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Schools Clamored for Seesaw’s App. That Was Good News, and Bad News.

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San Antonio kindergarten teacher Jennifer Montemayor using a cue for the Seesaw app.

The number of student posts on the Seesaw classroom app increased tenfold from February to May, and the company's paid customer base has tripled from last year.

Credit: Ilana Panich-Linsman/The New York Times

The first requests that upended Seesaw, a popular classroom app, came in January from teachers and education officials abroad. Their schools were shutting down because of the coronavirus, and they urgently wanted the app adjusted for remote learning. The company figured it could do that with a single short hackathon project.

"We were so naïve," said Emily Voigtlander Seliger, a Seesaw product manager.

Weeks later, reality hit: The virus spread to the United States, where more of the app's users are. Seesaw had been designed for students in a classroom to submit an audio comment or a digital drawing after a lesson. But thousands of teachers suddenly wanted it to work as a full-featured home learning tool. Rather than using Seesaw for a couple of assignments a week, they were using it for hours each day.

It seemed like every start-up's dream: racing to keep up with demand from people desperate for your app.

And in many ways, that has worked out well for Seesaw, a San Francisco company. The number of student posts on its app increased tenfold from February to May, Seesaw says, and the paid customer base has tripled from last year. The app is now used in more than three-quarters of American schools, including big districts like Dallas and Los Angeles.


From The New York Times
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