Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlined a new push to get more technology in the classroom. It’s easier said than done. While a lot of schools are adopting new technologies like Student Response Systems (SRS), social networks for the classroom, and electronic textbooks, there’s still the problem of infrastructure. Digital textbooks don’t do much good if the classroom doesn’t have enough tablets or computers to go around. And none of it makes any difference if the school doesn’t even have WiFi.
It’s kind of like the dilemma with electric vehicles. You can make the cars, but it doesn’t make a difference if people don’t have a place to recharge them. That infrastructure is what iSchool Campus is looking to provide. Launched in 2011, the company offers a “smart school” system to K-12 schools that integrates mobile devices across an entire school via a wireless network. ISchool Campus announced Wednesday that it has raised $2 million of a total $4 million Series A round from Crocker Ventures.
Since iSchool Campus launched last year, it has outfitted 12 schools across eight states with its “smart school” system, which consists of a high-speed wireless network , one-to-one iPads for each student and teacher, an iMac Lab, Macbook Pros for each teacher, HD TVs, a remote audio system, classroom management software, and ongoing professional development. Not too shabby.
As you might imagine, the cost is pretty steep, at some $600 per student. But CEO William Nixon says that schools are seeing some big turnarounds after integrating the “smart school” system. One school, he said, went from last place in reading comprehension to first place in its state.
There are plenty of case studies demonstrating the power adopting technology in the classroom. The district of Mooresville, North Carolina became famous for issuing laptops to all of its 4th through 12th grade students three years ago. The result: when compared with all of the other districts in North Carolina, Mooresville comes in third in test scores and second in graduation rates.
“We are thrilled with how fast the platform has gained traction, particularly with public schools in several states,” said Nixon. “We are also seeing interest from professional training centers, both government agencies and private companies. Interestingly, we have a lot of interest from international organizations, in areas such as China and Turkey and others, that see great benefit in our platform and model.”
“Our team was particularly impressed with the totally seamless, integrated student-teacher experience provided by the easily implemented and intuitive iSchool Campus hardware and software platform,” said Gary Crocker of Crocker Ventures, in a statement. “Many state government officials regard the system as a practical yet revolutionary solution to our public school challenges.”