Episode #459: How ClassDojo is using mobile in the classroom to change student behaviour – with co-founder Sam Chaudhary

Episode #459

It takes a certain type of person to decide to get into a business that services the education market. It takes a certain type of company to attack a behaviour challenge in the classroom and do it with an altruistic intent. This is where Sam Chaudhary and the company he co-founded, ClassDojo decided to play.

Education is undergoing an incredibly disruptive period – one which finds the disruption starting outside the classroom putting considerable pressures on the teachers, the schools and the parents. Balance is almost impossible when the students are exposed to technologies that make learning more accessible and customized outside of the classroom. Much of the focus of mobile in education has been focused on this aspect, the delivery of courses and content, with comparatively little effort inside the classroom on behaviour change and you can understand why.

How does this company affect change in an industry that has struggled lately in so many facets – none of them more so than budget cuts leading to service cuts. ClassDojo has managed to engage millions of teachers across the United States, enraptured an eclectic group of investors whose beliefs about the education system are in sync while having had a positive effect on the learning lives of students across the country.

Sam is an earnest founder with a clear, gigantic vision that involves creating a better learning and reward system inside and outside of the classroom. He’s not just talking about changing the way students learn, he’s talking about changing the way society acts. Lofty, but as I said in the episode, when he succeeds economists, educators, governments and we – the parents – will know where it started. Right here. With Sam.


Here is a quick reference of what we covered in the show. Click on the link and the video will take you to that clip

1. What is ClassDojo 1:50
2. Why enter an industry that tries to change behaviour? 4:20
3. How did you end up starting ClassDojo? 5:45
4. Where is the education industry today? 8:20
5. Did you always think mobile first? 11:00
6. How did you get 12,000 users in 5 weeks? 12:30
7. What is the typical classroom experience 15:50
8. What kind of behaviour change happens to the teachers as a result of ClassDojo 19:35
9. How does ClassDojo make money? 20:50
10. What about the behaviour of giving things away for free and then start charging 24:00
11. Is it hard to build a business that makes an impact versus what we see in silicon valley today? The long term impact vs the quick flip 26:35
12. Is it better to start a company outside the education market and contribute to education through their success? 32:30
13. Who should take the lead in funding the transformation education? 34:20
14. How do you avoid the shiny toy syndrome for apps in the school? 36:30
15. What kind of impact are you seeing from the classroom as a result of ClassDojo 38:35
16. Does ClassDojo make it too easy to give praise? Does it devalue it? 42:00
17. Biggest lesson you would do again 44:20
18. What trends are you watching that may have an impact on your business 45:30
19. What is the most important message to come from ClassDojo 49:50

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About Sam Chaudhary
Sam Chaudhary ClassDojoSam studied quantitative economics at Cambridge University, and went on to work as a teacher for several years following. Sam subsequently worked in the Education arm of the consultancy firm McKinsey & Co in London, and then left to start ClassDojo with his co-founder Liam Don. Class Dojo raised seed capital from the Palo Alto-based education technology incubator ImagineK12.

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of UNTETHER.tv and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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