Gates Foundation-backed InBloom frees up data to personalize k-12 education

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In education, there’s no shortage of data that could theoretically help educators tailor learning experiences to each student. But because the data comes from so many different sources and in so many different formats, schools may have trouble putting it to use.

In the past year, startups like Clever and LearnSprout have started to help schools liberate their data, and larger companies have slowly begun to release APIs. But a new nonprofit launching Tuesday will hopefully help move the needle even further when it comes to bringing big data to schools.

Supported with $100 million from the Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation and others, InBloom is the outgrowth of the Shared Learning Collaborative, an alliance of states, districts, nonprofits and corporations pushing for personalized learning in the classroom.

“There is a consensus that personalized learning is the way to go,” said InBloom CEO Iwan Streichenberger. “The big question is, how to do you make it happen? How do you share data and make it accessible? We’re a catalyst — a connector between data that exists already to make it easier to access.”

InBloom stores the data and provides integration tools and services to allow schools, districts, states and other vendors to aggregate student data from Student Information Systems, testing vendors and other sources. It also helps educators find instructional content aligned with certain standards so they can match it to their students’ needs.

At launch, InBloom is working with nine states. Twenty-two education technology companies, including Clever, LearnSprout, Scholastic, Wireless Generation and Schoology, have announced plans to developed applications that will work with InBloom.

“To personalize learning, the first part is diagnostics – where are [students] on the learning path? – and the second part is, once you know where they are on the learning path, what’s the next step?,” said Streichenberger. InBloom’s services address both needs.

By creating a neutral, nonprofit group to help connect the data, the hope is that schools won’t encounter as much friction when companies and organizations want to access student data for assessment programs or other ed tech tools.

Image by Mopic via Shutterstock.

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