San Francisco-based startup ClassDojo, which launched in August 2012 with $1.6 million in funding from investors including Ron Conway and Y Combinator founder Paul Graham, announced the launch of its iOS app today, which aims to help teachers encourage positive behavior in the classroom. The mobile app works with ClassDojo’s online behavior management platform, which helps teachers reward students for positive behavior, and provide feedback to parents on their child’s progress.
CEO Sam Chaudhary said ClassDojo’s iPhone app is designed to help teachers enforce positive behaviors in the classroom in real-time, and to be a complement to the online platform. “One of the consistent things that we’ve seen when we’ve been in classrooms, and we’ve listened to feedback, is that a lot of teachers want to use it in real-time while they’re walking around their classroom,” he said in an interview, adding that before they could do that only by using a desktop computer or the mobile website. “The whole point of the iOS app and the upcoming Android app is to provide a really fast and slick and smooth user experience so teachers can use this unobtrusively in the way that they want to.”
Once teachers download the free app, they can add their classes, and give each student a personalized avatar. They can then provide feedback to students as they interact in the classroom, on any criteria they choose. Teachers can also randomly select students to call on using the app, and assign points to individuals or multiple students at a time. Points automatically sync with the web platform, so teachers can display a real-time leaderboard for each class using the computer and a projector, a Smartboard, or other display. ClassDojo doesn’t provide teachers with rewards for students other than points, and Chaudhary said they don’t have any plans to incorporate real-life incentives for students, though some teachers are providing rewards on their own.
In terms of what behaviors teachers can encourage or award points for, Chaudhary said it’s customizable, but they encourage positive feedback rather than negative feedback. “We don’t want to be very prescriptive with the things that teachers should award behavior for,” he said, adding that they’ve seen points awarded for participation, persistence, being on task, creativity, and asking good questions, among others. “It is possible to give negative feedback, but we try to strongly discourage it.”
Part of what ClassDojo offers to students and parents is data and analytics on classroom behavior. The company offers parents a basic report on their kids’ in-class behavior, and Chaudhary said they’ll be launching paid options to give parents more insight into trends in behavior and recommendations on what to do with that information. He plans to keep ClassDojo free for teachers, and said other possible ways to monetize include providing a school-wide solution.
Since launching in beta in fall 2011, and to the public in August, the platform has been used by over four million teachers and students, with over 50 million feedback points awarded in over 30 countries. Moving forward, Chaudhary said the focus will be on building an Android app, and providing more support for international users. He also said that to date their primary focus has been working with teachers, and they’d like to focus on their other main target groups, students and teachers, in the future.
With a substantial base of teachers and students already using the platform, the idea of tracking and rewarding behavior in the classroom seems to be resonating with users. While today’s update means ClassDojo can be integrated seamlessly into a teacher’s daily routine, working on partnerships and integrations with existing learning management and classroom-focused platforms might be the key to rapid global expansion.