Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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August 24, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Loop is making school district communication better for everyone

Loop is an AI-enabled reporting and communication solution built for school districts to streamline communication between parents, students, and staff.

Luke Wiseman is no stranger when it comes to school. He, like most people, went to school, but also grew up with a mom who is a teacher. And when you’re the son of a teacher, you notice things other students might not.

“Technology just innovates in the K-12 sector at a slower rate than other ones,” said Wiseman.

He was fascinated by this issue, and by technology in general. Wiseman graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with an econometrics degree with a specialization in computer science. His degree is from USC, but Wiseman spent his senior year physically in Knoxville, moving back home to cheaper-to-live-in Tennessee when the pandemic hit.

“During the spring semester of our senior year, two friends and I decided to start a company,” he said. “We weren’t sure necessarily which field to get into, and we kind of stumbled upon K-12. Really, for a bunch of different reasons. The main one is just from a student’s perspective. Then also, all of us have teachers as parents.”

The company they created was called Courseflow, recently rebranding to the name Loop. They thought they could help speed up the innovation of technology used in K-12 administration, and that started with a year of research figuring out what exactly schools wanted and needed in that realm.

“We ran what we called pilot programs with development partners, which is a really fancy way of saying we worked with school districts for free for a year,” said Wiseman. “We would just talk to as many teachers as we possibly could about simple stuff, like ‘What do you like most about your existing technology? What do you like least? If you had a magic wand and it could do whatever you imagined, what would that look like?’”

Wiseman and his co-founders learned that communication was a big issue everyone wanted fixed. Loop is an AI-enabled reporting and communication solution built for school districts.

“We offer tools to try and do three things. One, we try to improve the school or district’s communication. Two, we try to automate routine tasks. And three, we try and generate actionable insights to save the districts time, money, and resources. That means we can enable things like real-time automatic email and text notifications and automated surveys,” said Wiseman.

That includes a mass communication system, a two-way message center, and automated alerts for things like snow days, sickness closures, student discipline, and more, translated into 100 languages.

So how does Loop work? It’s simply software that can be added to existing school technology systems, so the system and staff don’t have to be overhauled to relearn something completely new.

“School districts are very, very protective with their capital,” said Wiseman. “It’s very hard to overhaul their systems, so we had to figure out something that added value without being too much, to have to retrain their staff and unplug everything.”

Why is automating this kind of communication important? Because teachers and administrators were wasting a lot of time doing it all by hand.

Wiseman gives the example of one school district’s policy for dealing with disciplinary infractions. Before Loop, a paper notice of the infraction would be sent home with a student, and it may or may make it to their parents. Meaning it may or may not make it back to the teacher, who then has to manually input everything with not much accountability from anyone involved.

“With Loop, a teacher enters in the student’s misconduct and the parent gets a text, the student gets an email, and the Vice Principal of Student Affairs has a list of all the infractions they can then build over time to correlate to if certain teachers or grade levels are giving out more infractions than others,” said Wiseman.

He said after using Loop for a year, this district saw their student infractions decrease by 22 percent.

“It went from their biggest school-wide pet peeve to something that no one ever has to think about it ever again,” said Wiseman.

Loop is targeting school districts in Tennessee and its surrounding states but would eventually like to spread throughout the country. Right now Loop’s biggest local customer is Anderson County Schools, which has about 6,300 students.

“Yes, we’re helping teachers. Yes, we’re helping administrators. Yes, we’re helping school districts,” said Wiseman. “But at the end of the day, if we save a teacher 100 hours of time per semester, some percentage of that time, if not the vast majority of it, is going to be spent on the students themselves.”

If you’re interested in trying out Loop’s technology, visit their website.

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