In an effort to prepare students for a tech-driven economy, many K-12 schools are making substantial investments in educational technology. But when all is said and done, much of that technology ends up going underutilized.
“We recently did a survey with 100 school districts, and 75 percent of the schools that responded deployed 75 percent or less of the software licensing they purchased,” said classform co-founder Tony Sheffler. “There’s a great opportunity to drive some spend out of schools and put the money back into their budgets.”
Based in Chicago, classform is the startup behind a cloud platform that helps schools get a better handle on their technology arsenals. Its software helps schools take a complete inventory of the technology they own, how much it is worth and the extent to which it is being used.
In addition to unused software licenses, many schools have unused hardware like iPads and Chromebooks that are still worth a lot of money, said co-founder Blair Walsh. By helping schools discover the value of that unused equipment, classform hopes to free up more resources that schools can reinvest in new technologies.
Sheffler and Walsh founded classform at the end of 2016, but the pair has worked together as consultants in the education technology space for the past two years. They decided to build the platform after realizing that many schools had no idea how much the technology they owned was worth.
In addition to helping schools take stock of their tech, classform hopes to be a knowledge hub for educators who want to expand their STEM programs.
“The average school is really slow to adopt new technologies, because there’s not a lot of great information sharing about what works,” said Walsh. “There are schools that are really hungry to adopt new technology, but fear that they’re not well-trained enough.”
To that end, classform will have social capabilities to help schools compare their tech portfolios and discuss which initiatives they’ve had the most success with. They are also partnering with edtech manufacturers to create educational content and certification programs.
Sheffler said classform will partner with makers of STEM education technology to sell products directly to schools, but that its SaaS platform will be available to schools free of charge. The company will also leverage the data it collects from schools to help technology companies improve their products.
For now, the process of tracking hardware and software licenses still depends on some manual entry, but the company’s long-term goal is to automate that tracking — sort of like Mint.com does for consumer spending.
To date, the company has four full-time employees, but the co-founders expect to grow significantly in the next six months. Part of that growth will come from bringing building an in-house developer team.
Sheffler said the company is about two weeks out from its initial beta launch, in which 10 school districts are lined up to participate.
Image via classform.