Educational Technology in Metro DC

BlackBerry PDAWe cover a lot of stories about technology companies that provide services for business and government. But there’s also a thriving market in greater Washington DC for tech firms that create educational software and services. Take these three examples. 

Defywire  

It’s official. The PDA has taken over the classroom. Well, maybe not quite. But school administrators in Fairfax County will be carrying BlackBerrys this fall. The coordinated attempt is part of a deal with Defywire, a local company based in Herndon.

Defywire creates wireless software to manage student safety and school security. It’s understandable that a district as large as Fairfax—with more than 230 schools—would invest in this kind of assistance.

Blackboard 

Of course the largest local technology firm focusing on education is a company out of the District called Blackboard. It was founded in 1997 and has a healthy outlook for the future, after riding the dot-com roller coaster; the company is currently advertising 50 open positions.

Blackboard offers five software applications that do a whole bevy of tasks, from improving the learning process, to academic assessment, to file sharing, and everything in-between. It serves a range of customers: elementary schools, colleges, textbook publishers, and more.

K12 

We move the spotlight back to Herndon with a firm called K12. As someone with previous classroom experience, this company really makes my mouth water. It’s enough to make me want to go back and track recess points on the chalkboard.

K12 produces flexible, online curriculum for virtual schools, with more than 11,000 multimedia lessons. Core subjects are math, science, language arts/English, history, art, and music, and additional high school coursework is available as well.

Last month K12 filed plans to go public with a $172.5 million IPO. Their registration is still in the review process. According to company records, the firm’s sales increased 62% from 2004 to 2006.

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