Cloud storage service Box is stepping up its game in the education space. Today, the company has unveiled new tools and integrations that are designed to further enable collaboration and sharing between students and teachers. Among these include the results of Crocodoc’s integration following its acquisition, partnerships with the Canvas learning management system and international channel companies, and new OneCloud apps for the academic world.

One of the emerging trends that Box says it’s seeing in education is the fact that students are moving away from books and instead doing all their learning off of tablet devices. In doing so, users will need to have a way to share files with each other and that’s where Box hopes it will come in.

Whitney Bouck, general manager of enterprise at Box, said in a statement:

Future success for students and educators will be dependent on how well we integrate technology into our modern learning environments.

In a survey of 800 users, Box discovered that most schools aren’t using technology to its fullest potential. Based on its findings, 50 percent of students indicated that they’re doing school work on their smartphones and tablets daily, but only 38 percent can obtain their class materials online. Furthermore, 86 percent of faculties believe that online and mobile tools make it easier for students to learn, but less than 34 percent are taking advantage of these opportunities.

With the new tools Box is announcing today, the belief is that both students and educators will have more accessibility to the cloud storage service and use it to enhance learning in the classroom.

Crocodoc and Box Embed in the education space

In May, Box acquired Crocodoc with the intent that the service’s HTML5 document viewing technology would be interwoven into Box’s core service. Today is the results of that merger whereby the service has connected with several learning management systems like Blackboard, Deltak, Edmodo, Haiku Learning, MediaCore, and ShowMyHomework.

Because of these partnerships, documents can be opened right within a browser, no longer requiring the student or teacher needing to have a certain app or software pre-installed.

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The company has also established a partnership with learning management system Canvas by Infrastructure where Box Embed, its HTML5 framework that integrates with enterprise, or in this case education, applications to unify all content shared between different devices and users. Canvas is also tapping into Crocodoc, bringing in its preview and annotation technology for teachers to review and grade assignments right from within its app.

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Building a mobile classroom with more OneCloud partners

Box is also bringing in more application partners to help support its education initiative. Through its OneCloud program, six partners have signed up, enabling students, teachers, and parents to not only have files stored in a central place, but quickly know how to access and review them. Here are the new partners:

  • Engrade: a grading app that allows teachers to share with parents and students
  • Nearpod: enables teachers to easily create and share interactive lessons
  • Celly: a group texting service for schools and universities
  • Fluid Notes: a simple note-taking and handwriting app
  • UX Write: a word processor for the iPad for large documents
  • 9Slides: lets educators build presentations with videos for the classroom

More channel partners

Higher learning institutions and education networks have also been tapped to help the company reach out to new users. Box has established connections with SURF, NORDUnet, and Internet2 to help it infiltrate universities in the Netherlands, the Nordic, and in the US:

The partnership with Internet2 provides U.S. universities with an easy way to deploy Box campus-wide. Since the launch of the Internet2 NET+ Box program in April 2012, more than 1.5 million Box accounts have been purchased across 49 universities.

Making an investment in the education space

Box is certainly no stranger to the education space and it is looking to improve on its performance thus far. According to statistics provided to us by the company, it has seen 119 percent growth year-over-year in sales to the industry. Box is also supporting hundreds of schools including universities and K-12 using paid accounts (which it offers a discount for).

The service is being used by customers like Temple University, Georgetown University, University of Maryland, California Charter Schools Association, West Lafayette Community Schools, Indiana University, and more.

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Perhaps furthering its involvement with the education industry is a way for it to show potential investors that it can diversify its offering. It’s believed that the company will go public in 2014.

Photo credit: FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images

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