UPDATED 12:21 EST / JUNE 18 2018

APPS

Microsoft buys video learning startup Flipgrid for an edge in the classroom

Microsoft Corp. is hoping to gain a new software edge over rivals such as Google LLC in the highly competitive education market.

The technology giant today announced the acquisition of Flipgrid Inc., the startup behind a video learning platform with more than 20 million users worldwide. Flipgrid’s service allows teachers to create a digital space dedicated to a specific topic where students can post clips in which they share their opinions.

Flipgrid has proven popular in just about every segment of the education sector. The startup claims that the platform sees use from the pre-K level to higher education across some 180 different countries. Flipgrid is mainly designed to help teachers foster their students’ communications and social skills but also has other uses such as allowing faculty members to share feedback with one another.

The broad appeal of Flipgrid aligns well with Microsoft’s mission of growing its presence in education. As part of this effort, the technology giant has brought to market specialized productivity tools for students and low-cost laptops geared toward use in classrooms. These budget machines are Microsoft’s answer to Google’s hugely popular Chromebooks.

In the wake of the Flipgrid acquisition, the company plans to make the platform free for educators and refund users who have already bought subscriptions. Joey Taralson, Flipgrid’s vice president of engagement, wrote in a blog post that the service will continue to support Chromebooks and the other devices on which it’s currently available.

In the longer term, Microsoft could potentially even take the step of moving Flipgrid beyond the classroom to the enterprise. The platform’s features may lend themselves well to tasks such as managing employee feedback and team communications.

Flipgrid certainly wouldn’t be the only socially oriented education platform to go down this path: Kahoot AS last year launched a business version of its popular quizzing app to address corporate demand.

Image: Microsoft

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