ClassDojo, CourseKit, Flat World Knowledge, and Piazza

[Note: Snagged spotlights some of the latest and most stimulating articles on educational technology. I learned about Michael Staton’s article from Thomas Ho‘s Diigo group notification this morning. Please send your catch of the day to me,, for possible snagging. -Editor]

Michael Staton, in “Eleven Tech Factors That Changed Education in 2011” (Mashable Tech, 12.21.11), provides a wealth of links to explore. They are listed under 11 categories — see the list below. I clicked on some that were free, open, and geared for instructors: Flat World Knowledge, Piazza, CourseKit, and ClassDojo. Flat World Knowledge is like wiki books but retains the look and feel of more traditional publications. I was interested in college composition textbooks and found only one entry. It’s very good, but it didn’t fit my needs. Still, I can imagine referring students to certain chapters. (See update below.)

Piazza and CourseKit are simple CMSs (course management systems). With Piazza, I had difficulty setting up my college. It tried to force me into a different campus in our university system. (See update below.) Getting started in CourseKit was easier, but the calendar templates are limited and didn’t fit my needs. I really like the concept of ClassDojo. I immediately got the feeling that this is a tool developed by an imaginative teacher in the trenches. It’s a quick way to comment on student behavior in class, providing a means to shape positive actions via analytics. All the students are listed on a single page. Click on one. Select from the preconfigured list of behaviors, and click. The information is automatically processed and distributed. Fast. Simple. Effective.

ClassDojo makes me wish for a similar tool that would facilitate the evaluation of student papers. As I read a paper in one window, the etool (evaluation tool) would be open in another. I would click on categories and specific items in the etool, and the information would be automatically gathered for the paper and added to the cumulative stats for the writer. The results would automatically be sent to the writer.

In reviewing offerings such as these, we need to keep in mind that they are in formative stages and designed around specific needs. We have the opportunity to participate in their development as well as create similar tools for ourselves and our colleagues.

1. The UnCollege Movement Begins
2. The Ecosystem of Innovation Gets the Fuel it Needs
3. The Death of the Traditional Textbook
4. Gates Foundation Backs Education as a Venture Investor
5. Private Equity Bets on Education Giants
6. The Big LMS Gets Some Competition
7. New Tools for Early Adopter Instructors
8. Edmodo Builds First Whole Network of K-12 Users
9. Chegg Buys Its Way Into a Network of Post-Secondary Users
10. Professional Development Is Easy for Tech Entrepreneurs
11.  Schools Are Scaling, and so Are Professors

Please share your thoughts with us as a comment to this article. If you encounter problems posting, email your comment to me and I’ll post it for you. -Jim (
Update 1.4.12: Nick LaVassar (User Operations, Piazza), contacted me via email on Jan. 3 after reading this article. They fixed the registration problem and are taking steps to prevent similar recurrences. Courteous and quick response!

Update 1.4.12: See Brad Felix’s (Chief Learning Officer, Flat World Knowledge) reply in the comments section.

3 Responses

  1. Jim:

    Thanks for featuring my Diigo group which I have been using to highlight a subset of the many URLs I bookmark in Diigo. Whenever you “snag” any of my bookmarks, let me know so I can make a point to curate that bookmark using Diigo’s powerful tools for highlighting and annotation. That will also demonstrate Diigo’s considerable capabilities to those who are motivated to join Diigo.

    • Hi, Thomas. I was planning to let you know but got caught up with other tasks and forgot. Terrific article!

  2. Jim,

    Thanks for the quick review of Flat World Knowledge. Note a large part of our mission is around the ability to customize the text — with a few clicks you can delete the chapters you don’t use, and reorder the ones you do. Annotate at will. And even change the existing content to truly match your needs.

    Thanks again,
    Brad Felix
    Chief Learning Officer
    Flat World Knowledge

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