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In his latest column on ed-tech innovations, Editorial Director Dennis Pierce highlights a new platform that allows for instant login to any software with a single click—and five other innovations.


A new platform that allows for instant login to any software with a single click, and a “differentiated learning algorithm” that gives students personalized support inside or outside of school, are among the latest ed-tech innovations I’ll be highlighting this week.

Faster, simpler logins

Teachers of young students can spend up to a quarter of their class time just making sure all their students are logged into the software they’re trying to use, according to a survey of educators by The MDR Group.

The survey was commissioned by the San Francisco ed-tech company Clever, which has made its name over the last few years by offering a cloud-based data interoperability solution for schools. Now, Clever has announced a new service called Instant Login, which enables teachers and students to access all of their software with just a single click—eliminating the need for separate user names and passwords.

“Schools are using more software than ever before, but teachers will tell you that the amount of time spent dealing with user names and passwords has gotten out of control,” said Tyler Bosmeny, CEO of Clever, in a press release.

In the MDR survey, 80 percent of teachers said they would use software more often in their classes if it took less time to log in.

As with Clever’s interoperability solution, the success of the Instant Login initiative will depend on publishers of educational software getting behind the effort, allowing their software to work with Clever’s technology.

Clever offers its interoperability service to schools for free, and the company charges software providers for the right to take part. With Instant Login, Clever is offering the service to both schools and software providers free of charge.

Clever is beta testing the solution in several schools systems now, including California’s Oakland Unified School District. The company expects to offer it to schools nationwide this summer.

Instant Login “is dramatically changing how we use software,” said John Krull, information technology officer for the Oakland USD, in a press release. “As part of our district’s blended and personalized learning strategy, we plan to offer our schools a wide selection of apps that are ‘Cleverized’ and ready to go. This will save us time in adopting and implementing new software and improve the classroom experience for teachers and students.”

As of press time, companies that have expressed support for the Instant Login solution included Capstone Digital, ClassDojo,, Common Sense Media’s Digital Passport, DreamBox Learning, Lightspeed Systems’ MyBigCampus, Remind101, and Think Through Math.

Clever isn’t the only ed-tech company trying to simplify user logins. For instance, EduTone has created a cloud-based single sign-on platform for schools, called the EduTone Xchange.

The service enables schools to aggregate, manage, and deliver web-enabled applications and content to students and teachers by role—giving them “quick and seamless access from a single point-and-click widget on any device and operating system,” EduTone says.

(Next page: Personalized learning—with a twist)

Personalized learning—with a twist

The Canadian ed-tech startup Learning Bird hopes to personalize learning using a “differentiated learning algorithm” that determines how each child learns best and then delivers appropriate resources from a crowdsourced portal of learning materials.

What’s more, teachers whose contributed materials are rated the highest by students can earn a share of the company’s revenue.

At the heart of Learning Bird’s service is a system of online lessons from multiple perspectives, which means that on any given topic there are several different lessons—created by different teachers—that take different approaches to teaching the topic.

If students get stuck, they can look for materials that better meet their learning style. “Sometimes all they need is a different perspective or approach to the topic in order to get it,” the company explains on its website.

The system is driven by a technology that “learns” how each child learns best, so it can suggest similar resources to that student in the future, said Michael Campbell, head of sales and marketing for Learning Bird.

The service launched this spring with content in math, science, and the humanities. The majority of content so far targets grades 6-12, but Learning Bird will be adding more content for elementary students, Campbell said.

To ensure the content is high quality, contributors must be teachers who are certified in the relevant subject area. The service costs about $12 per student, per year, for schools—and it’s also available to families for $20 per month or $145 per year.

Four more ed-tech announcements

FrontRow’s new Juno Connect system allows educators to control classroom AV technology with only their voice. Without having to pause their instruction, teachers can control projectors, displays, and other devices that have an IP address.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has launched a new online math service aimed at families. Called Go Math! Academy, it draws on the videos and other content from HMH’s Go Math! digital curriculum for students in grades K-6 to provide personalized math help for students at home, for $10 per month or $80 per year.

There are some online services that already provide math tutoring and enrichment for students at home at no cost, such as Khan Academy and TenMarks. What sets HMH’s new product apart from these other services is that “it’s based on an established, trusted, and market-leading brand for K-6 content,” said Paul Murphy, vice president of the company’s New Markets Studio. What’s more, he said, students can choose their own themes to help guide them through the material.

NetSupport has added more functionality to its classroom management software for Chrome users. The company already had a Student App for Chrome that allowed teachers to connect with students using Chromebooks from a Windows or Mac computer. Now, with the new NetSupport School Tutor app for Chrome OS, teachers can remotely interact with student Chromebooks from their own Chrome-based system—making NetSupport unique in offering both a student and teacher solution for Chromebook environments, the company says.

The NetSupport School Tutor app for Chrome OS allows teachers to view thumbnail displays of students’ Chromebook screens on their own Chrome device; zoom in for a clearer view of the activity on a particular machine; control and block students’ internet activity; send group or private messages to students; and poll students.

Through a partnership with MAXIMUS, maker of the special-education management software TIENET, Pearson’s PowerSchool student information system now includes a complete case management and reporting system for educators.

The system, called PowerSchool Special Education Powered by TIENET, allows educators who use PowerSchool to manage and monitor the entire special education process—including pre-referral, eligibility, IEP development, service documentation, reporting to parents, 504 plans, and personalized education programs—as well as support Medicaid billing, all from a single sign-on, Pearson said.

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Dennis Pierce

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