Why Did Microsoft Buy Flipgrid? Vying for the EdTech Market
by Nicole Speciale
On June 18th, 2018, Microsoft announced its acquisition of Flipgrid, which will be integrated into Office 365 for Education. Flipgrid, an educational video and discussion application for use with iOS and Android devices, is a Minneapolis-based startup that has partnered with Microsoft since 2016.
Collaboration in learning has evolved over the past several years to involve more interactive methods of exchanging information and providing peer-peer or teacher-peer instruction. Students today are no strangers to social media apps and platforms, so it is not surprising that social media-esque apps have made their way into the classroom and into schools.
Flipgrid enables users to share short videos with classmates and create lesson plans through collaboration. Users can record personal videos and upload them to the Flipgrid platform to either ask questions or respond to them in ways that are conducive to learning.
The video element creates a more interactive and personalized approach to communication and collaboration for students, in contrast to other forms of online text-based group work, like Google Docs.
Microsoft vs. Apple in the EdTech Market
Apple tablets and laptops have become widespread in schools, and not too long ago, Apple announced the launch of low-cost iPads for schools. This has left Apple with a huge share of the EdTech market, and Microsoft’s Flipgrid acquisition is just one way that Microsoft is trying to expand its footprint in this area.
Flipgrid reportedly has over 20 million users in 180 countries, so it has become quite popular with educators ranging from Pre-K to PhD levels. As more schools and instructors switch to collaborative methods of learning that are technology-based, it is likely that we will see more acquisitions of learning application providers by companies wanting to make a larger impact in the EdTech market.
Students have grown accustomed to using social media and interactive platforms for personal use, but now they are becoming a prominent part of education. For one, students are familiar with how these platforms work and are used to collaboration or communication via technology.
In addition, applications for mobile devices mean that students have access to peer collaboration outside of the classroom and can use this platform to create learning communities or reach outcomes through interpersonal methods instead of relying solely on internet search to find answers.
Education is not the only market in which personal technology preferences have gone mainstream and even become a requirement. So, it is not surprising that in many industries, standard practices have taken after what individuals are choosing for themselves.