Discover more from ETCH
EdTech News Roundup 4/4 - 4/10
I made it in the lab
Well, it wasn’t quite as action-packed as last summer’s GSV, but reports suggest fun was had and no one fell off the aircraft carrier.
If your EdTech news thirst was not quite slaked, I have some audio content to accompany you on your Monday morning stroll! I pinch-hit as co-host on Alex Sarlin and Ben Kornell’s | EdTech Insiders podcast. We interviewed Michael Vilardo on Subject’s recent raise, talked about GSV, and other fun things.
On to the news!
Funding / M&A / IPOs
Labster raises $47M: Labster provides virtual, interactive, science-focused content (often in the form of labs) to universities AND high schools around the world. I highlight the AND above because chasing both markets is key to understanding both the amount of capital ($147M in total, after last year’s $60M round) raised and the implied valuation. Combined with Subject’s $29M fundraise two weeks ago, Owl Ventures appears to be increasingly serious about funding new-era publishers
Sales Impact Academy (SIA) raises $22M: SIA is part of a growing crop of sales (or, more broadly, go-to-market) training providers tackling the 13M-strong job category, one of the largest segments of the white-collar job market. This funding round gives SIA the imprimatur of Hubspot, one of the leading software platforms for sales teams
Kaleidoscope raises $10M: Kaleidoscope connects high school and college students with scholarship opportunities they qualify for - facilitating over $370M in scholarships last year. The company claims over $60B in scholarships are disbursed annually
Pursuit raises $10M: Pursuit provides job training and support for entry-level jobs in the tech industry. The company uses ISAs to de-risk the cost of training for students
August Schools raises $5M: August schools provides a platform for K12 student health management, with aspirations of “modernizing software in schools.” This round was led by Tiger Global, which has grown hungry for investments in the past 2-3 years, but has not spent much time in the EdTech space to date
Quereos raises $3M: Quereos offers at platform at the intersection of three EdTech trends: mentorship, project-based learning, and gig work. They do this by sourcing projects for their 25K students from 300 different employers. Students are assigned “practical tasks”, which are then graded and given feedback by a team of 200 mentors. While similar-ish models like Riipen and Parker Dewey compete in the US, UAE-based Quereos focuses on the rest of the world, claiming users from 133 different countries
SchoolMint acquires Enrollhand: Enrollhand provides marketing and enrollment services for K12 schools. Their services will be rolled directly into Schoolmint’s Engage recruitment offering, which I wrote about just last week. The acquisition announcement coming on the heels of the product announcement suggests that the acquisition is more about expanding SchoolMint’s sales channel than product capabilities
First, caveat emptor that we are working with anecdata here, but with a premise that feels logical.
The premise is that all the pandemic band aids high school and college faculty used to survive 2020 - more open-book tests, liberal use of Pass/Fail instead of grading materials, fewer concepts covered, and maybe even some lower standards - are hurting students as classes return to normal. Students who “passed” introductory courses are failing subsequent courses as they struggle with core concepts, shaking not only their GPAs but also their confidence.
The result (again, anecdata!) is failure rates in some courses skyrocketing from 4-5% to 20-25% and students being threatened with the loss of scholarship and financial aid funding.
Uri Treisman, a calculus professor at UT Austin, calls out the dilemma many faculty now face with the return to semi-normal class environments and the expectation that they (faculty) can make up for lost time and teach new material, “It’s so tempting to lower the standard. The big risk, from a teaching perspective, is that I give them a good grade and they’re not prepared for what comes next.”
EdTech VC still bullish on EdTech: All jokes aside, the author, New Markets’ Jason Palmer, does a fantastic job outlining the history of EdTech and how we can use a historical perspective to envision where EdTech is headed.1 Short version; there are many areas within EdTech to be excited about it, but the two questions swirling through investors’ (or at least Jason and my) minds are 1) Why now? and 2) Why this one?
Northeastern and Pearson partner on Advanced Nursing Degrees: I normally don’t cover specific OPM agreements (32EDU is your company for that!), but this one stuck out because it is an instance where both the OPM and the university are bringing a capability to the table - Pearson with online marketing and enrollment services and Northeastern with expertise in experiential learning.2
Noodle and EdAssist partner on tuition benefits programs: On a similar macro note, it looks like OPMs and Tuition Assistance providers continue to be fast friends
Sports betting on college campuses: Last Monday concluded the first version of “March Madness” with gambling formally allowed. I don’t have a philosophical stance on the subject, but the sheer amount of money involved (an estimated $3.1B on gambling, billions more in TV and ticket revenue) has me agreeing with Dabo Swinney that college sports is going to be completely blown up
Ed Tech Thoughts is a short ( < 5 mins), weekly overview of the top stories in EdTech, with my gut reactions attached. If you enjoyed this edition, I hope you will subscribe and/or forward to your friends!
Thing(s) I’m Thinking About
Am I missing any stories? Making light of a topic that deserves deeper examination?
While the goal of this newsletter is a quick weekly roundup, I take particular joy in writing about topics the broader EdTech industry hasn’t spent much time on. If you have a topic you’d like to see get more airtime, I’m going to start including the below link.
You can submit anonymously or…nonymously? I make no promises that the subject will make it into a newsletter, but will think about each one (and respond to all who provide contact info)
I say this with 100% earnestness - it took courage for Jason to admit the bets he missed on, including his own company. He didn’t have to include personal examples, but including them made me appreciate the rest of what he said that much more
Of note, Northeastern highlights 10 different campus locations in 3 different countries in this release. It is tough to see them challenging their Manchester-based competitor to the north in terms of undergraduate enrollment volume, but interesting to see a different approach to attaining national/global brand recognition