May 14, 2014
Most people would agree that having more learning resources and tools available on the Internet is a good thing. But with great options come great responsibility--and great work, especially for schools.
At a basic level, two things need to be done before students can access online learning products. First, accounts have to be created, a process that involves the vendor and and school IT administrator. Then, the students actually have to log in to their accounts.
San Francisco-based Clever, founded in 2012, has made its name by building an API that helps companies and schools provision student accounts. (The company currently boasts over 20,000 K-12 schools.) Now, it’s focusing on the second part.
To explain the problem that the startup is currently trying to address, Clever’s CEO Tyler Bosmeny offers this scenario: “Imagine yourself as a second grader trying to remember dozens of usernames and passwords. Or put yourself in the shoes of a second-grade teacher in charge of keeping track of ten different logins for each of your thirty students.”
It’s not a hypothetical situation. According to a survey of 204 teachers conducted by MDR (an education market research and data firm) for Clever during April 2014, one-quarter of class time devoted to online learning was wasted on getting students to log in. And nearly 80 percent of teachers said they would use more technology if they didn’t have to deal with this problem.
Today, Clever is showing off a new product, Instant Login, that offers students the convenience of a single sign-on service. After logging in once to the platform, students will see a page with icons of the different third-party learning programs that the school is using. When they click on one of the icons, they go directly to that provider’s website and are automatically logged in.
Bosmeny adds that Instant Login also works with Google Chromebooks, so that once students log into their own Chromebooks, they can immediately access the different applications on the Instant Login platform.
Eighteen companies--from Achieve3000 to Triumph Learning--will make their applications available via Instant Login in the coming months.
Instant Login is currently being beta-tested in schools in Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), Miami-Dade County and Lee County (in Florida). At OUSD, which recently deployed 10,000 Chromebooks, Clever has been “instrumental in our rollout,” says John Krull, the district’s Information Technology Officer.
“It’s great to have students just log in once and have access to all the ‘Cleverized’ apps,” says Krull. “In the future, what I’d like to see is for teachers to be able to personalize this portal, so that once students log in, they see a customized list of materials and activities from different providers that fit their learning needs.”
Clever will make Instant Login available to all schools in July--for free. The company’s business model remains the same as from day one: charge vendors a monthly fee to have their apps “Cleverized,” while keeping it free for schools.