On Tuesday, at SXSWedu, Edmodo announced that it is opening its API to third party developers to allow them to develop educational apps across their Edmodo platform. With over six million users globally it is not an insignificant announcement as edtech companies jostle for space in the education sector. The value to Edmodo is that it helps shift it from being just a platform for teachers and students to manage the learning process, to being a delivery system for education app developers directly into schools.
Those interested in the business side of things will talk about market share and capacity of Edmodo to deliver apps and keep developers interested in designing for their platform in a market saturated with platforms (iOS anyone? Android?). But, this was not the most interesting or powerful part of the announcement.
The real strength of the announcement I think is in the "Teacher-Developer Exchange." It was below the fold in the press release, but CEO Nic Borg is on a winner in seeing the value teachers can bring to the development process. For too long we have had developers flying solo with out the pedagogical expertise, which means the way teachers used apps were often not how they were intended. If suddenly we significantly increase the volume of teacher-developer engagement in say an agile development process the quality of edtech products we will get at the end of the development process will be far greater.
"Teachers know what works in the classroom -- they're inventing new ways to connect with students every day," said Nic Borg. "By bridging the expertise of great classroom teachers with developers who can create the tools that educators are seeking and conceiving, we think the possibilities are boundless."
Perhaps not boundless, but I've been advising teachers who are embracing edtech to engage with developers and tell them what they need for a long time. The best educational tools are developed in conjunction with those amazing people who are in the classroom each and everyday coming up with new ideas based on their experience and interaction with students. And, that is why the "Teacher-Developer Exchange" is more significant than any other part of this announcement. Edmodo have made a big statement about the importance and value of teachers, and they have done that in the context that they know the students learning requirements better than anyone else.
We need more educational technology companies realizing that there is a base level of expertise, knowledge and experience required to do edtech well and it comes from teachers and educators. They need to be involved and engaged in development from day one -- not as testers once the whole process has been complete. Ask them about Robert Gange, ask them about Howard Gardner and build technology that really can innovate learning.