As classes begin around the country, technology platform Edmodo has announced that it is shutting down after almost 15 years of serving teachers and students at no cost.
The company, which says it has more than 100 million users worldwide, created a space for teachers to distribute content, quizzes, and assignments, as well as a way to maintain communication with students, colleagues, and parents.
Edmodo’s services will officially close its operations Sept. 22. News of the decision — landing as the new school year kicks off in many states — hit hard for many educators, who vented on social media about the loss of a platform they’d come to rely on.
“After more than a decade of ensuring Edmodo can stay a free tool for all, we have found that it is no longer viable for us to maintain the level of service you deserve and that we can take pride in ourselves,” the company wrote on its website. “As a result, we have made the difficult decision to shut down Edmodo.com.”
While the company did not respond to requests for comment, it acknowledged in a post on its site that the decision would disappoint its users.
“We could not have done it without your continued loyalty and contribution to our global community,” Edmodo officials said. “We apologize for any inconvenience this news may cause.”
According to its website, all accounts will be permanently deleted upon company closure, along with materials created within those accounts.
In the coming weeks, users will need to manually export files from their accounts in order to hold onto any resources they don’t want to lose.
While the site includes instructions for educators about how to download and screenshot content, educators on social media wondered why this announcement is coming so close to the date of shutdown, and how they’ll be able to recreate years of time and energy they’ve invested in the platform.
“The big challenge is the short duration of time between this announcement and when they’re going to literally shut the lights at a time of year — back to school — when lots of folks are just ramping up,” said Adam Newman, founding partner of Tyton Partners, a strategy consulting firm in the education landscape.
Ed-tech companies are sometimes willing to maintain older versions of their services for a relatively long period of time, so that educators can transition to something else. “There is an abruptness to this,” he said.
“They’re providing about five weeks for folks to figure out an alternative for those who depend upon or use Edmodo fairly regularly.”
Edmodo’s reach has been global. For Elmar Francisco, an educator at the Technological University of the Philippines, his first thought when he saw Edmodo’s announcement was how he was going to migrate seven years’ worth of intellectual property curated in his account.
“For the files, I think I can still download it all, although it’s a hassle activating all the archived classes,” Francisco said in an online exchange with EdWeek Market Brief.
But he said there was an emotional attachment to his engagement with students and others in an online community. “What I cannot back up are all the messages, announcements, and my interaction with my students,” he wrote.
Francisco has used the Edmodo platform across jobs at three schools because of how interactive and user-friendly it is, and because it is free, he said.
In comments on social media, other educators wondered why the company couldn’t monetize the platform, especially during a time when there’s high demand for virtual learning.
Edmodo first launched in 2008 as one of the early teacher-led viral adoption products. Its freemium model was one of the first to pave the way for subsequent companies that followed similar strategies in the education space.
“There’s a fairly large graveyard of businesses in the education sector who tried the freemium model and struggled and weren’t able to make that transition from user adoption to a more stable and sustainable revenue stream through school or district purchasing,” Newman said. “[Edmodo], in some ways, may have been a victim of their early success in terms of the rapid rate of adoption.”
There could be many reasons why companies are unable to make the free-to-paid shift, Newman said, including an inability to invest in infrastructure, a competitive marketplace, or even a company’s internal culture.
It’s always better if ed-tech platforms that are shutting down can help their audience have a soft landing by transitioning to other products – but they don’t always have that luxury, he said.
Although Edmodo has not recommended alternative products to its users, the company said in its online statement that upon account termination at the end of September, personal data will not be shared, transferred, or sold to any third party, and will not be accessible or recoverable, even by Edmodo.
“I give kudos to them for being pretty forthright and transparent about their plans for the data,” Newman said, “which is not always the case with organizations.”
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