Q&A with a little blue robot that was not like other kids

The EdTech Show Daily newspaper of the 2015 Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC), which just concluded, ran an interview with Edsby, the blue alien/robot mascot of the Edsby learning management system for K-12.


I understand you’re from the future?
Yep. My father was something of a notorious chainsmoking metalworking bot and my mother was an Andorian. I was transported back here to bring K-12 learning management into the future.

How are you doing that?
Our software product Edsby is a modern, cloud-based learning management system (LMS) for K-12 school districts that uses latest web and mobile technologies to connect teachers, students and parents in exciting new ways.

Edsby has tightly integrated features like social learning, school news, group collaboration, assessment management, timetables and calendars, course planning, report cards, attendance and more. And they work district-wide, so districts can bring ALL their teachers and students into the future at the same time.

What sets it apart?
Unlike other LMSes, which were developed for higher education or corporate learning, Edsby is designed specifically for K-12 school districts. And to make rollouts quick and to minimize ongoing administration, it integrates tightly with existing school district systems, leveraging data and security policies that already exist. And it allows for deep customization, even while being cloud-based, while similar systems don’t.

You’re working with some famous humans to do this, yes?
Yes. The team at Edsby has been developing educational software for almost 30 years. It’s the original team behind FirstClass, a messaging and collaboration product used by school districts around the world and still widely used in K-12. Their close relationships with education customers over three decades have given them insights into problems faced by teachers, students, parents and administrators. This gave them inspiration to create Edsby—something completely new for schools based on latest software technology.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve faced so far?
Well, they made fun of me a lot at school for looking different.

No, I mean at the company.
Oh. Well, #1 has been tending to our largest customer to date. With almost 300,000 users, one school district in Florida uses Edsby extensively. We’ve optimized and customized the system to perform quickly and reliably for it. Its use of Edsby is staggering. Virtually all 300,000 students, parents and teachers use the system regularly.

Another challenge is that K-12 education is very regional. Even neighboring school districts often have radically different ways of assessing and reporting kids’ academic progress. Systems like Edsby have to be built to connect to a wide variety of regional databases, embrace a wide variety of assessment schemes (e.g. letter grades vs. percentage grades) and report card formats. Luckily, the company was aware of this from day one, and designed its product to take these requirements into account.

Is Edsby a boy or a girl?
Yes. No. Oh, that’s so outdated. What does it matter?!