“Coursera is essentially an online teaching platform, not online learning,” says Paulo Blikstein, a professor at Columbia University who studies new educational technologies. “I’m surprised there are tons of features that just aren’t there, even after all these years.”
Software like Classify addresses these missing features by integrating learning and teaching tools into Zoom. The software is intended for students in Kindergarten to Grade 12, although it can also be used for higher education and corporate training. Earlier this year, the company announced $ 30 million Series A funding accelerate its launch on multiple platforms and provide the software to 7,500 educational institutions that have expressed interest in purchasing it.
Class CEO Michael Chasen (who was the former CEO of Blackboard, another education technology learning management company) consulted with education professionals of all skill levels and subjects to develop the software. “Their needs seemed pretty universal,” he said, showing me an online demo. There are several tools that allow Class to more closely replicate teaching methods that you might find in a face-to-face classroom.
Perhaps the first, and most notable, is Podium View. Instead of being buried in a gallery view, the class instructor is now placed on a podium next to the class. For younger students like my daughter, who find themselves overwhelmed talking in front of a large group of people, the instructor has asymmetric control over view – they can mute all students, activate a “private” view so that that other students cannot see everyone making faces and incorporating outside content into the lessons. All of this makes it much easier for parents to ‘drop off’ their youngest children in front of the computer.
For older students, in addition to instructor-only tools such as attendance, student literacy in the gallery view, and various forms of data analysis, the instructor can also rule out students for one-on-one interactions, organize students into breakout rooms for small group discussions, and incorporate click-through quizzes into the lecture.
You can see similar features in Engageli, another online learning platform that raised around $ 15 million in funding last year. Founder and CEO Dan Avida’s platform is aimed at college teachers, rather than Kindergarten to Grade 12, but it has many similar features like asymmetric control.
Engageli also claims to relieve dozens of pain points from instructors. For example, course instructors can monitor students from multiple screens, making it much easier to organize a large class. Students can upload their notes and screenshots directly from Engageli and in Google collaborative documents. And rather than using eye tracking software or other potential intrusions into student privacy, an engagement counter allows students to report their interest anonymously.