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Microsoft today announced that it has acquired DataSense, an integration platform as a service (IPaaS) product targeting education solution providers and U.S. school districts, from San Francisco company BrightBytes. The development team will join Microsoft’s global education division as part of the deal, the companies said.

“In the coming months, we’re excited to begin the process of integrating DataSense technology into our products for schools, providing a single, more secure, Microsoft-based service that will unlock the power of data analytics for schools,” said Steve Liffick, general manager of education strategy and platforms at Microsoft, who added that current BrightBytes customers won’t experience any disruption in service. “We believe this school-controlled, secure starting point in Azure will make it easier to use analytics to help improve student outcomes, while also servicing the typical data transfer and management needs of a school or district IT team.”

BrightBytes’ platform aims to ease the secure collection and control of student data with sophisticated cloud-based tools that integrate a range of sources and research-based frameworks. DataSense currently manages data for “millions” of students across “hundreds” of school districts, the company says. And it claims that its decision-support product, Clarity — which taps machine learning, predictive analytics, and psychometrics to visualize student data across research-based frameworks — is used by over 25,000 schools globally.

“We are excited about the global acceleration this sale provides to our mission,” BrightBytes CEO Traci Burgess said in a statement. “Schools around the world will benefit greatly from capabilities across data integration, interoperability, and provisioning.”


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Microsoft’s DataSense buy expands on its recent work in the Fresno Unified School District, where its Personalized Learning Initiative drove performance improvements from students in six out of ten subjects. More broadly, it’s a play at the increasingly lucrative education and learning analytics market, which is projected to be worth $7.1 billion by 2023.

Toward that end, In 2016, the Redmond company took the wraps off Teams for Education, a cloud-based assignments and projects dashboard for educators, nestled within its Office 365 for Education suite. More recently, it added education-focused features to OneNote; new educational content from the BBC, Lego, NAS, PBS, and Pearson to Windows Mixed Reality headsets; chemistry-focused lesson plans to Minecraft: Education Edition; and updated Microsoft Teams with classroom-oriented features like School Data Sync, which automatically populates classes with student rosters connected to the school’s information system.

In June 2018, Microsoft acquired education-focused video platform Flipgrid, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based video sharing platform aimed at students and educators, for an undisclosed amount. And in January, Microsoft partnered with JP and Lenovo to launch Windows 10 S devices for the education market — priced from $189 — alongside new Office 365 learning tools for students.

Updated 2/4 at 9:08 Pacific: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Microsoft had acquired BrightBytes, rather than BrightBytes’ DataSense platform. We regret the error.

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