ClassDojo: linking up schools with parents

ClassDojo is an educational communication tool that allows teachers and students to update parents on life at school with images, video and Facebook-style messages. 

Since it was founded in 2011 the free, Instagram-influenced app has achieved a kind of stealthy, cultish popularity (it is used in 180 countries and now available in more than 70 percent of the 25,000 schools in the UK) and been at the vanguard of a new wave of scholastic tech.

After winning initial funding through illustrious start-up incubator Y Combinator, the pair swapped the capital for Silicon Valley (ClassDojo is now based in San Francisco) and set about interviewing nearly 300 teachers to put meat on the bones of an idea rooted in overhauling what Chaudhary calls the “pretty out-of-date” classroom.

As well as providing a messaging service, digital pinboard and a slick cartoon-style interface for managing things such as noise level, ClassDojo also allows teachers to dish out points for everything from “working hard” to “good listening”. 

It’s the kind of instant appraisal that parents can easily pour their existing worries into but Chaudhary stresses that “no one is ranked” and the portal merely offers “feedback to spark conversations”. 

What’s more, ClassDojo (which has also started to introduce video discussion clips on “big ideas”) isn’t the only start-up rebooting classroom computers. Kid-friendly coding firm Tech Will Save Us recently introduced Complete Dough Universe, a colourful, conductive Play-Doh-like substance that teaches children about electricity. 

Then there’s Seesaw, a fast-rising digital portfolio that lets pupils keep a visual record of their work, receive logged audio feedback from teachers and send clips to their parents devices. So parents, prepare for holes to be picked in your stern decrees about limited screen time: the connected classroom of the future is here.