When I taught my first college class, I was issued a green spiral-bound gradebook. I transferred the names from my roster into the ledger by hand. I devised my own special coding system to mark students absent or tardy. At the end of the semester, I did the all the calculations manually to figure out everyone's grades. The process was time-consuming. When a student asked for an impromptu update on her or his grade, math-phobic me was panicky. The gradebook was a pencil-smudged mess. And even so, when the university switched to an online learning management system, I was reluctant to forgo the paper grade-tracking process.
That was a long time ago, of course, the dark ages of 2005 or so, and since then that LMS (Blackboard), along with companies like Engrade and SnapGrades have released numerous administrative software tools. So at first, I thought it was a bit bold when LearnBoost co-founder Rafael Corrales told me that he thought his startup's real competitors for its new online gradebook weren't these companies - they were pencil and paper. But then I thought about my own experiences as a(n overworked) teacher adopting new tools, and reckoned he was right. If an online gradebook is going to gain wide adoption, it needs to be dead-quick to master and incredibly easy-to-use.
LearnBoost launches today, and it is just that.
LearnBoost's gradebook allows you to quickly and easily manage class rosters, grades, and assignments. The calendar promises Google integration and tracks class periods, assignments, and other events. Lesson plans can be added and tagged with the appropriate curriculum standards. The interface of Learnboost's tool is very intuitive, and as a teacher sets up a class (an import feature is coming soon), a walkthrough at the bottom guides them though adding students and making a seating chart.
A secure web-based application, a teacher can adopt LearnBoost's gradebook without going through the school or district for procurement. Unlike some of the comparable products on the market, the tool is free, although LearnBoost plans to offer a premium service when entire schools adopt it. "We are really leveraging the power of the Internet to reach teachers and schools effectively so that in the end we can save schools a lot of money while also giving them fantastic software," says Corrales.
LearnBoost has received a lot of kudos already from teachers, and prior to today's launch the startup boasted a couple of a hundred signups.
But the excitement about LearnBoost isn't solely in the educational community. LearnBoost's open sourced projects - Mongoose for storage and Socket.io for real-time communication - have attracted more than a thousand project followers on GitHub in only a few months.
LearnBoost is off to a good start for the school year, recently announcing a $975,000 round of seed funding.