Interview | Mark Bavisotto Builds An Edustruct For Schools

Mark Bavisotto of edustructHelping students prepare for their next level in life or education, Mark Bavisotto saw how students were struggling with the heavy online presence in higher education and thought why not apply that type of technology in the K-12 world. “I believe that you must adapt to this ever-changing world, or else you’re going to be left behind. Students are being left behind every day and that’s what’s contributing to our failing education system,” says Mark, a former educator passionate about changing education one classroom at a time. And so he built Edustruct for parents, teachers, students and administrators.

Victor: What does the name mean?

edustruct logoMark: The simple answer is it’s short for education and structure. Education has to create a new structure focused heavily on technology.

Victor: What is it?

Mark: EduStruct is an educational software program that integrates a secured social media platform directly into the classroom while syncing it with other educational tools. This creates an educational community where administrators, teachers, students and parents can share information in real time. It gives teachers the power to extend their reach outside of the classroom, which will break down traditional barriers, and prepare students for the next level in life or education. This user-friendly software gives administrators the tools they need to run an efficient and effective school district without putting constraints on their budget. EduStruct is creating a virtual educational network which will enable schools all over the world to share digital resources and information, in the process enhancing the quality of education through greater access and communication.

Victor: Who created it?

edustruct-adminMark: The software was designed on a whiteboard by me almost a year and a half ago. It’s crazy how far this idea has come and it’s a testament to creating something of value and listening to what your users say.

Victor: What does it do?

Mark: EduStruct offers a social networking service and virtual learning environment for K-12 schools and higher education institutions that allow users to create, manage, and share academic content all over the world. These are also known as a learning management system (LMS) or course management system (CMS); the cloud-based platform provides tools needed to manage an online classroom. 

EduStruct also offers group video chat (Google Hangout Integration) that will allow for real time collaboration among users and extends learning outside of your traditional classroom walls. Online classes are a way to enhance student’s achievement while at the same time preventing students from leaving to attend the growing number of online schools all over the world. Professional Development courses are a way to make sure your teachers and Administrators are staying up to date on what’s required for their license. EduStruct will also offer its SIS features to schools starting in 2013.

Victor: What are the benefits?

edustruct-parentMark: The Software includes: 
1. Public and Private Learning Communities 
2. Group walls 
3. Drop Box 
4. Event Planning 
5. Messaging service 
6. connecting with outside resources to share with your classes 
7. Super admin panel- (Admin has total control and view over the whole system) 
8. Share ideas and documents with other schools- School to School Collaboration 
9. Assignment Creation 
10. Assessment Creation 
11. Google Docs Integration 
12. Google Hangout Integration 
13. Safe-T-Net (Bully Prevention) 14. Blogging. 15. Online Class creation 16. Video and Content Embedding
14. Much, much more. (After beta release)- Whiteboard functionality, Professional development communities, webinar creation, Grade Book, Syllabus Creation, Scheduling, State Reporting, Health Records, Analytics etc.

Victor: How is it unique from other similar products/services?

edustruct-studentMark: It’s unique from other similar products because it was designed by educators for educators. Users in this market will always tell you that edtech software programs are too complicated. It is our goal to create one platform that helps satisfy every school’s needs.

Victor: What companies do you see as in the same market?

Mark: Companies that I see in the Same Market are Pearson, edmodo, My Big Campus, Infinite Campus, Moodle, Sungard, and Schoology. That being said, I don’t see these companies as competitors. I see us all as one big community with the common goal of improving education for future generations.

Victor: When was it developed?

Mark: The beta version was just released this past month

Victor: What is something interesting or relevant about its development history?

edustruct-teacherMark: That’s a funny question to ask. What hasn’t been interesting about developing this software. The only thing I can say is that we’ve worked really hard so far to create a product that will change the way education is delivered today.

Victor: Where did it originate? Where can you get it now?

Mark: The product originated about 1 year ago this month and you can find it at social.edustruct.com and after the beta on edustruct.com

Victor: How much does it cost? What are the options?

Mark: The Cost is free right now and I can’t share our business model because it’s going to change education forever. Something must remain a secret until the right time comes.

Victor: Who is it particularly tailored for?

Mark: It’s tailored For Administration, Teacher, Students, and Parents.

Victor: What are your thoughts on education these days?

Mark: Do you have three hours? In all seriousness, I think education is on a downward spiral. Schools have to start getting out of that old school conservative thinking and embrace technology 100 percent. I know there’s a lot of obstacles in the way, but as Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change.” Think about that quote for a second. Education is at a crossroads right now, and if we don’t face the challenge head on, then I feel real bad for our future generations.

Victor: What sort of formative experiences in your own education helped to inform your approach to creating EduStruct?

Mark: This idea has been in my brain for a long time. When I was student teaching 5 years ago, I always thought there has to be a better way to teach our children. Educators were always taught to teach to the average and I just couldn’t wrap my head around that. It really made no sense to me. Every person is unique in the way they learn and that type of thinking is going to leave many children out in the cold. I understand why they taught us like that because there’s just not enough time, but I wasn’t buying into it.

My wheels really started to turn when I was completing my MBA online. I thought to myself, what if we apply this type of technology to the classroom? That’s when EduStruct was born.

Victor: How does Edustruct address some of your concerns about education?

Mark: EduStruct won’t leave any students behind. It gives teachers more time to cater to the individual learning styles of each child. Gone are the days when you pile in a ton of information into a 40-minute class period, only to have the children forget it 5 minutes later. We have to give students more free reign to do their own research and learning and then when they come into class we go over what they learned (flipped classroom). Every teacher should give their students a topic to research and when they come into class the next day, you will instantly see their engagement level rise 100 percent. EduStruct provides a great platform for teachers to manage their time and engage students into what they’re teaching.

Victor: What’s your outlook on the future of education?

Mark: That is a great question. At this very moment, my outlook is cautious but optimistic. I’m cautious because I’m not sure if schools our going to adopt technology at a rate to make it effective. I’m optimistic because I see all these great companies bringing really interesting technology into the market which will help speed that transition.

Victor: Got a quirky or funny anecdote?

Mark: When I was a kid, I walked to school with no shoes, uphill both ways in five feet of snow — and I was thankful. Of course, that’s not true — but your readers have probably heard that one before, and it always makes me think of my mom every time I hear it.

Victor: What else can you tell educators and other leaders in and around education about the value of EduStruct?  

Mark: The value of EduStruct is in its ability to make education available 24/7/365 with robust, user-friendly technology. Education should never have time or walls attached to it, and if we start to think like that, then the possibilities are endless.

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