Opinion
Education Opinion

Dan Carroll, Founder and COO, Clever, Inc.

By Sara Mead — May 14, 2014 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Schools are making increased use of technology to support student learning and assess students’ progress, often combining a variety of different offerings to meet their students’ and schools’ unique needs. Many of these technology applications have real potential to make teachers’ jobs easier or more efficient by generating data on student progress or streamlining assessment creation or data analysis tasks. But if these different offerings aren’t effectively integrated, teachers may not experience these benefits in practice. Dan Carroll founded Clever to address these challenges and make it easier for schools and teachers to use technology-based solutions and track and use the data from them. Raised in Ohio, Carroll 27, graduated from Harvard University, taught in Denver, Colo., as a Teach for America corps member, and served as a school technology director before launching Clever. While in Colorado, he became and avid skier and craft beer snob and, after losing a bet with a student, wore his hair briefly in a faux hawk. He currently lives in San Francisco

What does Clever do? What’s your elevator pitch?

Clever enables K-12 schools to take full advantage of the new world of digital learning by reinventing the set up, management and log in process for education software. Currently used by more than 1-in-7 schools in America, Clever automates manual and time consuming tasks such as student account creation, making it easy for schools to implement and maintain a wide variety of learning applications. Clever is supported by more than 100 leading education developers including Amplify, NWEA, and Imagine Learning.

How will this make a difference in public education?

As a teacher and then a tech director, I saw the potential technology has to empower teachers and help students learn at their own pace. But when I tried to bring learning applications to my classroom and schools, I found that the painful setup and management process created more work for teachers, not less. Clever takes care of all of that hassle for over 20,000 schools today, making teachers technology superheroes who never need to worry about creating accounts or resetting passwords.

What have been some of your biggest successes today?

Clever recently released Instant Login, an innovative new technology that lets teachers and students access all of their learning software with just one click - abolishing the need for separate usernames and passwords. Incredibly, over 1,000 schools rolled out Instant Login before we released it publicly, and our list of partner applications includes many of the most innovative companies in education.

What are the biggest challenges?

Clever’s biggest challenge is managing growth. During the busy back to school time, schools across the country all roll out new applications at the same time - and the Clever team has to scramble to keep up with them! At other times of the year, schools are less likely to try something new, so we have to come up with creative ideas to grow Clever’s usage.

How do you expect personalized learning to evolve in the next 5-10 years? How will things look different in a decade? What are the opportunities? What are the potential pitfalls?

Personalized learning will reduce the time students need to spend learning the basics - i.e. math skills and vocabulary - by letting students move on to the next thing as soon as they’ve mastered a standard. I’m excited by the ideas I hear from schools about what they will do beyond the basics - creative projects, experiential learning, “maker” labs, arts, and computer science (to name a few). While I believe that technology empowers teachers, I worry that mandates and top-down decision making could leave teachers feeling unsupported or threatened by personalized learning.

Why/how did you come to work in education?

I come from a long line of educators--my mom is an elementary school, my grandmother is a school librarian, and my grandfather is an art education professor. But what led me most directly to the classroom is the tutoring work I did in college as part of the Mission Hill Afterschool Program in Boston. The incredible students I met there inspired me to become a teacher.

Who are some of your heroes/mentors/people you respect whose examples shape your work?

My greatest inspiration has always come from the teachers I’ve had. In particular, two of my high school English teachers--Ms. Lamuth and Ms. Horger--pushed me to work hard and excel in a subject that was always my biggest challenge. I tried to live up to their example when I was in the classroom, and now go to work every day trying to make life easier for teachers like them.

What do you hope to be doing 5-10 years from now? What do you hope to have accomplished?

If I’m lucky, in ten years I’ll still be working on Clever, helping make learning easier for students everywhere. I can’t think of a more deserving problem to work on in the world.

The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP