Nearpod is trying to get kids more engaged in learning through technologies such as virtual reality. And today the Laurene Powell Jobs-backed company is acquiring Flocabulary, a maker of a student creativity platform.
Flocabulary uses educational hip-hop to engage students and increase achievement. With Flocabulary, the Miami-based Nearpod said it will bring more culturally relevant and media-rich content into the classroom. Together, Nearpod and Flocabulary are used by teachers in 97% of the largest U.S. districts.
“Creating awesome lesson plans is hard work and doing it with music is a hundred times harder,” said Nearpod CEO Guido Kovalskys, in a statement. “But in a world where student engagement is the biggest challenge faced by teachers, we are convinced that the future of educational content is much closer to Flocabulary’s unique combination of hip-hop and educational rigor than to a textbook, regardless of being print or digital.”
This partnership comes at a time when student engagement is cited as a top priority by 91% of superintendents. However, Gallup surveys find student engagement drops as they move through school. By 11th grade, only 32% of students feel engaged in the classroom. This lack of student engagement has also been linked to challenges such as chronic absenteeism and poor academic performance.
The companies said their combined solutions can help schools deal with this student engagement crisis. Research shows that engagement and achievement increase when students’ interests and voices are respected and reflected in the classroom.
Flocabulary’s culturally relevant, media-rich content captures student interest and inspires creativity. Nearpod elevates student voice by providing a variety of ways for all students to learn and demonstrate their understanding.
“Equipping teachers with the resources they need to facilitate contemporary and challenging classroom experiences is a top priority for Broward County,” said Dan Gohl, chief academic officer of Broward County Public Schools, the sixth largest school district in the country, in a statement. “The combination of Nearpod and Flocabulary, both used by educators in Broward, signals the creation of a new category of learning tools aligned with both the needs of the modern classroom — and the aspirations of today’s learners.”
And Flocabulary CEO Alex Rappaport said in a statement, “Flocabulary has always been defined by our mission of bringing joy and creativity to classrooms. We are thrilled to join forces with Nearpod, which will significantly accelerate our ability to support teachers and help students engage with the rigorous academic content they need to be successful in the classroom and beyond.”
Founded in 2004 by teachers and musicians who believed in the transformative potential of hip-hop in the classroom, Flocabulary has evolved into a resource for U.S. teachers and students.
Following the acquisition, Nearpod will have a combined team of 200 employees headquartered in Miami. As part of Nearpod, Flocabulary’s team of 60 will continue to operate out of their Brooklyn, New York office.
Nearpod is backed by Insight Partners, Reach Capital, GSV Acceleration Fund, Storm Ventures, the Stanford-StartX Fund, Krillion Ventures, The Knight Foundation, and Miami Angels, as well as Marc Benioff and Scott Cook and wife Signe Ostby.