trends.

Edmodo is a social networking education platform for teachers, students, and parents. It shares several traits with Blackboard Learn, such as assignment-posting capability, cloud capabilities for storing and sharing important academic documents, and various methods through which to communicate. But being younger, Edmodo has been able to respond easily to market and consumer changes; hence, an education platform that is immersed in social networking.

Since the beginning of high school (which wasn’t TOO many years ago), my teachers used Blackboard as the primary medium through which to connect or to communicate online with students. As a student, it was pretty arduous to use, as there were too many options, and you could easily get lost in any one of many of its tabs, links, and open caskets filled with rotting apples from desks past. On top of that, the frequency with which the entire system went down made it hard to coordinate discussions.

In 2008, Edmodo was initially created as a microblogging platform providing the rostering and privacy functionality that was desperately needed for professionals working in education. At that time, the beta version of the product featured a very bare-bones design, focused on enabling users to quickly share messages, links, and files.

By 2010, the site had evolved to provide a social collaboration experience for teachers and students, on top of this social sharing aspect. The platform transformed into a kind of Facebook-for-the-classroom. And now? Edmodo has reached over 20 million students and teachers across the globe and has developed their platform to enable personalization with educational apps for teachers to supplement their lesson plans.

Watch Jeff O’Hara talk briefly about developing a product that teachers want to use. Here’s the video.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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