Remember high school? Do you remember ever using the excuse “I didn’t know what the assignment was!” all the time? (I do. I really do.) Remember how bogus it always sounded? Well now, any student in a classroom using the online utility Engrade can never claim to not know what the assignment was.
Engrade was conceived by Bri Holt in 2003 while he was still in high school. He found it frustrating that he and his classmates had no real way to view their grades online. A savvy web developer even as a teenager, he conceived of his own online classroom management site, providing the basis for what would become Engrade. The free gradebook found traction with web-friendly educators and grew to encompass a user base of over 400,000 teachers. The open-source platform allows teachers and students to keep track of grades, assignments and attendance.
Now, investment group Rethink Education has spearheaded a fundraising effort which slipped a cool $3 million into Engrade’s coffers. The funds are intended to allow Engrade to become the top name in online classroom management (if it wasn’t already), unifying it into a single platform. Think Facebook for teachers. (Its logo already kind of looks like Facebook, doesn’t it?)
“The team at Engrade is redesigning education technology from the ground up, starting with a learning management system and now a state-level instructional improvement system with unprecedented power, flexibility, and ease of use,” Matthew Greenfield of Rethink Education said, who joined Engrade’s board.
According to an article on newschools.org, Engrade currently has “4.5 million users, including more than 400,000 teachers in all 50 states. Engrade counts the New York City Department of Education, KIPP, North Star Academy, and Chapel Hill – Carrboro City Schools among its diverse user base, demonstrating the flexibility of the Engrade platform.”
Engrade appears to be a viable option for all manners of educators. At present, its usage appears most popular in public education as opposed to colleges and universities, who favor course management systems like Blackboard. What’s so different about Engrade? Two words: Open. Source. Engrade is free, simple as that. For teachers in smaller institutions or in systems which do not contract with one of the fee-based services, Engrade is a solid option for bringing the report card online.