EDTECH NEWS ARCHIVE - Week of October 1, 2018

September 26, 2018

CAN YOU SPEAK MATH? Bamboo Learning, a Seattle-based startup that offers interactive voice educational products, is receiving an undisclosed investment from Amazon’s Alexa Fund, which supports companies that use its voice technology. The company is using Alexa technology to create a voice-assisted math practice and instructional product, called Bamboo Math. The product will cover a range of exercises from basic arithmetic to more advanced word problems, and will be released on Oct. 11, Geekwire reports. It will initially be free.

September 27, 2018

THE SOCIAL CODE: SoloLearn, a San Francisco-based startup behind a coding education and community platform, has raised $5.6 million in a Series A round led by Naspers Ventures. Existing backer Learn Capital also participated in the funding.

September 27, 2018

A recent New York Times article highlighted the financial struggle that many institutions are facing, with no sign that pressures will soon let up. “Continual belt-tightening is creating a number of negative outcomes,” says Eric J. Barron, president of Pennsylvania State University. “Henry Houdini was never bound this tightly.” 

Colleges are, in many respects, between a rock and a hard place. Budgets may be shrinking, but institutions still must deliver the high-quality connectivity students expect and the information security defenses needed in this era of persistent threats. For institutions feeling the fiscal pressure, technology integration may be the answer to relieving stress without sacrificing the goods.

September 26, 2018

ACT AT IT AGAIN: ACT, the nonprofit education organization best known for its college-readiness assessment, is acquiring the “automated item generation” (AIG) technology from Canada-based MGHL Consulting. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

The purchase comes exactly one year and one day after the ACT announced it would begin working with MGHL and using the company’s AIG technology to enhance its test development process. AIG technology produces test questions with the help of advanced computer programs. The technique has been “thoroughly assessed and verified through rigorous research,” including research conducted by the ACT, the nonprofit said in a press release.

September 26, 2018

Salesforce.org, the nonprofit division of Salesforce, today pledged to give $15.5-million to two California school districts to bolster computer science education, train teachers, teach math in innovative ways and support projects to encourage mindfulness.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced the donation during the annual ‘Dreamforce’ conference in San Francisco.

September 28, 2018

Google has partnered with colleges around the country to offer students its entry-level IT Professional Certificate Training, Inside Higher Ed reports.

The course was created through Google's "Grow with Google" program, which offers a multitude of online certifications and lesson plans.

The training program will be available on Coursera to students in 25 community colleges in California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. In addition to these community colleges, students at Northwestern University can earn up to 12 credits toward an online bachelor’s degree in information technology. 

September 26, 2018

Chegg plunged more than 12 percent Wednesday after disclosing a data breach that could affect customers' user information.

In a filing with the SEC Tuesday, the online textbook rental and tutorial company said that, in late April, an unauthorized party gained access to a company database hosting user data — including names, emails, shipping addresses and passwords. Chegg said user data for its family of brands, including EasyBib, could also have been impacted.

September 25, 2018

Last week at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference, the head of Air Force training Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast spoke at length about some new ways cadets are onboarding into the cockpits of U.S. aircraft. A large aspect of that training in the future will likely occur at the hands of AI-powered simulators.As the commander of Air Education and Training Command told military.com, a pilot program testing out the use of adaptive learning algorithms in military flight training has shown promising results. He believes it will be able to push the mental limits of pilots before they set foot in an aircraft.

Please reload

EDTECH NEWS ARCHIVE - September 24, 2018

September 24, 2018

BOXING DAY: Boxlight Corporation, a publicly-traded company that offers interactive displays and hardware technology for the education market, has acquired a K-12 consulting and professional development firm, EOS Education. The transaction was made with 100,000 shares of Boxlight common stock, which at the time of writing is trading at $3.12 a piece. (That would value the deal at roughly $300,000.)

EOS, based in Phoenix, will continue operations as a subsidiary of Boxlight. With the acquisition, Boxlight expects that its professional services division will make up as much as 10 percent of the company’s overall revenues, according to a press release.

September 21, 2018

On June 27, 2018, the California Legislature, in a flurry of last-minute activity, passed the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA). Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on the same day, and the CCPA is set to become effective on January 1, 2020.

This is a game-changing law that will impact companies in the U.S. and globally, and moves the U.S. toward closer alignment with the European Union, where the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) went into effect in May.

September 21, 2018

Among the emerging technologies hitting the K–12 sphere, virtual, augmented and mixed reality toolshave garnered a lot of interest.

Mixed reality has remarkable potential for the K–12 classroom. Here is a tool that lets students explore the molten core of our planet or get deep in the anatomy of a frog without ever picking up a scalpel — all with the click of a button.

Mixed reality is still relatively new, however, and while more research is coming out on its benefits, teachers want to make sure investing in virtual reality headsets will open new doors for their students and not just be another shiny toy collecting dust in the classroom.

September 21, 2018

A public university in North Carolina has teamed up with six community colleges to offer a program that promises students they will pay no more than $10,000 out of pocket for their four-year degree.

Participating students will attend a two-year college in the state to get their Associate’s degree, then transfer to an online program at Fayetteville State University to finish their bachelor’s. The students will continue to have access to mentors and resources at the local community college to help them stay on track.

September 20, 2018

“Computer science for all” — a favorite catchphrase in edtech — can only be achieved when computer science education is as accessible to traditionally marginalized groups, such as black and Latinx students, as it is for everyone else. That’s the impetus behind Tech Exchange, Google’s latest effort to increase diversity in tech and make its own company look more like its users.

The program, announced Tuesday and launched this fall, sends 65 students from 11 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) to the West Coast to stretch, test and sharpen their computer science savvy.

September 20, 2018

ASK AMIRA: Amira Learning, a Napa, California-based startup behind an AI-powered reading assistant, has raised $3 million in a seed round led by Vertical Venture Partners. The company claims its reading tool, which assess students on oral reading fluency and offers intervention supports, is built with technology based on artificial intelligence research from Carnegie Mellon University.

September 20, 2018

BOULDER — A Boulder education tech startup, Class Composer, is entering a yearlong accelerator program in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Class Composer is a software-as-a-service company that helps teachers and schools make equitable class assignments. It was accepted to the Iowa Startup Accelerator from the New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative.

September 19, 2018

Maxeme Tuchman is a force to be reckoned with. The daughter of Cuban immigrants whose parents fled the Bolshevik Revolution and the Holocaust, Tuchman learned early on that the only thing that lasts when you flee from danger is education. Now, after struggling with English as her second language, joining Teach For America, Mayor Bloomberg's Office, the Gates Foundation, Harvard Business School and being selected as a White House Fellow by President Obama, Tuchman is channeling her passion for educational equity into EdTech with the launch of video reading app Caribu. We sat down to chat with her about her dream to make sure that every child receives the quality education no matter their zip code, the color of their skin or the country in which they were born. 

Please reload

EDTECH NEWS ARCHIVE - September 17, 2018

September 17, 2018

Last summer, when I was working for ThinkCERCA, which helps students develop critical thinking skills through reading and writing, the edtech startup was facing a big decision: should it try and break into the lucrative Chinese market?

On the one hand, China’s private education market is projected to grow 9 percent per year until 2020, reaching a value of $330 billion—an enticing market for many American entrepreneurs. On the other, the uncertainty of the market, and the fact that it looks very different from the U.S. education space, can pose serious challenges to any organization.

September 17, 2018

New Delhi-based Imagismart Solutions, company that operates Xplorabox, an activity-based learning platform, has raised an undisclosed amount of funds in seed funding, as reported by Inc42.

The round was led by Mumbai-based startup accelerator Z Nation Lab, baby hygiene products manufacturer Sridham Enterprises, and US-based investment fund Metaform Ventures.

The fresh fund will be used to expand its services by launching products for higher age-group categories, along with expanding to overseas markets like North America and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

September 12, 2018

Students and teachers were not the only ones to return to class this week.

Nearly a thousand of the education industry’s C-level executives, private equity fund managers and investors gathered at BMO Capital’s “Back to School” conference in New York City. On their syllabus: networking and identifying the latest market trends in the education industry that can drive a company’s growth—and, of course, financial returns.

If ASU+GSV Summit is the edtech industry’s playground for dealmaking, this is the VIP club for its financiers. Few, if any educators were present (ironic, given the back-to-school theme). Instead, bankers and financial analysts showed up in full force. Early-stage education entrepreneurs were also in short supply; word in the halls was that private companies were expected to be making $15 million-plus in revenue to get a formal invite.

September 12, 2018

Thailand-based edtech accelerator StormBreaker Venture announced the five startups selected to join the first batch of its inaugural programme.

The five edtech companies, selected from the total 70 applicants received, will participate in an intensive bootcamp from September to October 2018, with the final pitch taking place on a Demo Day in November.

September 12, 2018

It’s not uncommon for U.S. Department of Education (ED) officials to go on to work in education technology after Washington. Former education secretary Arne Duncan is now a partner at Emerson Collective, and has also joined the board of directors at edtech companies including Pluralsight and Turnitin. Former directors at Education Department’s technology office, including Karen Cator, Richard Culatta and Joseph South, now hold executive roles at different education technology nonprofits.

September 11, 2018

n the foreseeable future, mixed reality glasses with 5G capabilities will change education, enabling some students to learn from far-away teachers and transforming fundamentals of the classroom experience for others. To make that future happen sooner for more kids, Verizon and NYC Media Lab are teaming up for the Verizon 5G EdTech Challenge, a contest to harvest 5G-based education solutions using mixed reality and/or machine learning technology, with a total of $1 million in prize money to encourage the submission of ideas.

Please reload

EDTECH NEWS ARCHIVE - September 10, 2018

September 24, 2018

BOXING DAY: Boxlight Corporation, a publicly-traded company that offers interactive displays and hardware technology for the education market, has acquired a K-12 consulting and professional development firm, EOS Education. The transaction was made with 100,000 shares of Boxlight common stock, which at the time of writing is trading at $3.12 a piece. (That would value the deal at roughly $300,000.)

EOS, based in Phoenix, will continue operations as a subsidiary of Boxlight. With the acquisition, Boxlight expects that its professional services division will make up as much as 10 percent of the company’s overall revenues, according to a press release.

September 10, 2018

Perlego, which describes itself as the ‘Spotify for textbooks’, has raised $4.8m (£3.7m) in a venture round.

ADV led the investment with participation from existing Angel investors, including Simon Franks, co-founder of Lovefilm; Peter Hinssen; and Alex Chesterman, founder of Zoopla.

The startup is founded by 25-year-olds Gauthier Van Malderen and Matthew Davis and seeks to give students and professionals unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of professional and academic eBook titles for £12 a month.

September 10, 2018

At the start of this decade, the education industry saw hundreds of flowers bloom. Launched from garages and tech accelerators, startup after startup burst onto the scene with technology tools for the education market.

The industry has since consolidated, due in part to an uptick in mergers and acquisitions by education companies and private equity firms. Data from investment bank, Berkery Noyes suggest these deals have grown at a steady clip since 2013.

September 10, 2018

Bengaluru-based AI-focussed edtech startup Verzeo has secured Series A funding of $5 Mn, serial entrepreneur and founder of the startup Vungarala V Subrahmanyam, disclosed in a recent interaction with Inc42.

The 20-year-old entrepreneur shared that the company secured funds from undisclosed high net-worth (HNI) individuals in India and plans to use the funds to improve marketing and expansion of the product as well as on research and development.

September 06, 2018

As college students head back to school, electric scooter companies want to help them get to class.

Colleges and universities are among the latest points of interest for e-scooter operators, which have taken major cities across the country by storm after deploying the dockless scooters—sometimes unannounced. They’ve developed a reputation for littering streets, creating safety hazards, and even threatening to call the police on riders who don’t pay. Some cities, like San Francisco, issued cease-and-desist letters until officials and scooter operators agreed on how the companies can operate.

September 06, 2018

Private equity’s pursuit to acquire puzzle pieces to build comprehensive educational technology platforms shows no sign of slowing down.

The latest move comes from CIP Capital, a New York City-based private equity firm that is investing an undisclosed sum in Carnegie Learning. As a result of the deal, Carnegie will be merging with New Mountain Learning(which is owned by CIP), and the combined operations will continue under the Carnegie Learning name.

September 04, 2018

Far from the bustle of bake sales and car washes, crowdfunding sites have made it easy for teachers, schools and even district officials to ask for donations of school supplies. Yet some schools hesitate to use such a powerful resource.

According to Damon M. Qualls, principal at Monaview Elementary School, Greenville, South Carolina, it can come down to appearances. Many teachers are very concerned about appearing to ‘beg for money’

September 05, 2018

ACT, the nonprofit best known for its college-readiness test, is undergoing a major transformation. Ever since taking the helm as CEO in 2015, Marten Roorda says ACT has closed 10 deals in which it has invested in, acquired or formed strategic partnerships with educational companies.

September 04, 2018

Some of the earliest and largest coding bootcamp programs shut their doors for good last year. And it left many people wondering if these short term tech training programs are actually worth the investment (for investors and students alike).

One person who’s remained optimistic about the shake ups in the industry is Ruben Harris. Harris is a CEO of Career Karma, which aims to help prospective students navigate the bootcamp market, and he also hosts his own podcast about breaking into the tech industry, called Breaking into Startups.

Please reload

EDTECH NEWS ARCHIVE - September 3, 2018

September 03, 2018

As the Indian startup ecosystem witnesses next level of growth with old investors marking exit to welcome new investors in the ecosystem, Bengaluru-based edtech startup Unacademy continues to level up its game as one of its oldest backers— venture Capital firm WaterBridge Ventures— has decided to move on from the company.

September 03, 2018

India’s leading edtech unicorn BYJU’S is in advanced talks with at least two new investors — private equity firm General Atlantic, and Singapore government-owned Temasek Holdings — to raise $200-300 Mn funding.

If the talks materialise, the deal will value BYJU’S at $2.2-2.4 Bn, with the transaction expected to close within the next few weeks, people familiar with the development told Livemint.

August 30, 2018

Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist for female schooling and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, spoke today about the role of technology in helping spread education, the importance of raising awareness for the various injustices in the world, and the inspiration she draws from magic.

Malala made a wide variety of comments onstage at Pluralsight Live in Salt Lake City, Utah, but the ones about technology stood out to us. The conversation veered from sharing personal anecdotes with Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnardto cracking jokes at every opportunity, much to the audience’s delight.

August 30, 2018

When it comes to Chinese edtech, English language learning is often the name of the game. And leading the charge in that sector is VIPKid, a company that has experienced stratospheric growth in recent years. Just this month, the online educator announced a partnership with Microsoft and American publishing giant Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

In addition, CEO Cindy Mi has been featured in Business InsiderFast Company, and has appeared on stage with former First Lady Laura Bush at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.

August 28, 2018

EDTECH BUSINESS

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is doling out $92 million to charter networks and nonprofits around the country as part of a new approach to getting more low-income students into college. Part of a longer-term project, the foundation has pledged $460 million over the next five years in pursuit of the same goals.

Please reload