EdTech News Roundup 3/14 - 3/20
A chocolate-frosted cupcake is found in Morningside Heights
Nothing from me this week, on to the news!
Funding / M&A / IPOs
Classplus raises $62M: Delhi-based Classplus provides a platform for K12 teachers to sell online courses to students. It sounds like this round will be used to continue expanding in their home market
Cialfo raises $60M: Cialfo provides a platform that connects college students with universities. The platform is used by 60%+ of all Indian high schools and a diverse array of US, European, and Asian universities
Perlego raises $50M: Perlego offers subscription access to 850K+ digital textbooks used by university students. Having been at Cengage during their transition to subscription services, textbook subscriptions are a model I am quite fond of. Without knowing too much about Perlego’s business, purely being a layer on top of the publishers feels like a precarious strategic position to be in. Then again, the same could have been said of Chegg ten years ago and they are now bigger than most of the publishers whose textbooks Chegg rented
ThriveDX acquires Kontra: I’ve already written about the warchest ThriveDX put together for inorganic growth, Kontra is the first of what I expect to be many acquisitions in the coming years (months?). Kontra adds a corporate channel to ThriveDX’s cybersecurity focused go-to-market strategy
Educapital raises $150M venture fund: Educapital is a rapidly-growing early-stage fund based in Europe. Their main competitors on the continent are Brighteye Ventures and Emerge Education in what appears to be a rapidly growing European EdTech scene
I’ve never been in a food fight, but they look glorious on TV. The idle chatter of a cafeteria turning into sheer chaos as grilled cheeses, chocolate-frosted cupcakes, and containers full of lentil soup are weaponized as dodge balls. The gluttony of being able to take a perfectly good piece of food and throw it across a room, knowing the deed will (probably) go unpunished. And then! You can quietly walk out the door before it all begins to smell.
A professor at Columbia recently hurled a cupcake at his own institution. In a blog post, Michael Thaddeus, former chair of Columbia’s math department, outlines all the way he believes Columbia falsifies the data the institution submits to US News for its annual ranking.
Columbia’s response, via the NYT article on the showdown, was something along the lines of, “hey man, you’re on sabbatical (apparently bored) in Istanbul and you scraped this data from our public-facing website, there’s more to it than what you wrote.” Which seems…like a pretty reasonable rebuttal?
If this were the first cupcake thrown across the room, we might shrug it off as a crazy professor. But the floor is already covered in lentils. Just 3 months ago, the Dean of Temple’s business school went to jail for propping up its ranking using false data. In 2019, UC Berkeley and four other schools were dropped from the US News rankings for falsifying rankings data. Also in 2019, the University of Oklahoma admitted to falsifying rankings data for twenty years.
Pushing schools to new lows in terms of what they will do for status, we now have more “rankers” than ever. US News now ranks (and sells ads alongside) everything from Learning Communities to A-plus schools for B students.1 If you don’t like what US News has to say, you can also look at Fortune, Forbes, Niche (not NECHE, that would be ridiculous), the Princeton Review, Kiplinger, Washington Monthly, College Choice, Wallet Hub, and more.2
If you don’t have time to go through all those lists, don’t worry. This site will tell you all about them - a ranking of rankers! Please enjoy the online university banner ads conveniently placed about 1/3 down the page.
Sigh. The whole ranking process now just reeks of click-bait profiteering rather than helping students find the right school for them.
The intersection of EdTech and TikTok: Unfortunately the videos have been removed, but a well-know EdTech company forgot to claim their TikTok handle. Suffice to say, the ~18 year-old who claimed it had an axe to grind with her homework apps and an impressive ability to chug Smirnoff Ice while gesturing profanely. Her videos racked up close to five million views in the ten days she “held the handle hostage” - attention most companies would kill for! Cape Fear Community College tried leaning into Tiktok last year; I’d be eager to watch a larger brand try it (intentionally) too
School buses as traffic cops: cities are installing cameras on school buses. The initial use case is for drivers who pass school buses while they have stopped traffic for pickups (yikes!). The camera program in Montgomery County, MD has yielded $39M in tickets since 2016
Being a teenager is hard: An increasing number of US schools are allowing students to go maskless in school. There are many reasons to cheer this, but going maskless is introducing a whole new set of social anxieties over both mask politics and physical appearance after 2+ years of a mask-driven social order. If you have a teen in your life, even loosely adjacent to you, do something nice for them this week
UC Berkeley housing fight: 2 weeks ago I wrote about a court order limiting UC Berkeley’s enrollment for this fall. The California state legislature quickly overruled the courts, but this WSJ article points out that the core problem (too little housing in Berkeley, for both students and residents) remains unsolved
The City Football Leadership Institute: City Football Group (CFG), owners of Manchester City FC, New York FC, and eight other football (soccer) teams around the world, is launching a corporate training program. It’s sort of unclear what this program will actually teach, but it sounds like participants get to hang out at Manchester City’s stadium for a week. Sign me up!3
If someone shared this with you, I hope you’ll sign up!
If you found something particularly insightful, throw me a heart and share it!
These are great areas of discussion, but do we really think this can be done objectively?
So, so many more. I do not recommend googling this topic
Long time readers/friends may know of my previous life as a hardworking/passionate but not particularly talented soccer player : )