Teaching made easy online with Engrade
Here you were thinking that online educational tools were only for students, well Engrade is here to prove otherwise. Launching in 2003, Engrade combined essential teacher tools like calendars, grade books, and attendance sheets into one, simple, online platform. The goal was to help teachers spend less time dealing with all the headaches of paperwork, and more time helping the students in the classroom.
But students can use the platform as well. Whether it is checking their grades, or checking their calendar to organize upcoming assignments, students have started using Engrade with great success. Apparently teachers liked the idea as well as now more than 300,000 teachers use Engrade to lessen their burden. But students and parents can use the platform as well.
We spoke with CEO Zack Posner about how Engrade has been able to have such success and what they plan to improve upon in the future. Enjoy!
When was Engrade founded and by whom?
Engrade was founded in 2003 with a single mission: to help teachers. Our CTO, Bri Holt founded Engrade as an online gradebook to improve communication and student performance, and since then Engrade has developed a suite of analytical and collaboration tools for classrooms, schools, and districts.
Where did the founder(s) come up with the idea of this integrated platform?
In visiting schools and districts, our team found that teachers had access to several different tools for managing the classroom, curriculum, and assessments. In most cases, tools were being underutilized because of difficulty in accessing multiple logins or different interfaces. We realized that there was large opportunity to help educators by unifying people, tools, data, and curriculum onto one platform.
Could you introduce us to the team at Engrade and share whether their background may be relevant to the education and e-learning space?
The Engrade team is based around experienced educators and developers. Most of Engrade’s school relations team members are former teachers. Engrade’s technical team has a strong consumer web product and analytics background. We all love to build elegant tools and support teachers in ways that save time and improve student performance!
What requirements would an instructor need to meet before creating a class with Engrade?
None! Anyone can create a class on Engrade, and it is completely free for teachers. It only takes about 5 minutes to set up an account for your class.
After successfully creating a course, how much control and freedom does that instructor have delivering their curricula?
Engrade is an extremely flexible platform, and much of our success comes from the wide variety of ways instructors use our tools. Instructors have complete control over how they deliver their curriculum, as well as how they manage grades, attendance, discipline, and parent communication. The platform’s flexibility is a must, as teachers need to be able to adjust their courses to fit the needs of their specific circumstances. No two classes are the same, and we designed Engrade to reflect that reality.
Could you go into detail about some of the unique features that Engrade offers to its teachers?
We are very proud of our communication toolset – a very important part of education is the student’s experience outside of class, especially at home. To ensure that students can continue learning away from class, we offer several unique tools for fostering communication. Our Parent Alert Text Messages are automatic SMS messages sent to parents that detail the assignments a student has missed throughout the week. Teachers report that the tool is very effective at decreasing the number of missed assignments across their classes. Other communication tools include emailed reports, a secure parent-teacher messaging portal, and customized report cards.
Another popular feature is our Common Core Tracker, which gives teachers an easy way to manage student progress on the Common Core Standards. Teachers simply “tag” assignments in their grade book with one or more of the standards, and Engrade does the rest. We provide teachers with a color coded visual display so that they can gauge performance at a glance and focus their attention on problem areas. If a class is having trouble with a certain standard, say, measuring volumes with unit cubes, then the teacher can access curriculum designed specifically to teach that skill. Directly in the Engrade platform, teachers have access to a variety of different standards aligned content, so that they can select the best choice for their students.
What do teachers say is the most useful feature that helps them carry out their course successfully?
Our online grade book is really the core tool of the platform for many teachers. In one way or another, all of the other features are an extension of the grade book and the data the teachers put into it.
What are some features that students can utilize to ensure a more successful school year?
Students have access to a variety of online applications, including interactive quizzes, flashcards, wikis, calendars, and class discussions. If they have not yet tried Engrade on mobile, they should check it frequently at http://m.engrade.com.
There are so many helpful tools that are part of the Engrade student learning experience, which one(s) do you think help students stay on track the most?
Engrade really helps students with organization – keeping on top of all the work they have to do for various classes. Although it is simple, the assignment list is a student’s best friend. On this list, students see upcoming assignments and past grades with teacher feedback. Just having all of his / her class information online is a great improvement over the student experience only a few years ago, and it really prepares them for the way business is conducted in the 21st century.
With over 3,000,000 members spanning across all 50 states and 150 countries, Engrade’s exposure has been a huge hit. What school level would you say represents the majority of your members?
Although Engrade is used from Pre-K to College in schools across the globe, U.S. middle and high school students and parents make up the majority of our users.
Are there any upcoming improvements or developments planned in the near future for Engrade and its users?
Absolutely! We are always refining our current products and working on new ideas, especially those that come from our current users. Engrade team members spend a lot of time visiting schools and we get a lot of great suggestions from the teachers that use our platform.
With Engrade having such tremendous success with schools, will this model ever be used for other facets of training like in the workplace or other avenues?
As a company, we are very committed to K-12 education. We believe we have an incredible opportunity to modernize and improve education in the United States, so all of our energy is channeled towards that end. That said, I’m sure the tools we’ve built and the knowledge we’ve gained along the way could be adapted to other industries as well.