Microsoft has acquired what it calls an “exclusive licensing” to the technology used in Chalkup, a collaboration platform where teachers can organize, annotate, share and grade digital coursework with students.
The deal has all the trappings of a company acquisition, even if that’s not how Microsoft chooses to describe it. A company spokesperson confirmed that there was money exchanged between the two parties, although she declined to disclose how much. Chalkup’s co-founder and CEO, Justin Chando, will have a new job at Microsoft. And furthermore, Chalkup will cease operations this summer.
Founded in 2013, Chalkup claims users in 1 in 5 high schools, and 1 in 3 universities, in the United States. The product aims to help improve the assignment workflow in the classroom, by allowing students to ask questions, leave comments and submit digital assignments. Teachers can also grade and leave feedback on coursework, and send messages to the class.
In an interview with EdSurge, Chando said his company had been engaged in conversations with several education companies and received multiple acquisition offers. Early this year, he decided to go with Microsoft.
He says Microsoft Teams for education is aligned with Chalkup’s original vision as a “class collaboration solution that was built on the idea that classes need to discuss and work together to get their questions answered and share more collaboratively.”
At Microsoft, Chando will be a product manager on its education team, focusing on helping Chalkup’s existing users migrate to Microsoft Teams, a group chat software. Some of Chalkup’s features, including its rubrics system for grading, will be added to Microsoft Teams, according to a blog post from Microsoft.
Rolling these functionalities into Microsoft Teams will mean that Chalkup will cease to operate as its own product on June 30, 2018. Current users are being nudged to transition to using Microsoft Teams, which is part of the company’s Office 365 for Education product suite.
Chalkup also currently has an integration with Google Drive that allows users to manage their files on Google’s platform. One signal from its impending shutdown is that Microsoft is trying to woo users who currently use the search giant’s tools. The two companies compete—rather openly and directly—in the education market on both the hardware and software fronts.
But rest assured, says the Redmond, Wa.-based company: Microsoft Teams already integrates with Google Drive to allow users to share Google files on the platform.
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