Teaching 21st Century Skills Made Easy for Educators & Administrators, Shares Melissa from GoEnnounce

With growth of technology in education, it is important to teach kids about digital ethics, to help them to become responsible digital citizens and maintain a proper learner profile. With this as a mission, Melissa Davis who is the CEO at GoEnnounce shared insights about her product and journey of working with educators and administrators in an interview with EdTechReview.

1. How would you define GoEnnounce?

GoEnnounce is a safe, social, learner profile for students to track, share and leverage their unique accomplishments and goals to access opportunities.

It is an award winning, social media based, personalized learning network solution for students. It’s a learner profile tool for students to safely display & track their unique academic and extracurricular achievements year after year, to access opportunities. Our all-inclusive digital citizenship education solution provides curriculum and online classes for students, PD for teachers, and content videos for parents. This educates all parties on safe social media use and the importance of building a student’s positive digital footprint for college and career readiness.

2. What’s the core value proposition. What problem is GoEnnounce solving and for whom? 

For Teachers:

In an increasingly digital world, teachers need tools to teach students how to navigate and build a positive digital footprint.  Teachers can address the daily negative social media issues that come up in class by using GoEnnounce as an example of an empowering social media tool.  GoEnnounce provides an engaging tool for educators to work with students on building their individual, online brand. Students improve digital citizenship and digital communication skills by tracking and sharing their academic and extracurricular accomplishments with their followers and mentor network. Teachable moments occur when students post on their Student Page, as teachers assist students with their voice and how to effectively assess and share what they’ve learned & accomplished with each post. With ongoing use of GoEnnounce in the classroom students develop the important soft, people-skills that are necessary for success in college and beyond.

For Schools:

We provide schools with a cloud based SAAS social tool for students to house and showcase all accomplishments and progress. We also offer a digital citizenship education package with curriculum for students, parents & teachers.   Our comprehensive curriculum empowers students by teaching about safe and positive social media use.  We have a 10-course Digital Footprint curriculum, with a pre & post test for 7-12th grade..  Developed in partnership with ESSDACK, these lessons cover Digital Image, Digital Security, Digital Literacy, Digital Law, Digital Communication and Digital Copyright.  We also offer an online course, developed in partnership with PD Learning Network, that covers Digital Footprint,  Safe Social Media Use, Health Safety & Wellness, Digital Etiquette, Digital Literacy & Communication, Digital Commerce and Cyber Bullying. While working through each lesson, students are required to submit assessments online to demonstrate proficiency. PD Learning Network’s credentialed educators evaluate the student’s work, and upon completion of the course issue a micro-credential badge that lives on the Student’s GoEnnounce Page. 

We know Digital Citizenship is a new concept for all parties involved in educating students. We have parent content videos, developed in partnership with PD Learning Network, which mirror the 6 topics the students is learning but provide instruction from the parents’ point of view. This allows schools to make sure the education they are providing is reinforced at home.  Lastly we include an offering of teacher PD from PD Learning Network.  We don’t believe Digital Citizenship is resolved in a one time class for students. The Teacher PD educates teachers on how to continuously provide instruction to students on what it means to navigate the digital world safely and purposefully.

For Students:

We give students a tool to build their unique learner profile in their own voice.  The social setting allows students to leverage their individual accomplishments and goals to access real opportunities, including access to funding tools and exclusive scholarships. Students learn to grow and connect to a valuable network of supporters who can advance their future in educational goals and interests, while online instruction strengthens their skill set in creating a positive digital footprint. Our SAAS platform provides a storage solution for students to house all of their academic and extracurricular accomplishments year after year. The end result is students gain a competitive edge, preparing for future success by building their unique digital pathway that they would be proud to share for years to come.

3. So how many schools have you got using GoEnnounce at the moment? What has the market response been?

We just launched our product to US schools in the last 60 days and are seeing high demand across the country.  Prior to launching the product to schools with our digital citizenship curriculum package we had over 130,000 students using GoEnnounce.

4. What are the expansion plans for GoEnnounce?

We are currently developing additional digital citizenship curriculum for K – 6th grade and a version of the product for elementary students.  We envision GoEnnounce as the go-to learner profile tool for students in any grade to track and share their individual progress and achievements. 

We are also thrilled to have recently launched our first online class in collaboration with PD Learning Network (PDLN.com), allowing students to earn certified micro-credentials badges on their student profile.

We plan to increase opportunities available to students on GoEnnounce and will credential these skills via 3rd parties.  Just as adults use LinkedIn, micro-credentialing and e-portfolios/learner profiles can be a very powerful tool that improves students’ chances with admissions, scholarships and employers.

5. Who would you call your competitors? And how are you different? 

Companies such as ZeeMee and Naviance offer students e-portfolio and resume building tools for college readiness.  RaiseMe rewards students’ achievements with hypothetical micro-scholarships from universities. Companies such as Piggybacker and GoFundMe offer users a one-time crowdfunding tool for education. While these are all wonderful tools for students, GoEnnounce puts all these features in one place, and targets the life long learner as a repeat customer.

GoEnnounce is a cohesive, real-time, learner profile tool that stays with the student year after year. Achievements students receive or demonstrate on learning management systems, learning applications, RaiseMe or e-portfolio tools can be shared into a student’s GoEnnounce Student Page.  GoEnnounce becomes the place that houses all student achievement. It's not a one time resume or e-portfolio tool and the information the student shares on GoEnnoune stays with the student, not the teacher, district or LMS system. We give students a voice to brand their unique digital pathway and connect them with real opportunities, which include instruction, a mentor network and funding assistance.

A student’s GoEnnounce Student Page URL creates a positive digital footprint around academic and extracurricular achievements and becomes something colleges, scholarships, and employers want to see. The social element of students’ sharing updates, empower them to reach their goals. Students receive limitless encouragement and actual rewards from their followers and corporate sponsorship.  Other platforms, such as RaiseMe, offer hypothetical rewards that students achieve only by attending a specific university.  

Financial limitations are a huge barrier to increased student achievement. To tackle this, we’ve given students a tool to raise funds at anytime during their academic career. Our crowdfunding tool is a long-term solution, specific to education and students. We are dedicated to students creating a continued dialogue about their ongoing goals and needs. By sharing updates, students build relationships with the network that will consistently help them. GoEnnounce allows them to fundraise with this group time and time again, if needed.

We give this tool to schools with instruction on digital citizenship so the student is empowered to use GoEnnounce and other social media platforms safely and effectively. Companies such as Common Sense similarly offer amazing digital citizenship content and lesson plans. However, we don’t believe Digital Citizenship can be taught in one lesson.  Our curriculum partnerships utilize GoEnnounce as a tool, so students have a place to apply the lessons they are learning around safe and positive internet use. Ongoing use of GoEnnounce alongside our curriculum teaches students how they should behave on other social media channels and prepares students with 21st century skills to be successful in college and a globally competitive career market.

6. Walk us through GoEnnounce learning experience for any student who signs up a course on your platform?

We’ve recently launched digital lessons on GoEnnounce to certify students with skills via micro-credential badges. When a student logs in, they see an area on their page called “Go Classes”. GoEnnounce partnered with PD Learning Network to create our first class, Digital Citizen. This is an online competency-based course designed to sharpen students’ digital citizenship skills.

Schools can purchase the class for students or students can pay a small fee (just $4) to take the class on their own.  The whole course takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes and is broken up into 6 different lessons.  Students can stop and start as needed and come back anytime to continue where they left off. 

The course covers lessons on digital footprint, digital health and wellness, cyber bullying, safe use of social media, digital etiquette, and digital literacy and communication. Students watch videos, read texts, take quizzes, and must submit hands-on assessments, which include activities the students complete and share on their GoEnounce Student Page throughout the course. Upon completion, PD Learning Network's team of credentialed educators anonymously evaluate students online assessments and award a digital badge onto their Student Page (Note: no personal student information is shared during the assessment evaluation). Visitors to a Student Page can click on the badge to see the course requirements.

7. According to you, what are some of the biggest challenges of selling in education in US or globally?

Selling an innovative edtech product or curriculum to schools and districts can be challenging when the administrator wants the product but has hesitation in purchasing what he or she believes to be an important tool for students, because it doesn’t directly check the box for a mandated budget item.  Students are suffering because state budgets haven’t caught up to incorporate the new technology that’s available to advance their learning outcome.

For example, in the US we believe too much time and emphasis in the school system is spent on the importance of test scores and GPA’s for college readiness.  Not enough is being done to help students individually find their strengths and learn to understand their own interests, and more importantly how these can translate into professional goals. We are huge advocates of personalized and project based learning and wish it was more wide spread to encourage and highlight a student’s unique, personal achievements.  We provide a tool that advances a student’s own pathway and teaches the important soft skills that are necessary to be successful in the workforce.  Unfortunately, not all state budgets have a line item for this, and therefore it can be frustrating to watch an administrator scramble to figure out how to get something they want paid for. 

Also, while the increase of edtech products is awesome and at an all time high, it can be overwhelming for educators to keep up with all the new tools and apps available. Educators can get bogged down trying to keep up. Smaller edtech start-ups that offer amazing new tools can’t always keep up with the big edtech companies.

8. What are your views about the growth of Education Technology platforms/industry in general? What difference do you see in the major EdTech markets (US, India, Australia) in comparison to other countries?

Technology offers amazing capabilities to increase achievement and make learning more accessible on an individual basis; for example, learning platforms that highlight where a specific student may be falling behind or another student may be excelling. These tools allow the teacher to individually instruct those students instead of teaching a mass lesson to the entire class and risk a student getting lost because of confusion or boredom.

However, technology can’t replace the importance of one on one interaction between the teacher and the student. There needs to be a balance of offline and online learning.  Our tool for example, is an online way for students to leverage offline achievements.  Our curriculum further teaches the importance of students finding a balance of healthy digital device use and real world interaction. 

While we’ve been focused on the US school market, the fact that we are already having inquiries from countries that include Australia, Canada and India is encouraging. Educators and administrators around the world see tools like GoEnnounce as an invaluable way to teach 21st Century skills. The worldwide demand we’ve seen shows that Digital citizenship is becoming an increasingly important attribute for globally competent students. 

9. As GoEnnounce is gaining lot of traction, what would your tip be to other edtech startups and entrepreneurs in relation to their marketing approach?

Finding passionate educators who believe in your product will be your best marketing tool!  They will talk about your product better than you can because they are witnessing first hand the benefits of its use with their students.  Their recommendations will be more influential and get you farther than any type of advertisement!  Most importantly, listen to them for guidance and feedback as you make improvements and enhancements to your product. 

For more information or to get started with GoEnnounce at your school request a short demo here.

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