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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Esmeralda Swartz, Hovhannes Avoyan, Elizabeth White, Adrian Bridgwater

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New Social Enterprise Disrupts EdTech Industry

Hedge fund manager and philanthropist Andy Bluhm has an eye for opportunity. So when one of Bluhm’s companies compared retention rates for digital textbooks versus conventional ones, he saw the future of education technology and a chance to level the playing field. Bluhm connected with two tech-savvy social studies teachers and asked them to help him dream up an app that would make education technology easy-to-use and available to everyone.

What they came up with was Otus, a Learning Management System (LMS) designed by teachers for teachers that brings the best EdTech features from around the web together in one secure place with one login. Otus will always be free for students and teachers, and has no advertisements or in-app purchases. The app was first released for iPad in March of 2014, and today Otus is launching a website version for Chromebook and any other web-enabled device – just in time for the new school year.

Otus’s tools allow teachers to improve classroom management, differentiate instruction, assess learning, and curate individual content for students. “By combining all these aspects into one app, I believe they make it possible to run a 1:1 mobile classroom very efficiently,” said Michael Karlin in The EdTech Round Up.

“[Otus] allows teachers and students to focus more on learning rather than on signing in or dealing with the technology being used to share the knowledge,” said Emily Bigelow, an educator and reviewer for Smart Apps for Kids.

“Otus is a seamless solution that makes 1:1 digital learning easy,” co-creator Pete Helfers said. “It incorporates functions like Class Dojo, Socrative, Edmodo, Schology, Google Classroom and more all in one place. But it’s also about collegial conversation on how technology in education improves learning for everyone.”

Otus is building a community of educators that share resources, curricula, assessments and best practices to help better educate students and significantly reduce the cost of educational content and data. Over time, Otus intends to support its mission by charging a fee to districts that want to integrate Otus with their current legacy systems. The fee will be directly related to proven savings.

Both student and teacher versions of Otus LMS are free in the App Store. And anyone can set up a free account at My.Otusplus.com.

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