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The EdTech Market Insider

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    EdTech Funding Report India 1H 2015 EDUKWEST

    Over the past couple of years the Indian subcontinent managed to establish itself as a serious market for investors seeking opportunities to invest in education and EdTech.

    At EDUKWEST we see an increased number of startups in the education space getting founded by Indian entrepreneurs, often after having spent time in the US and working for big American companies, but also new funds specially created to support the budding ecosystem.

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    In terms of traffic on our website and subscribers to our newsletter, India has become our number two source of visitors making for a solid 10 percent of total traffic on EDUKWEST.

    These developments caused our team to take a deep look at the data we collect about the Indian EdTech startup ecosystem, and what came up was some pretty telling trends for 1H 2015.


    1H 2014 1H 2015
    Amount $80 million $56 million
    Number of Investors 35 60
    Number of Rounds 20 30

    Although the total amount invested in 1H 2015 seems to be significantly lower with $56 million than it was in 1H 2014 ($80 million) at first glance, it needs to be said that this includes one $60 million round. Overall we see a much larger number of investors (60) being drawn to EdTech in India than in the same time in 2014 (35).

    The total number of rounds we tracked increased from 20 rounds in 1 H 2014 to 30 rounds in the same timeframe this year.


    1H 2014 1H 2015
    Angel 6 $2m 6 $666k
    Seed 7 $1.7m 11 $4.6m
    Series A 1 $942k 6 $7.5m
    Series B 1 $9m 1 $10m
    Series C 0 2 $19m
    undefined 5 $66m 4 $14.2m
    If we take a look at how these rounds break down in comparison, we see that there is a constant number of Angel rounds (6), but those rounds are significantly smaller in size this year than they were last year.

    However, the picture changes when we look at Seed investments, Series A, B, and C rounds this year, both in terms of total rounds and total amount of money invested.

    Interestingly, the amount of unspecified investment was a staggering $66 million in 1H 2014, which asks for some caution when looking at the distribution of money in specific rounds. It would, however, appear that the investments made in the past year have become more structured.


    1H 2014 1H 2015
    K-12 6 11
    Higher Education 2 6
    Test Prep 2 4
    Language Learning 0 3
    In terms of popularity, we see the K-12 vertical lead the field with 11 rounds total, followed by Higher Education with 6 rounds, then test prep with 4, and language learning with 3 rounds in 2015 so far.


    1H 2014 1H 2015
    Bangalore 3 8
    Delhi, New Delhi 3 7
    Mumbai 3 6
    Chennai 2 3
    Hyderabad 4 3
    The top 3 EdTech hubs on the subcontinent are Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai, which is consistent with the 2014 data. It is noteworthy that the top three cities have at least doubled the number of investment rounds in 1H 2015.

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    Special Offer: Purchase our Bundle EdTech Funding Report India 1H 2014 & 1H 2015 and save 50% on the second report.

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    Picture License Attribution Some rights reserved by t3rmin4t0r  

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    Pearson FT Nikkei EDBRIEF 07 2015 EDUKWEST

    Pearson agreed to sell the Financial Times to Japanese media company Nikkei for $1.3 billion in cash. The publisher owned the traditional financial newspaper for nearly 60 years.

    Explaining the decision to sell FT Pearson CEO John Fallon said in the press release that

    “[...] we’ve reached an inflection point in media, driven by the explosive growth of mobile and social. In this new environment, the best way to ensure the FT’s journalistic and commercial success is for it to be part of a global, digital news company.

    Pearson will now be 100% focused on our global education strategy. The world of education is changing profoundly and we see huge opportunity to grow our business through increasing access to high quality education globally.”

    Further Reading

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    MEP 050 Kyle Stalzer Tackk Meet Education Project EDUKWEST

    In this episode of MEP, Kyle Stalzer, who is the CEO at, talks about this unique content creation tool that has met a lot of success with teachers and students in the K-12 space.

    Guest Bio:

    Kyle Stalzer was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He studied at the University of Dayton where he obtained a degree in Management Information Systems.

    Kyle’s background is rooted in data-driven product management with over 10 years experience setting online and mobile strategy for Fortune 500 companies and startups alike.

    Before Tackk, Kyle worked at American Greetings and Progressive Insurance.

    Show Notes:

    (01:40) Kyle’s background

    (03:36) Did you study Computer Engineering, software or anything like that in college?

    (04:37) Let’s talk about the company Tackk. What problem are you trying to solve with Tackk, and what sort of progress have you made?

    (05:32) Tackk’s tagline is “Simply create a beautiful page.”

    (09:48) I’m interested in knowing how the product works so that the audience can really have a feel for it.

    (14:50) What other barriers or issues are you seeing as you go through this journey?

    (18:43) What’s the business model? What are you trying to do to monetize?

    (22:25) What do you see as the future of Tackk? Or the future of what you want to develop that will make an impact on education?

    (24:55) If you could have dinner with one person you admire, past or present, who would it be and why?

    How to Use Tackk:

    Tackk from Tackk on Vimeo.


    Meet Education ProjectFor more episodes featuring thought leaders in education visit, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and follow Nick DiNardo on Twitter.

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    Noodle AllClasses EDBRIEF 07 2015 EDUKWEST

    New York-based education search engine Noodle acquired Boston-based AllClasses. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, VentureBeat reports that it is an all-equity deal.

    AllClasses was founded in 2013 and raised a $1.5 million Seed Round in May 2014.

    Founded in 2010 by John Katzman, who is also the founder of The Princeton Review and 2U (formerly 2tor), Noodle collects information about online and offline courses from the web and curates them on its web portal.

    With the acquisition of AllClasses, Noodle adds nearly 100.000 courses from 20.000 providers to its database, expanding its post-college search capabilities. Earlier this month Noodle added search capabilities for pre-schools to its offering.

    The acquisition of AllClasses is the second in Noodle’s history. In March 2013 Noodle acquired Lore (formerly CourseKit) to integrate its technology into the search engine.

    Further Reading


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    Leada EdTech Startup Profile EDUKWEST

    Name: Leada Website: Headquarters: Mountain View, USA Vertical: Coding, Higher Education Tech: Web App

    Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.

    Leada is the best way to teach data science skills online. We sell our content to professors in a 'Build Your Own' style. In contrast to all other ed-tech companies, we seek to complement rather than replace the university professor.

    Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.

    We are childhood friends from Davis, CA and recent graduates from UC Berkeley where we both studied a combination of Statistics, Business, & Computer Science and co-founded the Undergraduate Statistics Association. Tristan is the CTO and Brian is the CEO.

    How was the idea for your startup born?

    Having recently graduated UC Berkeley we intimately experienced the problems with higher education. We felt college was important, but lacked employable skill development and industry relevance.

    What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.

    Professors hate two things: teaching "skills" and providing industry relevance to their class. We enable them to do this with our online labs and real world projects.

    Who are your main competitors? What sets you apart from them?

    Coursera/Udacity - They are designed to replace professors, we are a product professors use and consequently we solve the attrition problem they are plagued with.

    DataCamp - Like Codecademy DataCamp is effective to introduce data science concepts to beginners, but learning in depth is impossible via simply DataCamp

    Pearson Textbooks - Their online content is purely homework/testing based, Leada has interactive teaching content and charges significantly less.

    In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.

    We hope to be in over 30 universities in the Fall 2015 semester.

    Who is your target audience.

    University professors

    How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.

    Word of mouth, conferences, and outbound sales.

    How many users / downloads does your service have?

    In spring of 2014 we were used inside UC Berkeley, Notre Dame, NYU & University of San Francisco.

    What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.

    Our business model is similar to textbooks. The professor will assign the content and the student pays. The cost is between $50 to $75 dollars.

    If you raised funding, how much did you raise. Who are your investors. If not, are you planning to raise funding.

    We're backed by ImagineK12 and Y Combinator (in the current batch).

    Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.

    The completion rates of our online content for our students is between 50% to 60%. Coursera is lucky to have 5%.

    What are the next steps in growing your startup.

    Evangelizing Leada as the best resource to teach data science & analytics in every program across the United States. Transitioning to other subjects such as design, software engineering, etc.

    How can people get in touch with you.


    Room for anything else you would like to add.

    Ed-Tech is hard, but you know what's harder? The lack of purpose most people go about their lives.

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    MoodleCloud EDTECH 07 2015 EDUKWEST

    To better serve small organizations and individuals that can’t (don’t want to) pay for a hosted solution by one of its partners, Moodle now offers a free hosted solution called MoodleCloud.

    MoodleCloud includes basic features that come with limitations to keep cost for the company in control, and there are also ads integrated to subsidize the running costs for Moodle.

    Teachers can sign up 50 students and upload 200mb of content. There are no plugins or customizations available. The database size is unlimited and the package comes with free videoconferencing powered by BigBlueButton. The LMS will also automatically update to the latest version and can be setup within minutes using a mobile phone for security measures.

    MoodleCloud is obviously targeting teachers and institutions who want to give the LMS a testdrive before committing to either running their own LMS or sign up for a hosting package with one of the Moodle Partners.

    With startups like Canvas Network offering free, hosted LMS solutions and general tech companies like WordPress entering the market, Moodle needs to get new users on board. Hence, MoodleCloud might be a good entry point.

    Further Reading

    Moodle Launches MoodleCloud – Free Hosting for Educators. | Press Release


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    Blackboard Sale

    Reuters reports that Blackboard might be on the market with a $3 billion price tag attached to it. According to sources, majority owner Providence Equity Partners LLC, who took Blackboard private in 2011, hired Deutsche Bank and Bank of America to run an auction for the company.

    Providence paid $1.64 billion four years ago and hopes for a valuation 14 to 17 times EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) which is currently around $200 million according to sources. The valuation would be based on comparable subscription-based SaaS companies.

    Founded in 1998, Blackboard currently serves 19,000 clients in 100 countries, including 80 percent of the top academic institutions according to the company. In recent years Blackboard has come under pressure from startups like Instructure Canvas which managed to take away market share from Blackboard.

    Launched in 2011 Instructure, which raised around $90 million in venture capital and aims for an IPO later this year, quickly grew to over 1.200 clients. Earlier this month Blackboard announced the launch of a redesigned LMS called New Learning Experience at its annual conference.


    Further Reading

    Exclusive: Education company Blackboard seeks $3 billion sale - sources | Reuters


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  • 07/30/15--14:09: Reading List: EdTech Asia
  • Reading List EdTech Asia EDUKWEST

    Today, Asia in all its variety is likely the most interesting market for education technology.

    Although it is mostly China, with its dominance and enormous potential for growth, we hear about when it comes to massive investment rounds, it is lesser covered Asian countries, like Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam or Indonesia, that go through rapid development and quick evolution, which now have the potential to leapfrog some of their more mature Asian neighbors.

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    Innovation in education in Asia largely equals with mobile technology. China alone has 557 million mobile internet users.

    Indonesia, on the other hand, is expected to become the fourth largest market for mobile devices, surpassing 100 million monthly active users in 2018. The country also has the ambitious goal to replace textbooks with tablet devices.

    Even nations like Bhutan, that are far from being on the map when it comes to EdTech, are actively looking into the possibilities of e-learning to benefit their education system.

    The rapid development in different Asian EdTech markets is fueled by a plethora of incubators and accelerators that startups can join as well as investment opportunities.

    But there are also problems. While South Korea is still benefitting from its perfect test scores in international comparison, cracks in the education system start to show.

    Japan, these days, makes more headlines about its depressed youth and the fear for jobs that make the e-learning industry bloom, rather than reforming its educational system and pushing innovation.

    For this Reading List: EdTech Asia our team selected over 20 articles from leading sources, covering K-12, Career & Skills, the EdTech Startup Ecosystem and Mobile.

    If you’re interested in learning more about the opportunities and challenges in the Asian e-learning industry outside of China faces, you will find great value in our new EdTech Reading List Asia.

    At EDUKWEST we go through a large number of articles each day for our own research, and we put together the 24 most relevant ones on EdTech in Asia for you in this reading list, covering the months of January to July 2015.

    With a price of €10, this means that an articles is less than 50 cents. Conveniently pay via PayPal or contact us for other payment options.

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    NewSchools Ignite EDBRIEF 07 2015 EDUKWEST

    NewSchools Venture Fund launched a new accelerator program called NewSchools Ignite. The program will focus on underserved niches in the K-12 sector. Along with the launch, the non-profit announced the first grant program that aims to support edtech entrepreneurs in the STEM field.

    The Science Learning Challenge in partnership with WestEd will provide $1.5 million in grants to up to 15 edtech companies and non-profits. The grants will range between $50.000 to $150.000 and the winners will also receive coaching and mentorship through a virtual accelerator program.

    Applications to the first NewSchools Ignite program are open until September 4th.

    Further Reading

    Introducing NewSchools Ignite: Accelerating Innovation in K-12 EdTech Market Gaps


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    MEP 051 John Danner Zeal Meet Education Project EDUKWEST

    In this episode of MEP, John Danner, co-founder and CEO of, joins us to talk about his story, going from the software industry, and becoming a teacher and making a positive impact in the education space.

    Guest Bio

    John is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Zeal, a software startup pioneering the next generation of online social learning. John’s first partner in this venture is Rocketship Education, where John was co-Founder and CEO for the previous eight years. Rocketship is the highest performing school system for low-income students in California and the first blended school system in the country, currently serving 3700 students.

    John was a fifth and second grade public school teacher before starting Rocketship. John’s first startup was NetGravity, the first Internet ad server company, where he was co-Founder and CEO. John took NetGravity public in 1998 and sold the company in 1999.

    John has a BS and MS Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and a M.Ed. in Education Policy from Vanderbilt University and is an Ashoka Fellow. John is a 1999Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. He was the 2010 winner of the John P. McNulty Prize.

    Show Notes

    (01:35) John’s background

    (11:50) That process going through the Department of Education. Tell me about that process for you in getting the first 1,2,3 schools of Rocketship through the California state system.

    (14:58) What do you think is the future of public education? What can public schooling look like in the next 5, 10, 20 years?

    (15:41) Public education has to come to grips with the fact that all children are online.

    (17:52) Learning what you need to learn individually at the right time for you is much, much more effective than learning what you kind of approximately should at your age.

    (21:17) With Zeal, for some reason I just started to think about the potential of Zeal and what internationally what Sugata Mitra was talking about The Hole in the Wall and self-organized learning environment. Do you see potential in what you’re doing now with Zeal in moving that sort of student-centric approach forward?

    (23:34) What’s the number one book that you usually give as a gift to people you care about- friends, family?

    Talent is Overrated

    (25:15) So when did you feel that you found your passion? At what age?

    (25:51) What’s your favorite documentary?

    Waiting For Superman

    26:52 If you could have dinner with one person you admire, past or present, who would it be and why?

    A great, great, great grandfather who was one of the pioneers of Wyoming


    Meet Education ProjectFor more episodes featuring thought leaders in education visit, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and follow Nick DiNardo on Twitter.

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    InvolvEdu EdTech Startup Profile EDUKWEST

    Name: InvolvEdu Website: Headquarters: Minneapolis, USA Vertical: K-12, Higher Education Tech: Web App, Mobile App

    Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.

    InvolvEdu is a free app for High School and College students that allows them to get credit for what they do outside of class.

    Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.

    Founded by Joe Janiszewski. Joe has been able to expand the InvolvEdu team by networking and finding the right people who are not only talented, but also share the same passion for involvement.

    How was the idea for your startup born?

    InvolvEdu was born out of necessity. As a student at the University of Minnesota, Joe noticed the inefficiencies with getting involved on campus, and also wanted a way to track and validate his participation in activities outside of class.

    What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.

    Gradual grade inflation is causing the GPA to become much less relevant. This is causing an uptick in extracurricular (student groups, study groups, volunteering) activities as students need to find other ways to set themselves apart on their resumes. The problem is that none of this involvement is regulated or tracked in any way. InvolvEdu solves this problem by offering the platform to validate participation, and export a student's involvement into a fully-vetted transcript for use in college applications or job interviews.

    Who are your main competitors? What sets you apart from them?

    Our biggest competitor is actually email. Email is the primary way that groups communicate with each other and with students about their events. There are also other companies that offer features similar to InvolvEdu, but none of them are completely free for students and groups. Every single one of them first requires a subscription from the school in order for students to use it. That is the biggest point of differentiation for InvolvEdu - we don't rely on subscriptions from schools in order to make money.

    In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.

    We are active in the Minneapolis area (which also happens to house some of the largest school districts and Universities in the United States). We are planning to expand this market to the surrounding schools and other states in the Midwest as well upon our initial roll out.

    Who is your target audience.

    Our target audience in High School and College students. We've also built in features for the officers of student groups/organizations, as well as school administrators.

    How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.

    Our app is free for any student and student group to use at any school. Without having a large barrier such as cost, we're able to acquire users of our product much easier than our other competitors. We engage with our users via direct, on-campus marketing efforts. By working with school's student associations on school outreach efforts, we're able to easily showcase the features of InvolvEdu. Once students are able to see how InvolvEdu works, conversion becomes much easier. There's also a network effect that happens because it benefits both the students and the student groups when there are more of each on the platform.

    How many users / downloads does your service have?

    We initially launched a closed beta with a select group of students and organizations at the University of Minnesota. Since then we have been iterating on our product, and rolling out additional features based on feedback and market research. We've launched a kickstarter campaign to raise the funds that we need to accelerate the development of our v.1 product set to launch prior to the start of the Fall 2015 school year.

    What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.

    InvolvEdu is completely free for all students and groups to use. There are some premium features that students and groups can opt for, but the free version still comes with all of the tracking and validating features of the core offering. We also have a component that's strictly for school administrators to easily manage their extracurricular programs.

    Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.

    Throughout our short start-up life, we've received numerous awards from business model and other start-up competitions. The most notable of which would be our semi-finalist finish in the 2014 Minnesota Cup competition ( - the largest statewide new venture competition in the United States.

    What are the next steps in growing your startup.

    Once we launch, it'll be a boots-on-the-ground marketing effort in order to acquire the users that we need in order to show significant adoption, and growth that we can use to jump start additional fundraising.

    How can people get in touch with you.

    Email: Twitter: @InvolvEdu Twitter: @JoeSzewski

    Room for anything else you would like to add.

    We're so honored to be featured on blogs such as EDUKWEST. We're also excited for what the future may hold on our quest to make it as easy as possible for students to get involved on campus, while also giving them a way to document and showcase their involvement.

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    Google Translate EDTECH 08 2015 EDUKWEST

    The Google Translate team introduced a bunch of new languages to the mobile app. Based on the technology of WordLens, a startup Google acquired last year, you can now instantly translate texts from 27 languages into English using a smartphone camera.

    Google also tweaked the instant conversation mode of the app, making it useable in areas with slow mobile networks. Instant Conversation enables users to communicate with people in other languages, using the smartphone as interpreter.

    Google also shared some data on the Google Translate community which was launched last year. Millions of language lovers have participated in the crowdsourcing community so far, adding more than 100 million words.

    In an interview with TechCrunch, Julie Cattiau, product manager at Google Translate pointed out that the team sees the app as a language learning aid rather than a replacement. Based on the feedback of learners who use Google Translate as a language learning tool, Google Translate added a feature that lets them hear translated words more slowly.


    Further Reading

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    Unizin CourseLoad EDBRIEF 08 2015 EDUKWEST

    Unizin, a consortium of higher education institutions, acquired e-textbook platform Courseload. Part of the team will join Unizin, further terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

    Courseload offers a suite of services around digital textbooks including Open Educational Resources and an online learning and collaboration tool called Courseload Engage. Courseload Engage offers features such as highlighting, annotation, bookmarking and search,as well as sharing study notes.

    Robin Littleworth, Chief Operating Officer at Unizin states in the press release

    "The Courseload software lends itself well to the Unizin services roadmap for content and analytics. We're excited about aligning our two similar missions and continuing to provide innovative solutions. For Unizin Members, it will provide a complete path for faculty to create content, deliver it across a range of student-preferred devices and gain insights to improve instruction."

    Founded in 2009, Courseload raised a $1.6 million Series A in 2012 led by Innovative Indiana Fund.

    Further Reading

    Unizin Acquires Courseload Software | PR Newswire

    Links |

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    Barnes and Noble Education EDBRIEF 08 2015 EDUKWEST

    Barnes & Noble Education, the new spin-off company operating the college bookstores, plans to acquire digital businesses to accelerate its growth rather than just growing organically.

    Trading under BNED, Barnes & Noble Education had its IPO on Monday. The company’s CEO Max Roberts stated that BNED has a competitive advantage over Amazon and Chegg with its 724 on-campus bookstores and deep relationships with faculty.

    There is also room for growth with 52% of schools still operating their own bookstores. The IPO also gives Barnes & Noble Education the opportunity for M&A. Before the separation from the parent company, BNED invested in FlashNotes, a study notes marketplace.

    BNED’s main competitors for the on-campus and textbook business are Amazon and Chegg. While Chegg is in the midst of completing its transition to 100% digital revenue, Amazon opened its first on-campus pick-up location at Purdue university in February.

    Further Reading


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    University Ventures Seed EDBRIEF 08 2015 EDUKWEST

    University Ventures, an investment firm focused on the higher education market, announced its $5 million seed portfolio.

    The fund already made initial seed investments in a couple of edtech companies, namely technology distribution network Entangled Ventures, job skills platform ProSky, ePortfolio company Portfolium, and SaaS platform CampusLogic.

    University Ventures Announces $5M Seed Portfolio and Initial Investments

    Early Stage Fund Stems Critical Gap in Education Markets

    NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - Jul 28, 2015) - University Ventures, an investment firm focused solely on higher education, announced today an allocation to a $5 million seed portfolio to support early-stage education technologies that address existing and emerging challenges in higher education and workforce development. Leveraging the firm's expertise in education, the investments aim to close a growing gap in education markets by helping the most promising solutions reach the market and scale.

    "There is no shortage of opportunities to invest in early-stage companies, but many investors unfamiliar with education end up funding new technologies that don't address the real pain points for institutions, students or employers," said Ryan Craig, Managing Director of University Ventures. "Our thesis-based approach has provided insight into the kinds of technologies universities need and can adopt, as well as a terrific pipeline of early-stage companies seeking to work with us."

    The Fund has already made initial seed investments including Entangled Ventures, a technology distribution network founded by education entrepreneur Paul Freedman; jobs skills platform ProSky; ePortfolio company Portfolium; and SaaS platform CampusLogic, helping colleges and universities manage financial aid more efficiently.

    "To be successful, emerging companies need more than just access to capital. They also need access to market insight, relationships, and domain experience," said Freedman, founder of Entangled Ventures. "University Ventures is regarded as a knowledgeable and connected investor in higher education. It is very exciting to now see them focus on enabling start-ups in the space."

    University Ventures' approach is to partner with institutions to build public-private partnerships that enable the institution to innovate from within. With various existing investments in service providers and academic institutions, University Ventures provides entrepreneurs with an environment to quickly test and iterate their solutions, while ensuring capital is being spent on the most viable innovations.

    "We are excited to be a part of the University Ventures family," said Crystal Huang, CEO of ProSky. "Their understanding of the future of higher education has been vital in much of our strategic planning. They have already and will continue to help us make strong connections and partnerships with key colleges. Because University Ventures is so entrenched in higher education, we have been able to meet with key decision makers."

    About University Ventures

    University Ventures partners with top-tier institutions and strategically directs private capital to develop innovative programs of exceptional quality that address major economic and social needs. With the deepest respect for the missions and traditions of colleges and universities, University Ventures pursues a differentiated strategy of 'innovation from within' and is confident that through innovation, these higher education institutions will be successful in fulfilling and expanding their missions.


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    Sphero SPRK EDTECH 08 2015 EDUKWEST

    Sphero (formerly Orbotix) introduced a new version of its popular ball-shaped robot which specifically targets the education market.

    The robot is called SPRK and comes with a series of apps and lessons that aim to teach coding and spark interest in science. SPRK has a clear shell, showing the inner workings of the robot.

    To get teachers, parents and students into learning with SPRK, Sphero created three sets of lessons, CORE, Middle School and STEM Challenges. CORE lessons explore the principles of math and science through programming. Middle school lessons challenge students in grades 6-8 and are aligned to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. STEM challenges are multi-day experiments foster creative problem-solving and teamwork.

    SPRK is available in the United States for $130 and Sphero provides some assistance for teachers who are looking for funding and grants via the company website.

    Founded in 2010, Sphero raised over $90 million in venture capital to date including Foundry Group and The Walt Disney Company.


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    MEP 061 David Lindrum Soomo Learning Meet Education Project EDUKWEST

    In this episode of MEP, the founder of Soomo Learning, David Lindrum, joins us to talk about the importance of instructional design, the digital evolution or lack thereof in higher education and where he sees things going.

    Guest Bio:

    For 20 years, David has lived and worked at the intersection of transformational learning and web technology. Working to create digital assets with major publishers including Pearson, Thomson (Cengage), and McGraw, he launched both MetaText and Shadowbox before founding Soomo as a lab for learning innovation. David’s heart is in creating transformative instructional design, and he excels in utilizing web technology to meet specific instructional challenges. His recent interests have extended to the field of course analytics, where he creates tools to enable data-driven design and targeted teaching and intervention strategies to create stronger student learning experiences.

    Show Notes:

    (01:54) David’s background

    (03:15) What is it about books that has captivated you and what gets you interested in the art form?

    (04:45) Let’s dive into your current project and what you’re doing at Soomo Learning to revolutionize how people learn and how they look at a digital textbook. Tell us about Soomo Learning, its foundations and where it is today.

    (06:52) Let’s say somebody is just used to the ebook being what it was 10 years ago, a non-interactive material for a student to go through. What is the technology and how is the experience different from a Soomo book rather than the PDF-type ebooks?

    (11:38) Have you seen specific types of students that have improved their outcomes based on your delivery method for this content? What have you seen in the analytics?

    (14:03) It sounds like faculty really like the ability to target where students are succeeding and where they’re potentially failing and then being able to make interventions at that specific point. Is that the main reason that the faculty love the experience with Soomo?

    (15:08) What do you believe will be in the next 5 years, not just about innovations and e-textbooks but also innovations in business models and where institutions are? Are we making progress?

    (18:30) Can you give us a peek behind the curtain of some creative things that you’re thinking about as far as new functionality in the next year or 2 years? Maybe some collaborative type things?  What are you looking at for improvements?

    (21:25) What’s the book that you most recommend to people you care about, friends, family, colleagues?

    Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller

    (22:37) What about documentaries? Do you watch them, and if you do, what’s your favorite?

    The War Room

    Good Hair

    (27:00) If you could have dinner with one person you admire, past or present, who would it be and why?

    Cornel West


    Contact Info:

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    Think Olio EdTech Startup Profile EDUKWEST

    Name: Think Olio Website: Headquarters: New York, USA Vertical: Higher Education, Lifelong Learning Tech: Web

    Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.

    Think Olio is a learning hub that connects teachers to hosts in their community to hold informal, in-person classes for lifelong learners.

    Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.

    David & Chris met in a social entrepreneurship course at Baruch College.

    How was the idea for your startup born?

    It started with a sad realization as we neared graduation:

    We may never see some of our favorite professors again, nonetheless get the opportunity to continue learning from them. And we really weren’t ready to stop taking classes, but we also weren’t sure we wanted to commit to (and pay for) grad school.

    This is when we came up with the idea for Think Olio. We thought: let’s take our favorite teachers — the very best ones — and let’s put them in intimate, local venues and make it easy for them to teach accessible, affordable classes in the community.

    What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.

    A lack of options for lifelong learning. No easy way to host lectures and classes for teachers and professionals. We also hope to make interdisciplinary learning commonplace.

    Who are your main competitors? What sets you apart from them?

    Our main competitors are either all online or they are tied down to a single location. You could think of TED talks as a competitor, but Olios are much more intimate classes rather than large auditorium-style lectures. Skillshare and Udemy are dependent upon peer to peer learning but they are entirely online. Meet-up facilitates in-person get togethers, but they are not learning focused and not curated in the same way we are.

    How many users / downloads does your service have?

    261 learners 30 teachers 20 hosts/venues

    In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.

    NYC. We are focusing on sustaining individual neighborhoods to perfect the model, then growing to new areas based on teacher interest. Right now we are in Brooklyn, focusing on Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy and Fort Greene.

    Who is your target audience.

    The lifelong learner: museum goer, podcast listener, book reader, with a curious mind.

    How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.

    Each class is different but we market each Olio with the help of each of the three parties (teachers, hosts, learners). The teacher brings sign-ups, the host brings sign-ups, and we also bring sign-ups. Everyone is incentivized to spread the word, so word-of-mouth marketing is very strong for us. Learning is inherently social, so it is always more fun to bring a friend to an Olio.

    What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.

    The teacher decides the price of the class then keeps 50% of the money made. The host gets 30% and then Think Olio keeps 20%.

    If you raised funding, how much did you raise. Who are your investors. If not, are you planning to raise funding.

    We have won almost $40,000 at different pitch competitions. We have not taken any outside investments yet. We are undecided about when we will seek funding.

    Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.

    We have held over 25 classes in only our first 6 months.

    What are the next steps in growing your startup.

    We are launching a 1000 teacher campaign where we ask people to nominate their favorite teacher to use Olio. It is our 1000 thank yous campaign, and people get a chance to thank the teachers who have really impacted them and share them with friends and family by nominating them to teach a class in their community.

    How can people get in touch with you. @whatisolio

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    News Corp Amplify Sale EDBRIEF 08 2015 EDUKWEST

    News Corp wrote down the value of Amplify after another disappointing sales season leading to an operating loss of $24 million, leading to a $371 write-off.

    In a conference call News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said the company is already in advanced negotiations to sell Amplify to a potential investor.

    Launched in 2012, Amplify is a tablet-based learning and analytics platform for the K-12 market. The subsidiary also manufactured its own tablet device but has now stopped the production. News Corp will stop advertising Amplify to new customers but continue to serve existing ones and develop the curriculum software.

    Amplify is based on the assets of Wireless Generation, an education company News Corp acquired in 2010 for $360 million.

    Joel Klein, CEO of Amplify, also confirmed talks with an outside investor in a memo to the employees and that the Amplify management team was considering to participate in the investment.

    News Corp hoped to turn its digital education business into a growing division for the company, shaking up the textbook market and compensate for declining revenues from newspapers and media. The company invested over $1 billion into Amplify and is expected to get around $100 million out of the sale.

    Further Reading


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    Blackboard Nivel Siete EDBRIEF 08 2015 EDUKWEST

    Keeping its pace of edtech acquisitions, Blackboard announced that the company has acquired Nivel Siete, a Moodle provider based in Columbia. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

    Founded in 2002, Nivel Siete has over 200 customers reaching over 400.000 learners in Latin America. The company will continue to operate under the Nivel Siete brand.

    Interestingly, as EDUKWEST reported in July, Blackboard itself might be up for sale for up to $3 billion.

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Blackboard today announced the acquisition of Nivel Siete, a leading Moodle provider operating in Latin America. By joining their forces, the two companies will be able to offer more services and solutions to organizations that leverage Moodle, one of the most widely used learning management systems (LMS) in the world, and support a greater number of learners to achieve their educational goals.

    Nivel Siete offers a variety of learning solutions, hosting, support and consulting services that help organizations succeed in their teaching and learning initiatives, especially those that focus on the use of e-learning for talent management and training. Headquartered in Colombia, the company serves over 200 customers in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

    "The addition of Nivel Siete to the Blackboard family testifies to our commitment to open source," said Matthew Small, senior vice president and managing director, international at Blackboard. "We are seeing strong momentum for our open source solutions and in particular for Moodlerooms, with the addition of more than 80 new customers around the world in the last few months and a significant growth in Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Brazil. Our open source solutions play an integral part in our strategy and we will continue to support their growth. I am thrilled to work together with the team at Nivel Siete and improve the educational experience for learners in Latin America."

    "We are excited to join forces with Blackboard and help learners and organizations be successful," said José Diáz, CEO at Nivel Siete. "By working together with Blackboard we will be able to enhance the range of solutions and services we provide to institutions and businesses across Latin America. The local Moodle community will benefit from this acquisition, as it will open up new opportunities to share knowledge and best practices."

    Today's announcement marks the latest investment made by Blackboard in open source after the recent acquisitions of Remote-Learner UK and X-Ray Analytics technology. Since officially joining the open source community in 2012, Blackboard has been contributing to Moodle with code, quality assurance, platform integrations and bug fixes. It has also supported many community gatherings across the world.

    For more information about Blackboard, please visit or follow @Blackboard on Twitter.

    About Blackboard Inc.

    Blackboard is the world's leading education technology company. We challenge conventional thinking and advance new models of learning in order to reimagine education and make it more accessible, engaging and relevant to the modern day learner and the institutions that serve them. In partnership with our customers and partners in higher education and K-12 as well as corporations and government agencies around the world, our mission is to help every learner achieve their full potential by inspiring a passion for lifelong learning. For more information about Blackboard, follow us on Twitter @Blackboard.

    Any statements in this press release about future expectations, plans and prospects for Blackboard represent the Company's views as of the date of this press release. Actual results may differ materially as a result of various important factors. The Company anticipates that subsequent events and developments will cause the Company's views to change. However, while the Company may elect to update these statements at some point in the future, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to do so.

    SOURCE Blackboard Inc.


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