EdTech Thoughts 10/31 - 11/6
Space Force U
Hello! The end of the year approaches, with many announcements to go with it. On the docket over the next few weeks:
In Washington DC 11/15-17, I’m hoping to meet folks for 1:1s and, potentially, a happy hour (location TBD)
In Boston 11/21-22, I’ll likewise be around for 1:1s and, if enough folks are interested, a happy hour
If you are open to meeting in any of these locales, please let me know! You can either email me directly or just hit reply to this newsletter (it ends up in my inbox either way).
On to the news!
Funding / M&A
Classera raises $40M: San Francisco-based Classera is a Learning Super Platform used by 10M+ learners across the MENA region. While I cannot condone the continued proliferation of adverbs for Learning Platforms, the company does offer an impressive bundle of applications and content partners for schools in their target market. Funds from this round will be used to expand into the corporate and APAC market segments
Floreo raises $10M: Washington D.C.-based Floreo provides therapy to nuerodiverse children via VR. This funding round appears closely related to the American Medical Association’s approval of VR-based therapies for doctor-led implementation and continued study.1
Pixera raises ~$5.7M: Back in May, it seemed like VR was primed to have a moment this year. VR Companies, including Pixera, have raised $100M+ since that piece, but the segment still feels understudied/funded. London-based Pixera focuses specifically on workforce training VR simulations, which the company claims improve workers’ confidence in their skills by 275%
Odyssey raises $4.75M: New York-based Odyssey helps states launch and manage education savings accounts (ESAs). ESAs, which provide parents with the flexibility to spend the state education funding allocated to their children as they see fit, were pioneered in Arizona and are a rapidly-growing trend in US K12 education. Odyssey’s platform reduces the friction parents often find when navigating state funding bureaucracy and provides states with a transparent view of how education funding is being spent2
Emerge Career raises $3.2M: New York-based Emerge Career provides educational opportunities - currently Commercial Driver’s Licenses, Nursing Assistant certificates, and welding courses - to incarcerated people. They join American Prison Data Systems in fundraising for a market that is primed to grow quickly now that Pell grants are available to incarcerated people again
Edkasa raises $320K: Lahore-based Edkasa provides exam prep for high school students in Pakistan. The company partnered with Tiktok to provide a social element to their video content (the company started as a Youtube channel), but it is sort of unclear what will be hosted on Tiktok vs. the company’s eponymous app
ICIMs acquires SkillSurvey: Malvern-based SkillSurvey provides skill-based reference checks to job candidates for 2300+ companies. The company joins ICIMs, one of the largest HR Information Systems in the world
Times Higher Education (THE) acquires dataHE: Bristol-based dataHE helps universities in the UK analyze data, predominantly to help with student recruitment. They join the rapidly expanding THE team, which had already added Inside Higher Ed, The Knowledge Partnership, and BMI to its portfolio in the past ~12 months.
One Interesting Job
Chegg is one of the largest learning companies in the world. Chegg Skills is one of the company’s fastest-growing business units, receiving a lot of attention during their most recent financial reporting sessions. Chegg’s Skills team is now looking for someone to manage their B2B partnerships growth.
This is a great role for early-to-mid career folks looking for a cross-functional and KPI-driven job to add to their resume. It also provides exposure to the “growth” career path, which is nascent but in high demand across big tech companies. Finally, Chegg is one of the more acquisitive companies in EdTech, so I suspect there will be both organic and inorganic opportunities for career growth beyond this role.
Want a job featured here? reply to this email for more details. Today’s feature is not paid and not an endorsement of this newsletter by Chegg, but this section may be sponsored in the future
LAUSD hits the neonatal recruiting trail: I watch | LAUSD | Superintendent Alberto Carvalho’s strategic moves for the same reason I am watching the growth of ESAs - they are harbingers of what the future of K12 education looks like. Perhaps inspired by the Finnbin, Carvalho launched a student recruitment campaign at USC Medical Center’s Maternity ward where newborns are given a LAUSD-branded beanie, onesie, bib, blanket, and informational pamphlet on early-childhood development milestones
Video game use in early-childhood education: The debate around screentime started pre-pandemic, but, understandably, fell down the priority list over the past two years. I am fairly convinced it will re-surface as a Big Topic as ESSER funding depletes and we work through immediate solutions to learning loss. I don’t know where I sit on the topic. I know technology can be a powerful force for learning. I also know it can be powerfully addictive
Supreme Court hearings on Affirmative Action: the post-hearings consensus seems to be that the judges’ lines of questioning indicate a preference towards overturning past rulings that supported the continued use of affirmative action, but the court will not issue a decision until June 2023. In the meantime, I am looking for more examples of expert opinions on the topic like the Chronicle published this week
College Board attempts to buy enrollment marketing agency Carnegie Dartlett: The FTC is already considering whether to scuttle the deal on anti-competitive grounds, but even announcing a deal like this seems like a signal that College Board wants to substantially change its business coming out of COVID. Buying Carnegie Dartlett looks like an attempt to more tightly integrate into the student recruitment/enrollment process. While vertical integration is often a noble goal, College Board’s specific strength is in the breadth of students and schools that leverage its tools (namely, selling the exact same list of student names + SAT scores to virtually every college in America), which makes me skeptical of the move
Trilogy Bootcamps migrated to edX brand: All of 2U has been adopting the edX brand, so this is not a particularly surprising move, but there were two data points of note in the announcement. Trilogy/2U/edX bootcamps serve 10K+ students annually and have graduated 60K+ since 2016, making them, by far, the largest bootcamp provider in the world3
Space Force U: Before you get excited, Space Force classes will not be in space, but rather in Baltimore.4 The Space Force Degree will come from Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Alien wargames are fun to watch on TV, but the immediate challenge we face in space is one of resource diplomacy, so it is sort of comforting to know our Space Force folks are starting at SAIS
Question of the Week
I wish there was a way to connect multiple polls so that I could see how the answer to this question varies by age and parental status, but, alas. Please choose the answer that you think fits best, even if it isn’t perfect.
Results of last week’s poll:
Ed Tech Thoughts is a short ( ~ 5 mins), weekly overview of the top stories in EdTech, with a few (hopefully interesting) gut reactions attached. If you enjoyed this edition, I hope you will subscribe and/or forward to your friends!
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I’m paraphrasing here for a general audience, I welcome feedback on a better way to put this in laymen’s terms! The actual verbiage from the article is: “The funding comes on the heels of a Category III Current Procedural Terminology Code (CPT) from the American Medical Association for the use of VR technology to assist with therapy. CPT III codes are temporary codes used to report emerging technologies, procedures and services.
As noted on my Disclosure page (also linked in the section above), I am an angel investor in Odyssey
Career Karma’s “State of the Bootcamp Market” report linked to above (and here) is mostly focused on consumer-branded bootcamps. There are other large white-labelled bootcamp providers in the US and abroad, but I feel relatively confident in my statement
Sorry Baltimore! You are great, but not space