PowerSchool Completes Acquisition of Schoology
- By Dian Schaffhauser
As of today, one of the country's largest education software systems just got much bigger. PowerSchool has finalized its purchase of Schoology, making the learning management system the newest component in its "Unified Classroom" suite for K-12.
PowerSchool claims a user base of 45 million in 13,000 districts for software covering its flagship student information system as well as assessment and analytics (Performance Matters), special education (Unified Classroom Special Programs), grading (Unified Classroom Gradebook), talent management (Unified Talent Professional Learning) and finance, human resources and enterprise resource planning (PowerSchool Finance/HR/ERP). About half of the customer base uses the SIS, according to CEO Hardeep Gulati.
Schoology, for its part, has 20 million users, encompassing teachers, students, staff and administration, with 1,800 paying districts along with thousands of additional teachers that use a free "basic" edition of the LMS program.
"Bringing that together really creates a unique offering which hasn't been done before," said Gulati. "Teachers now can have the benefit of all that different information and [those] processes to be helped in creating those personalized, individual paths for each student, giving them more time back so they can focus more on the instruction."
Gulati hinted that about 20 percent of his company's SIS users also use Schoology, which leaves "a huge amount of customer base that will benefit from having this in our portfolio. It's great news for all of our common customers, and we have tons of them."
PowerSchool has committed to increasing development resources by 40 percent and plowing some portion of its annual $90 million research and development budget into product enhancements.
The company has also pledged to continue Schoology's support for "all" SIS platforms, as well as applications from Google, Microsoft and other third-party education tools.
The big message from leaders at both companies is that the acquisition will result ultimately in a solution that saves teachers time.
"We had a roadmap to try and identify areas where teachers are spending a lot of time, whether that's in the content creation process or curation of material or just the number of clicks and steps it takes to deliver a personalized learning experience," said Schoology CEO and Co-founder Jeremy Friedman. "The No. 1 thing that we've heard from customers over and over is, 'Can you please make the integrations more seamless with the [student information system] or our assessment provider or with various other tools?' ... Double entry is the bane of existence for teachers. They continue to struggle if they have to go to multiple systems and input the same things over and over and over. Being able to streamline that process, that's a massive benefit."
Gulati concurred: "When we asked our districts what the No. 1 system was they would like to see tightly integrated with [the] SIS, learning management systems come right on the top," he said. "Teachers today have to take attendance in the SIS system, they have to go share their assignments and content in the learning management system; they have to take an assessment in a separate assessment platform; if their kids have special needs, they have to go log that into a separate special needs environment; they have to take their own professional learning [in] a separate environment. We're bringing all that together in the Unified Classroom to give them that one-stop shop so they can have the full access .... Now they cannot just use a tool to record and do their basic job, they can also use it to create their personalized learning path, leveraging all the information I talked about across all the systems. That's something that hasn't been done before."
Areas of particular interest for the integration include:
- Gaining a "complete view" of the student;
- Embedding formative assessments for real-time feedback;
- Mapping personal learning paths based on students' individual instructional needs;
- Guiding teachers to professional learning based on their students' needs; and
- Boosting communication channels among parents, teachers and students.
Gulati said that Friedman's team was staying intact and that Schoology's LMS would continue to run as a distinct product within the Unified Classroom division.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.