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Live at AESA: Kiddom Chats with The EduTech Guys

Live at AESA: Kiddom Chats with The EduTech Guys

Jason Katcher

Jason Katcher

VP of Sales, Kiddom

Education and SaaS technology leader with a passion for K12 edtech.

Last month, Jason Katcher, VP of Revenue at Kiddom, sat down with the EduTech Guys at AESA 2018 (Colorado Springs, CO) for an interview about what we’re doing here at Kiddom. Read the full transcript of the interview below, or listen to it here.   

The EduTech Guys: [00:00:00] The EduTech Guys present a conversation recorded from our live coverage of the AESA conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2018. Enjoy the program.

Jason Katcher: [00:00:11] Fantastic. So my name is Jason Katcher. I lead our revenue efforts, I’m the Vice President of Revenue for a company called Kiddom, and I’ve been with the company now for seven months as we bring our product to market for administrators. 

The company’s been around for about four years, focused mostly on the classroom experience for teachers. Prior to that, I spent two years at Dropbox, where I started their higher-ed division, focused on enabling researchers globally to collaborate on large files. And prior to that, I actually spent a little bit over a decade at Google, focused all across their education components’ early-on days — disrupting the advertising industry, focused on for-profit education and helping them market to potential students.

In 2013 I wanted to get closer to schools and making an impact. So I was fortunate to join the Google for Education team, that was just starting out ChromeBooks, Google Apps. I led those efforts across the Americas from 2013 to 2015 before leaving. And it was a wonderful experience launching Classroom, but there were some other reasons why I left. I thought there were some gaps in K12 education that our companies needed to fill and sort of serendipitously I fell into the hands of Kiddom. And I’m really excited about where we’re going with this.

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The EduTech Guys: [00:01:29] So let’s talk about what Kiddom offers, what do they do?

Jason Katcher: [00:01:33] Sure. So Kiddom is building the operating system for K12 to enable classroom intelligence. And what that means, “operating system” is not your technical OS sort of Windows or IOS. It’s really about enabling all of the key constituents in a student’s success to have the ability to operate more effectively. And those key constituents for us are the principals or the administrators, the teachers, the students, and the parents. And so by enabling them to have more access to information in real time, we believe they’ll be able to access more content that’s relevant to those kids in order to provide that student with the best chance of student success.

So if you think about an LMS, that is definitely a part of our system, but we believe the operating system picks up where the LMS leaves off. And there have been a couple of companies who’ve tried the operating system; there’s Summit School, Summit Learning. There’s also some very large challenges and well-documented challenges with that model, as well as AltSchool, who tried to just build schools, former Googlers actually, and realized that that’s not quite as easy as it seems, from the outside in.

The EduTech Guys: [00:02:35] Right. (Laughter.)

Jason Katcher: [00:02:35] And you know it takes a lot more than just tech smarts to build a school, and they learned that the hard way. So we are looking to bring that same platform of not being prescriptive, enabling teachers to teach the way they want. So whether it’s blended learning or project-based or they’re focused on standards-based grading or ELL or Special needs, Kiddom is a blank canvas, much like Google Classroom was. If you think about Google Classroom actually, that was designed to help teachers operate their classrooms more effectively. It was not designed with the intent of becoming an LMS or administrative tool.

The EduTech Guys: [00:03:10] Right.

Jason Katcher: [00:03:11] And administrators don’t have a view into that. So if you think about the enabling of operating something better, or more effectively that’s essentially what an operating system, in our opinion is and is where the puck is going.

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The EduTech Guys: [00:03:22] Yeah I agree. I think that’s really cool. So I guess that’s my next question, is around filling those gaps. You know I was going to ask this — it’s exciting to know in our time that there are still areas for companies like Kiddom to come into place and fill these gaps and create jobs and create opportunities for students and teachers. That’s amazing.

There’s, you know Google… 90 percent or more of our listeners’ schools use Google. I mean, why wouldn’t you — it’s free. But you’re right. A lot of teachers always ask me, “I want to do this in Classroom, but Classroom’s not designed to do that. This is what Classroom is designed to do. And so it’s you know, “Well I want to use Docs for this, well Docs is not designed to do that. Docs is just — it’s your fork. And that’s your knife. And this is your spoon. So how did this how did this come about. I mean, what was the talk that built this.

Jason Katcher: [00:04:28] Yeah sure, so there’s a couple avenues we can go there, but really I think understanding the genesis of how Kiddom was created. Because it comes from a place of solving true pain points that are existing in the classrooms as we know them now.

Many people on the Kiddom team are former educators, administrators, so they fully understand the points-of-view of how products still have gaps in solving some of those challenges. And a lot of that’s related to the ability to coalesce data on one platform.

Our CEO, Ahsan Rizvi, actually resides on the West Coast and his concept for this was that even the wealthy districts in San Francisco had real challenges with interoperability.

The EduTech Guys: [00:05:06] Aha.

Jason Katcher: [00:06:10] And all it really did was connect the workflows that teachers were already doing — we’re not here to tell someone how to teach or how to instruct — and connect that workflow with the data. So the data that’s coming from the assessments, or the standards that they’re looking at to make sure that they are assessing properly, and bring that together in a way that makes it really easy for a teacher. And so that’s really around three different components, the classroom product is we provide them with — and it’s all free. So teachers can sign up right now, and it comes with a collaborative planner where the curriculum will live. It comes with a free reporting system that gives them these really easy sort of beautiful and simple reports that enable them to intervene or enrich, depending on where those students are.

The EduTech Guys: [00:06:53] Sure.

Jason Katcher: [00:06:53] Very quickly. And I’d say the real difference between what Kiddom has built and what other LMS’s, I mean I wouldn’t call us quite an LMS at this point, is that we have a third-party content library. So the content that is connected to assignments that teachers are putting out there can come from their hard drives, as usual. It can come from Google Drive. We have a deep integration with Google, as we speak.

The EduTech Guys: [00:07:14] Sure.

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Jason Katcher: [00:07:14] And most importantly we have third-party content that is on the site itself. So Khan Academy, CK12, Newsela, LearnZillion, IXL, and we’re adding more, Scholastic just joined, and we’ll be really adding more around OER and then hopefully the traditional publishers. But by having all of the content readily available at the fingertips all for free for those educators, they suddenly didn’t need to go anywhere else.

So it becomes an all-in-one platform for classroom experiences. And the nice thing about that is that all of the content is all standards-aligned so Kiddom comes with every standard already baked into the system, so when they’re creating an assignment, we have national standards, there are state-level standards if they’ve forked those national Common Core ones or if you have custom standards, they can implement those as well, and then there are rubrics in the system.

It’s also about having a grading scale of “mastery” or “progressing”, so very simply a teacher can see within their class which children are thriving, which children are struggling, and then quickly intervene by seeing which kids need more time to further be assessed on a standard. And they don’t need to go find more content relative to those standards, which if you think about it, a teacher says “Great, I know I need to intervene, but what do I do?” And so they maybe they go to Google, if they’re smart, and they type in the standard code and they try and find some content or another teacher —

The EduTech Guys: [00:08:30] Right, right.

Jason Katcher: [00:08:31] — (Kiddom) does all the legwork for them. We prompt them right back, we know what they’re trying to assess. We prompt them back to the content library and we take away a lot of the guesswork, and that’s really the big part of it.

And as machine learning gets stronger, we’ll be able to identify when a certain piece of content was being used for a specific standard, and now how relevant or strong that piece of content was versus something else. So that’s a little bit more the long game.

The EduTech Guys: [00:08:52] Yeah.

Jason Katcher: [00:05:06] It was really hard to plug all these various systems together. So how do we build something that can actually bring that all together into one platform? So you don’t have your content in one place, your curriculum in another, your attendance in another. At the same time, his college roommate, Abbas Manjee, who is our Chief Academic Officer, was a math grade chair in the DOE in New York, and he was working with some really challenging kids. The type of kids that need serious remediation, sometimes jail, that kind of thing.

The EduTech Guys: [00:05:31] Sure, yeah.

Jason Katcher: [00:05:31] And he was using a grade book that he had designed in Google Sheets that was working really well for what he needed. And suddenly the DOE mandated that all of the schools needed to use PowerSchool. And so suddenly he needed to do double entry. It was interfering with his workload, it made things impossible for him to do. And he saw no value in that.

So, at the same time that his frustrations were bubbling over, he started to talk back to his roommate and they said, “Well why don’t we get together and make this thing a reality. Using your educational experiences as an academic chair, and then mine on the technology side…” (of our CEOs’, on that side) “And bring that together in a way that we can really solve some problems for teachers in the classroom.” And that’s how Kiddom was born about four years ago.

Jason Katcher: [00:08:52] And now in the last few months, administrators have been asking us for last year — “How do we get the same level of insight? How do we get the ability to centrally distribute our curriculum?” which is a really big problem.

Most of that curriculum lives in Google Drive, and it’s all scattered and scope and sequence isn’t mapped out, you have no standards alignment on it… and then as we go forward we have really the platform for a true Early Warning Response System, which will enable augmentation of current MTSS strategies that these districts are using.

But our job, again, is to take away the guesswork for the administrators and the ones running that intervention. We surface the data for you, based on our platform and suddenly you can focus more on the actual intervention that happens in the classroom.

The EduTech Guys: [00:09:37] I like that you that you also include enrichment, because I think a lot of times, I think in a lot of cases, there are multiple platforms out there that don’t quite obviously get into the extent that you guys do, but that provide the intervention side of things.

I think it’s key that you touched on the enrichment side of things. So, if I’m a teacher and I’m looking through all of this and I say, “OK. This student is — you know, they’ve got this, there’s not a problem — but I still have other students who aren’t quite there yet; I still need to keep that student engaged here. I’ve got this whole list of content tied directly to the standards and things I’m already teaching, but it is enhancing and enriching what that student needs in order to keep that student engaged while the other ones are coming along,” and I think that is a very, very key point to what you bring up.

Jason Katcher: [00:10:34] I think it’s a great point. Kids get bored, and it’s important for teachers — again, we focus on At-Risk all the time, and I think what you bring up is equity, and the ability to finally start to understand and this is something we’ve heard from superintendents, is that when you take it at a high level, and you take that’s sort a 30000 foot view. And it’s a “Oh 70% of my kids across my district are at mastery level or above,” That doesn’t tell the whole story.

The EduTech Guys: [00:10:57] Right.

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Jason Katcher: [00:10:58] We need to start peeling back the onions to understand to haves and the have-nots. What are the things you’re going to do differently for the kids that are actually having a tough time, based on a variety of factors, because you really can’t get to the root of it without having context of that child. So, the teach the whole child conversation.

The EduTech Guys: [00:11:14] —Yes!

Jason Katcher: [00:11:14] And then, on the kids that are doing really well and are getting bored, you know that’s really where we need to think about you know, how to move them faster. It’s not about everybody moving at the same pace anymore, and finally we’re at a point where I think we can start to deliver some of that. So enrichment and intervention are both key, but it’s also key for superintendents to rely on partners and companies who can help them surface that data and coalesce it. And I think one of the most interesting parts of our company is the content library because if you think about it, most curriculum providers are not transparent in terms of who is using my curriculum and if so what are they using it for —

The EduTech Guys: [00:11:50] Sure, right.

Jason Katcher: [00:11:51] — and if it’s effective. So you think about that, and it’s hard to do because the curriculum lives in one place and the LMS lives in another. But the fact that we have this content living on our site enables finally you as a administrator to say “This piece of content was attached to this assignment, which was assessing this skill, and it led to this outcome.”.

The EduTech Guys: [00:12:09] Right.

Jason Katcher: [00:12:09] And so if you think long-term about the ability to sort of break open the curriculum model, much like Google did when I was there in the early days around advertising, it was just sort of an accepted fact that you didn’t know which advertising dollars were working and which… You know it’s like half works and half doesn’t. I don’t know which one, how to optimize anything, right? They used to throw us out of the agencies, and agencies didn’t care because they were getting paid a commission regardless. But now if you’re a marketer you can even think about running an advertisement because Google AdWords brought transparency and accountability. B,ut in the curriculum world or in K12 it’s sort of understood that for 50 years you just use it and keep on moving.

The EduTech Guys: [00:12:46] Right.

Jason Katcher: [00:12:47] We think that’s not OK. In 2019, you should start to really know what’s being used because you’re paying a lot of money for it, in many cases. Now we know that there’s a better ROI to be had. So long term, we’re going to be able to help prove for schools the efficacy of those dollars that are being spent, as well as the stuff that’s free because you also don’t want to just use something for free if it’s not effective.

The EduTech Guys: [00:13:07] Right, exactly.

Jason Katcher: [00:13:07] So if all we are is fantastic but not if it’s not creating the results you want… So this sort of all-in-one platform is is where, you know, it seems like we’re headed now.

The EduTech Guys: [00:13:15] That is awesome. Well a one stop shop. That’s what I’ve been preaching for 15, 20 years. That’s what’s wrong with my teachers down at school level.

The Evolution of EdTech — and What’s Next

We explore 6 waves in the evolution of edtech to understand why the time is right for school systems to adopt their own “operating systems”.

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Jason Katcher: [00:13:24] And it’s you know the challenge with getting to that point is that it’s really hard to know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. So I actually just posted a blog for Kiddom on the evolution of Ed Tech, and thinking about the waves of transformation that have been happening in technology where you first had these closed ecosystems in Microsoft or Apple.

The EduTech Guys: [00:13:41] Sure.

Jason Katcher: [00:13:42] That’s where you lived in education. And you picked one, and that was your poison, and those were the ecosystems you went into, and that lasted for a long time –.

The EduTech Guys: [00:13:48] A long time.

Jason Katcher: [00:13:49] — and then Google Apps finally released Google domains in G-Suite and all these things it’s now become Docs, Sheets, Slides, and that created the ability to move to the cloud, and you were accessing it from either Microsoft device or an Apple device — but devices were still expensive.

The EduTech Guys: [00:14:04] Right.

Jason Katcher: [00:14:04] And then ChromeBooks was the third wave, which drove price points way down, we had the secure, sharable model.

The EduTech Guys: [00:14:10] Platform agnostic, exactly.

Jason Katcher: [00:14:11] Yes, and then that enabled a one-to-one experience to start to be seen in the last several years. And then you had applications, which now, if you think about it, they used to only run on you know, Android apps, iOS apps, now you run Office apps on Android, you can run Docs on–

The EduTech Guys: [00:14:24] Yeah, we’re running Open Office on ChromeBooks. So I mean, it doesn’t really matter at this point.

Jason Katcher: [00:14:28] Exactly, it doesn’t matter and that’s the beauty. So the fifth wave is where we are now. Which is around data unification. Because, if you can not bring all of that data together then you can not build a holistic profile of a student, and therefore you are kidding yourselves if you think you’ll get to a personalized learning experience. Yeah. And then wave six will ultimately be around machine learning and artificial intelligence to enable this stuff to be more supplemented. And so it’s a really exciting time and that’s where we’re Kiddom is coming in and kind of really skating where that puck is headed.

The EduTech Guys: [00:14:55] Yeah. That’s very cool. Tell our listeners how they can get in touch with you.

Jason Katcher: [00:14:59] So our website, and this is important because it’s not a dot com, it’s a dot co — but it’s Kiddom, K-I-D-D-O-M-dot-co, and as a teacher you can register for a free class on there now, we’ve got a demo class that will populate and show you exactly how to utilize the system. And if they want to get in touch with me, you know personally, they can reach me on Twitter at @ J Katcher 74, that’s J-K-A-T-C-H-E-R-7-4.Be ready for some provocative tweets, if you’re okay with that, then come visit. (Laughter.) But overall, the website would be the best place where we can have demos and whatnot.

The EduTech Guys: [00:15:31] Well I’ll throw out the social media too — Kiddomapp, kiddomapp is on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you can type it and you’re there.

Jason Katcher: [00:15:38] That’s right. We’re all over Twitter, Facebook, we love to provide great resources. (Laughter.).

The EduTech Guys: [00:15:42] Awesome.

Jason Katcher: [00:15:43] It’s been awesome, thank you.

The EduTech Guys: [00:15:44] Well Jason, thank you so much. What a great conversation. It’s been a pleasure.

The EduTech Guys: [00:15:46] You’ve been listening to a recorded conversation from our live coverage of AESA 2018 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Remember to visit us on the web at W-W-W-dot-Edu-Tech-Guys-dot-com. 

Want to learn more about Kiddom Academy?

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it’s very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

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The Evolution of EdTech — and What’s Next

The Evolution of EdTech — and What’s Next

Jason Katcher

Jason Katcher

VP of Sales, Kiddom

Education and SaaS technology leader with a passion for K12 edtech.

I have great respect for the past. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.

-Maya Angelou

How many times have you already looked at your phone today? You might’ve sent a few texts. Maybe you opened some emails. Perhaps you shared a document, or viewed a presentation. It’s easy to forget that just over ten years ago, none of these actions were simple or ubiquitous — the iPhone wasn’t launched until 2007, and most devices in the office (or classroom) were tethered to a desk, as the “cloud” had yet to take shape.

texts a day sent on average (Source: Text Request)

hours a day spent on smartphones (Source: Hackernoon)

To understand why the time is right for school systems to adopt their own “operating system,” let’s explore how technology has evolved over the past thirty years across six major waves.    
1980-2000s

Wave 1: The Closed OS

When people hear “operating system” they might think back to the early days of educational technology, when the ecosystems were closed; back then, you were either a loyal Microsoft or Apple user, and those were pretty much your only options.  As classrooms only had one option or the other, the computers subsequently ran Windows or MacOS. It was a binary landscape, to say the least. As a result, Apple and Microsoft dominated the education market for years.  During this time, most schools used on-premise servers to store all of their data (many still do). But this created numerous issues, including but not limited to limited collaboration, restricted mobility, and increased security risks. This lasted from the 1980s through the early 2000s. However, something called “the cloud” was brewing in the sky.

2004-2007

Wave 2: The Early Days of the Cloud

In 2004, something outrageous happened: you no longer needed to store emails in a local server. This was thanks to the release of “Gmail” by Google, a relatively new company then. One year later, Google purchased a company called Writely, which would ultimately become what is now known as Google Docs. With the ability to create and share content, Google secured a place to store it all in 2007. Originally called Platypus, this would later be known globally as Google Drive. These three pieces were built on the belief that the future was about the cloud — the ability to access anything, from anywhere, on any device — and it had a tremendous effect on the way education systems operated, from the classroom to the district. 

2007-2012

Wave 3: Enter Devices

The cloud was a disruptive force, but it wasn’t easily accessible, as laptops and computers were still rather expensive. While the original 2007 iPhone changed the game for what one could do on a phone, it was challenging to be productive, no matter how “smart” the device was. It wasn’t until 2012 that Google began to develop the first Chromebook, which caused the first major shakeup to the laptop ecosystem in years. Meanwhile, Apple stuck to their guns on a premium price point for Macs and iPads. During this time, Microsoft often stressed how much students needed to learn how to use Office, since that is what they would use in the “real world”. In the end, they were both impacted by an evolving market. Chromebooks delivered 90% of the functionality at a fraction of the cost, and by 2014, schools began to purchase them in bulk. Over the last four years, both Microsoft and Apple started to change their education model. Google’s lower price point for school devices significantly drove prices down and made them affordable to nearly everyone. This gave more and more school systems the opportunity to consider how technology might transform learning experiences with the goal of providing greater equity and accessibility. When any technology becomes a commodity, the end user wins.

2012-2014

Wave 4: Workflows

Years later the foundation Google has established paved the way for Google Apps for Education (now G-Suite). In the process, they effectively solved a major interoperability challenge: the offering was completely free, which challenged other players in the edtech space. While Microsoft and Apple ignored this paradigm shift for years, they were forced to evolve or be forgotten in the K-12 space. Office 365 was eventually launched, and although it was “free,” schools still needed to license Office, which was expensive. Apple’s iCloud simply never gained the traction it needed and as a result, Google continued to flourish and eat up more of the K-12 market share.

The one major challenge still facing Google was that the combination of GAFE and Drive together offered a clunky experience. This is likely because they were developed and housed in different parts of Google. They didn’t “talk” to each other well — a problem that often persists even with today’s apps. Teachers needed to ask their students to create an assignment in Docs, download a copy of that to a local folder on their desktop, upload it to Drive, and finally, move it to the teacher’s folder. That’s a lot of steps to take for every single assignment, not to mention, a lot of room for error.

While Microsoft and Apple were consumed with their device strategy, Google was solving this workflow problem. The answer soon arrived via Google Classroom: a way to enable Drive and GAFE to “talk” to each other directly. Classroom condensed those four steps into one seamless action and worked across all devices and operating systems. This simple solution simultaneously saved teachers time and helped us move towards classroom interoperability.

Microsoft has tried to launch their own version of Classroom, as has Apple, but both are inferior (and quite frankly, late-to-the-game) offerings. This is where the evolution and innovation of the LMS really hit a wall. The key advantage Canvas had, as it began to steal market share from the incumbent, Blackboard, was simply that they built a pure-SaaS product first and foremost. Blackboard got too comfortable and believed their loyal customer base would never leave.

Keep in mind as well that Classroom was never meant to be an LMS, or provide visibility for admins into the classroom. It was created to enable teachers to operate their classrooms more effectively. While this workflow was a huge value-add over the last four years, not much has happened since for K12, leaving the door open for new players.

2014-2018

Wave 5: Cross-Platform Applications

The next interoperability challenge was how to enable the various apps to run on any device in order to reduce the friction in schools who just wanted to teach and learn, and not worry about which device enabled it. For those who remember what happened with LAUSD in 2014, when content and curriculum cannot be accessed and used easily, technology fails. In the past few years, we can now operate Windows apps, like Powerpoint, Notes, et cetera, on a Chromebook or Android device. We can operate Android apps on Chromebooks, and we can even use Dropbox with Google or Microsoft as people seek their own custom, best-in-breed solution. We have now seen this convergence of enabling all types of applications to run across any device and OS. The focus on applications reduced the amount of friction for the end user, who just wants to access the content and does not care which OS or device they are using. It should just work.

2018+

Wave 6: Data Unification

The most important question for us today is, how does the data living across different applications speak to one another? And how do we make that data useful and meaningful for end-users of education technology? Schools can continue to work towards “personalization,” but the reality is that developing a holistic profile for every student across applications will be an absolute necessity to support individualized instruction. If classrooms are utilizing a learning management system, most of the achievement data will probably be with Google, Microsoft, or Schoology, to name a few. But regardless of any LMS’s collaboration features, their tools do not offer the ability to aggregate achievement data across applications for schools to make informed decisions about curriculum and instruction or resource allocation. As a result, the data necessary to make timely decisions and improve student outcomes currently lives scattered among a plethora of learning apps that don’t “speak” to one another. And this is where Kiddom comes in.  We approached the challenge by building for interoperability from the start. We considered all of the major stakeholders in the K-12 environment when we designed our analytics. Because Kiddom connects the dots between curriculum, instruction, and assessment, we effectively streamline the workflow necessary for educators and administrators to build student-centered instructional models.

Kiddom picks up where the LMS leaves off, offering an operating system for K-12 schools and districts to measure and act on classroom intelligence. We define a K-12 operating system as a set of interconnected tools to enable schools to operate more productively, increase student outcomes, and improve upon their respective instructional models. If you’re ready to see what the next wave of education technology can do for your school or district, let’s talk. As a former “Googler” who led the Chromebook initiative into schools and districts, I’d be happy to connect with you and your colleagues to address any challenges, fears, or questions you have about our incredibly useful tool for K12 education.

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it’s very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

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Why I Joined Kiddom

Why I Joined Kiddom

As technology continues to find its way into the classroom at a rapid pace, valid concerns from teachers continue to surface. Will educator responsibilities and/or impact be minimized? Will teachers no longer be needed? What parts of the job might be enhanced via technology?

In fact, these questions have been raised by educators since the birth of education technology. With the transition to cloud-based technology becoming more widely accepted, many school and district administrators are feeling the same unease.

How might technology enable more efficient resource allocation? How will these complex systems impact their jobs? How will machine learning and AI impact their schools and districts?

As we saw with the former, educators were able to start differentiating instruction more effectively as a result of some of these technological innovations. I believe the same will happen for the latter, as administrators evolve into true edtech coaches through K12 versus managing a rack of servers or blindly purchasing curriculum content for a district without being able to truly measure its efficacy.

With device access having become more and more ubiquitous due to favorable technology and pricing trends, the foundation is set to truly differentiate and individualize all student learning pathways.

Remember though that while technology is the vessel, instruction, curriculum, content and most importantly, collaboration are the key ingredients for student achievement.

 

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Over the last 13 years, I was incredibly fortunate to be part of two generational and disruptive companies in Google and Dropbox.

During my time at Google, I was lucky to have been part of a transformational time in the education world. In the K12 space for example, nobody expected the rapid success Chromebooks experienced, but it demonstrated what the right product, at the right time, for the right price point, could do to forever alter an industry.

Dropbox was no different and provided the opportunity to fine tune a beloved consumer product, into a robust set of tools for global researchers across higher education.

During the last six months, I’ve had time off to think about the direction my career would take next. Over that time, I met with many amazing people across a variety of industries. Having that time is a luxury to discover what truly makes you tick.

For me, seeing the way my seven year old son’s eyes lit up when he was reading My Weird School or Notebook of Doom, or watching a nature documentary, was the clearest sign I could get that I needed to be back in the world of K-12 education technology.

The time seemed right to step out of my comfort zone and into a start-up, where I could influence product, marketing, and of course, revenue.

That led me to Kiddom. A serendipitous call with its CEO Ahsan Rizvi, and a follow up meeting in San Francisco with 25 truly dedicated and passionate people, had me sold. Hearing from the teachers about how much they love the platform, reminds me of similar experiences prior to the launch of Google Classroom.

I truly believe that if you stay focused on the end user, good things will come. And we are, as Kiddom is now present in 70% of US school districts and we are just getting started.

By focusing on key pieces of teaching and learning such as standards-based grading and reporting, understanding content efficacy and utilization, simplifying collaboration, and enhancing parent engagement, Kiddom has built an incredible set of products loved by and advocated for by teachers across the country.

Teachers will always be at our core, as we continue to solve pain points they face every day in and out of the classroom.

As the roles of people in K12 evolve, so do the tools they use. In this case, the systems that have managed the process of learning in school. Kiddom isn’t just iterating on the monolithic LMS, but rather rethinking from the ground up what a true K12 operating system could offer.

Our school operating system enables educators to collaborate and individualize instruction more effectively. Classrooms gain access to a library of teaching resources and curriculum development tools. Beautiful, actionable reports help students, teachers, parents, and administrators monitor progress and take action. Pedagogy and technology work in harmony on Kiddom to help schools unlock their full potential.

To ramp up our Academy product for school and district administrators, we’ve nearly doubled the size of the company this year, to set up for a strong 2nd half of 2018.

Having been at Kiddom for six weeks, and with the school year winding down, my excitement about our impact continues to grow by the day. Our Academy pilot kit also launches this week, which will help administrators learn what many of their teachers have become so excited about. As Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.” Sounds like the definition of lifetime learning to me. Come join us on this journey to reshape teaching and learning with our new K12 OS!

 

 


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By: Jason Katcher, VP of Revenue

 

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