Since its launch in 2011, the “ed-tech” app ClassDojo has played a pivotal role in updating classrooms across the world, modernizing the student support system with the tools to keep teachers, parents and administrators on the same page. Built to track communication and ease reporting between parents and teachers, the app is used to share photos, videos, and messages through the school day, bringing experiences to life in the classroom and back at home. The app has evolved over the years to go beyond a communication tool, producing and releasing its own series of educational curriculum. This summer, ClassDojo and child development expert Dr. Michele Borba have teamed up to create The Summer Kindness Series – a weekly installment of ideas and activities meant to be used between kids and parents to start the conversation around emotional learning, nurturing the child’s empathetic qualities and teaching kindness. Every week, the users will be introduced to a positive habit along with easy ways to put them into action, ushering in a new wave of possibilities in the realm of educational technology.
In its short lifetime, ClassDojo has seen enormous, wildfire growth. Translated into 35 languages and introduced in 180 countries, the app has always remained free for teachers and students. In June of 2017, Forbes reported that the company reaches a global daily 1% of the roughly 700 million children ages K-8 – more than 10 million kids and growing. The application is used in roughly nine out of ten school districts in the United States alone, making it a tool almost as pervasive as the classroom essentials like pencils and paper. Muhammed Chaudhry, CEO of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, says the gamification of the student/teacher relationship succeeded in turning ClassDojo into “the most widely used and respected behavioral-management app out there.”
The company’s rapid growth prompted big investments and swift expansion, and the bulk of resources were dedicated to ClassDojo’s mission of creating a new style of educational content. In 2016, the app partnered with Stanford University to produce a five-episode video series to present the character development curriculum titled Growth Mindset. With an audience of over 15 million students – approximately one of every four K-8 students in the U.S. – the videos went beyond reading and writing and arithmetic, introducing social and emotional learning tools for students, opening facets of the conversation that have typically been ignored in traditional education. Academic studies have found that ClassDojo helped to increase students’ motivation, positivity, self-control and engagement while ultimately reducing behavioral problems.
The success of the Stanford series Growth Mindset led ClassDojo to further collaboration, creating emotional-ed project called Big Ideas, featuring Perseverance with Stanford, Empathy with Harvard and Mindfulness with Yale. The production of Social and Emotional Curriculum (SEL) has gained nationwide attention, and ClassDojo is leading the charge. These core characteristics are proven to be critical to early childhood development, and traits like emotional stability, openness and agreeableness are more frequently reported to be as or even more important than cognitive intelligence in determining future success. The Summer Kindness Series is the next in line for ClassDojo, a nine-week program focusing on “9 essential habits that work together to unlock empathy and inspire kind action.” Every Thursday starting June 21, ClassDojo will distribute information introducing a new kindness habit, encouraging users to put the habit into practice with tips, ideas and activities for parents and kids. In educating young children in emotional issues, these series lay the groundwork to help kids identify and manage emotions, set positive goals, feel and show empathy, establish and maintain positive relationships and be accountable for their actions.
“There’s never been a greater need than now for empathy education, and The Summer Kindness Series is a wonderful way to raise awareness that empathy can be taught, learned, and practiced, just like swimming or soccer,” said Dr. Borba, co-creator of the series, child development expert and author of UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, the book that spawned the project. “It’s exciting to get to work with ClassDojo on this series, with their reach to millions of families in the U.S. and around the world. When families and teachers work as a team, the impact on kids is tremendous.”
With the successes of Big Ideas and The Summer Kindness Series, ClassDojo sees a bright future for potential opportunities in digital curriculum. As their app has always been free with the vow to keep it that way, the strategy for monetizing revolves around eliminating the outdated locker full of heavy books, bringing digital learning to kids’ fingertips. “Schools are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for curriculum and software that’s delivered in boxes,” said Liam Don, ClassDojo co-founder and chief technology officer. “With the kind of reach that we’ve got here and if we can really power every classroom in that kind of scale, we can eliminate so much of that cost.” Pair ClassDojo’s massive scope with the introduction of popular and valuable SEL curriculum, and the young company may just have a revolution on its hands. ClassDojo CEO and co-founder Sam Chaudhary explains, “if we can shift what happens inside and around classrooms, then you can change education at a huge scale.”
The Summer Kindness Series content will be released every Thursday, June 21 through August 16, available at http://www.classdojo.com/summer-kindness-series and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #SummerKindnessSeries.