Box Building Out Education Business With New Apps, Partners

Box introduces both new apps and a partner network called OneCloud for collaboration in education, with industry partners across the Web, mobile and channel.

Box, which started out eight years ago as simply an online place to stash files, keeps developing new ways to do business.

The Los Altos, Calif.-based company started making and selling collaboration tools a few years ago, and it was highly successful at it. Now it is diversifying again—this time refining its offerings for vertical markets. Education is one of its top targets.

On Aug. 8 Box introduced both new apps and a partner network called OneCloud for collaboration in education, with industry partners across the Web, mobile and channel. The company also announced that more than 100 universities and hundreds of K-12 institutions are now using Box to facilitate sharing and to create more modern classrooms.

"We're seeing a lot of interest in the education space as to modernizing and looking at new ways to help teachers in the classroom," Box General Manager of Enterprise Whitney Bouck told eWEEK. "We're putting a lot of energy into the new partnerships to round out the ecosystem of technology, in both primary and secondary education."

In the past year, Box's sales in the education sector more than doubled, Bouck said. Universities worldwide including Georgetown, University of Maryland, University of Mississippi, Stanford, Temple University and Tufts have moved millions of students, faculty and administrators to the cloud-based service.

With Box's acquisition of Crocodoc in May, Box is now providing HTML5 document-collaboration tools to its education partners. Crocodoc technology enables learning management systems and education apps to redefine teacher and student workflows with improved document viewing and annotation, Bouck said.

Education applications now in the Box OneCloud include:

--Blackboard Learn: LMS that incorporates learning tools, including course management, social learning, student engagement and mobile features;

--Deltak: online learning tools and administration, a subsidiary of John Wiley & Sons;

--Edmodo: K-12 social learning platform that allows teachers and students to collaborate, share content and use educational apps;

--Haiku Learning: a suite of cloud-based tools designed to get students and educators up and running with digital learning in minutes;

--MediaCore: a cloud-based video education platform that is used by institutions to transform teaching and learning through online video; and

--ShowMyHomework: the U.K.'s No. 1 product for tracking and monitoring homework.

Box is also announcing a new relationship with Canvas by Instructure, a native cloud learning management system. The new partnership uses Box Embed, an HTML5 framework that embeds Box's entire suite of collaboration and management features directly within Canvas.

Now students and teachers can upload, access and collaborate on all their content within Canvas, and the content remains centrally managed and secured in Box. Canvas also uses Crocodoc's preview and annotation IT to allow teachers to review and grade assignments within the application.

Building More Mobile Classrooms: Box OneCloud Partners

Box's new education-focused OneCloud app partners offer new ways for education communities to easily create learning materials, manage classrooms and facilitate communication between students, instructors and parents, while keeping all the content in a secure, central location within Box.

New app partners include:

--Engrade: grading app that improves teachers' workflow and parent/student engagement;

--Nearpod: enables teachers to easily create and share interactive lessons;

--Celly: group texting service for schools and universities;

--Fluid Notes: simple note taking and handwriting app;

--UX Write: a word processor for the iPad for large documents like theses; and

--9Slides: lets educators build presentations with video for the classroom.

The BoxEmbed integration with Canvas will be available in the first quarter of 2014, Bouck said. Box OneCloud apps Fluid Notes, Nearpod, Celly, UX Write and 9Slides are accessible via the Box Apps Marketplace; Engrade will be available in September, Bouck said.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...