Partnership With Blackboard!

Recently, we at StudyTree solidified our partnership with Blackboard. We are extremely excited for what this development means for us moving forward, and the institutions that we can have even further integration with. Here is some background information for those of you that enjoy the details.

What is an LMS?

Most college students have no idea what this acronym stand for but they have all in one way shape or form used an LMS. Now if you’re unfamiliar with all of this; The acronym is popular in the EdTech startup world, referring to a system that organizes information for schools. Ever heard of Blackboard? Moodle? or Canvas? Yes those are LMS and it stands for Learning Management System. It’s basically one behemoth platform that allows the institutions in education to communicate between the administrators, instructors and most importantly the students.

The Market

Now let’s get into the market of these Learning Management Systems. Don’t worry we won’t get into the boring details, let’s just summarize that Blackboard, Moodle and Canvas collectively control almost 75% of the market for institutions of higher education. The LMS market by the numbers is pretty staggering in regards to who is running the show, especially to StudyTree. For us trying to operate within higher education, it is imperative that we partner with these companies to offer the most that we can to our clients… while avoiding competition when we don’t need to.  

FERPA

We all love and hate FERPA depending on which side of the educational wall you’re on. Students love this when they’re trying to hide their poor performance in class from their parents. And parents hate this when they’re trying to find out how their kids are performing and legally can’t. Well for the greater good, FERPA protects everyone from releasing any kind of information to anyone. At StudyTree, we are not trying to create an “uber for tutor” platform. We are striving to create powerful platforms for students and institutions themselves to enhance the learning environment and drive success. So the question is, how do you do this without the information on the student’s performance? and notify them when they’re at risk? Well the answer is simple, you can’t.

What Now? New Partnership

We wanted to create a system within StudyTree that would notify any “high risk” student who is underperforming in class. So how do we do this without all the FERPA restrictions to access student’s data? We needed access to their grades to get this new addition to the platform started. There were some interesting options to be FERPA compliant. We could have just applied for the certification, of course this would mean we would have to go through some rigorous and extremely time consuming process. As a startup, we were scaling, not stalling and this was the last thing that we wanted to do in regards to time sensitivity. Another way was to hire and contract a FERPA certified information technology company to handle all of our traffic. Again we didn’t want to waste our funding on a big IT contract. I mean obviously it’s not our bread and butter but we wanted to make StudyTree better with this notification feature. There was only one option left, partnerships.

Ethan had met someone from Blackboard during his invite to EDUCAUSE 2015, the biggest institution of higher education conference in the country. After reaching out to Blackboard, we got a meeting with a representative. Which later turns out, that’s all we really needed. By the time we ended our conference call with the Blackboard representative, we knew exactly how we would integrate with their LMS. This would open up an entire new door to StudyTree’s notification feature and access to all the pre-existing institutions that are using Blackboard. Partnering with Blackboard has been the biggest validation for our platform to this point.

We’re taking big steps into EdTech and into institutions of higher learning with our partnership with Blackboard. We are excited to see what we will do next with Blackboard and new partners as we move forward.

Yoshi’s Story

I’m a St. Paul, Minnesota native and attended Tartan Senior High School just outside of the city. After graduation I decided to enlisted in The United States Army. I picked up a lot of valuable habits and philosophies, but I wanted more. So, during my four year tenure in the military, I decided that I wanted to further my education at Drexel University. It was a pretty big step transitioning from the military to not just civilian life, but into academia. I was out of school for more than four, almost five years now. My memory for basic algebra severely needed a refresher. I think the biggest obstacle during this transition was the inability to keep up with my classmates. I knew I needed an outlet or some kind of solution to help my full acclimation into academia. StudyTree was actually an extremely useful tool for me to overcome these obstacles.

The GI Bill that paid for my tuition and expenses here at Drexel required me to maintain a 2.5 GPA every term. I’ll admit I came close to losing eligibility for the GI Bill with a 2.8 GPA during my Winter and Spring term. Conveniently the one term that I decided to use StudyTree’s resources, I finished with a 3.5 GPA and 3.9 the following term.

After realizing how viable the platform was to my success I thought it would be a great tool for my social fraternity. As Vice President of Tau Kappa Epsilon, I am responsible for the academic performance of my fraternity’s members. I figure StudyTree would be a great platform to design our chapter’s academic program around. We immediately saw StudyTree as a perfect fit for the fraternity’s academic program. A lot of fraternities have some halfway programs for their members who are academically under performing. I know before adopting StudyTree, our chapter’s academic program consisted of a study session at the library once, maybe twice a week for those under performing members. This was supposed to help increase their academic performance but no one had the same concentration or worked at different paces. The only thing we were really accomplishing with this method was fulfilling the required study time; completely disregarding of how the members performed. Since integrating StudyTree into our academic program, our average GPA has increased from 2.8 in 2014 to a 3.1 by the end of 2015.

It is such an easy platform for our members to get the help that they need. Our members who are performing well academically are also able to apply through the university to tutor other students as an outreach initiative to increase our chapter’s campus engagement. It’s a pretty versatile application for greek chapters to increase their campus engagement but most importantly improve their membership’s academic performance. The absolute last thing we want is to remove a member for under performing in the classroom. We as the greek community pride ourselves in our performance on campus and StudyTree is a great tool for our academic success.

Introduction to StudyTree (from a current user)

What is StudyTree?

StudyTree is a platform that creates a peer-to-peer learning community on institutional campuses.  

 

How does it work?

Students use their smartphones to make requests and university tutors are notified instantly. They can instant-message, meet up and start the study session.  From StudyTree’s website,  administrators can manage their tutors and view all the data analytics on the tutoring sessions.

 

What can it do for my school?

StudyTree can handle the entire process of managing your tutors as well as creating a dynamic system helping your students get as much tutoring help as possible using their mobile devices. With the review system, you can see which tutors are doing outstanding work and address those not doing the best work for your students.

 

What has it been doing at other schools?

At Drexel, it has helped the LeBow Business school streamline the process of tutoring. Even now, sessions are being created everyday for Math, Econ, Business, and various other majors.

 

Who are they talking to right now?

StudyTree is currently talking to Temple University, Messiah College, DeSales University, and Montgomery Community College.