Update on Edmodo: Killing free platform usage, not all paid usage

Thanks to alert reader Kate Worlock, we have clarification from Edmodo based on last week’s post on the company shutting down the platform. It was a little rude of them, but Edmodo parent NetDragon put out a press release the day after the post, depriving me of clarity when writing. tl;dr – free platform is dead with just five weeks’ notice, but paid platform is still available outside US for country-wide deals. In my speculations in that post, the second guess ended up being closer to the truth.

The only other explanation that makes sense to me is if Edmodo the platform will be used only as a white labeled back end solution for Egypt. Either way, it looks like the end of the road for Edmodo as a platform was in Egypt.

It is paid country-wide deployments that will remain for Edmodo, but this will extend beyond Egypt. NetDragon’s press release stated:

NetDragon Websoft Holdings Limited (“NetDragon” or the “Company”; Hong Kong Stock Code: 777), a global leader in building internet communities, announced that Edmodo, its subsidiary, has decided to shut down its free B2C version (Edmodo.com) with effect from 22 September 2022 to focus its resources in pursuing revenue-producing country rollout B2G opportunities with the popular learning platform[1].

While Edmodo.com has been one of the most widely-used free learning communities and has been loved and used by millions of teachers, students and parents around the world, Edmodo has in recent years made significant progress in discussions to roll out a similar B2G based platform in multiple countries[1], including Egypt, Thailand and Ghana, as part of the Company’s strategy to provide best-in-class blended learning solutions. The shutdown of the free B2C platform (Edmodo.com) will allow the Company to focus its effort in better optimizing the B2G platform to fit the needs of the different countries, ultimately creating value for users that will be consistent with the blended learning vision of the Company. In addition, the Company expects to realize substantial savings in operating cost, which will accelerate the path to reaching operating profitability of its education business.

[1] The B2G platform will be offered in markets outside of the United States

It turns out that NetDragon’s statement at the time of acquiring Edmodo in 2018 has not proven the test of time.

The acquisition of Edmodo is a testament to NetDragon’s on-going commitment to building the largest active online learning community on a global scale.

The vast majority of Edmodo’s usage – their online learning community – comes from the free B2C platform. Based on the press release, it appears that even the Edmodo Pro and district-wide deals are going away, with all business focused on government sales (B2G).

To be honest, this move by NetDragon aligns with general EdTech market changes, where expectations of growth and scale are taking a back seat to the need to become profitable at today’s scale. Growth, free, largest in the world, education for everyone are becoming somewhat passé. 1

My biggest criticism of NetDragon is not about the pivot away from free; rather, it is about the ridiculously short notice given to teachers and students of just over five weeks. Why did they not give teachers and students until at least the end of the year to make the migration, especially with the news hitting right before fall terms? The additional hosting costs would have been negligible, and there would be no need for additional product development costs. That is the shame of this decision.

1 To give credit, the University of the People is keeping the banner high on free tuition, massive scale education.