Discover more from ETCH
ETCH Weekend Reading 10/8/23
North Carolina ESAs, debating the value of college, and a typeface custom-designed for dyslexic learners
It was delightful to see so many of you this week in NYC - a welcome reminder that while email is a great way to keep in touch, there is no substitute for getting together in person once in a while.
Hoping to fit one or two more trips in before the end of the year, stay tuned!
On to the update.
Funding / M&A
Concentric Education Solutions raises $5M / US, Student Support (Analytics) / New Markets Venture Partners
Class Companion raises $4M / US, Teacher Tools / Index Ventures, OpenAI Startup Fund
TAP raises $1M / Netherlands, Career Bootcamp / Wamda Capital, Loyal VC, World Bank
Nominis raises €340K / Spain, Curriculum Materials (English Language Learning) / Ship2B Ventures, First Drop, Aticco Ventures
Ellucian acquires Tribal Group / US (UK), School Software Infrastructure
Accelerate Learning acquires Kide Science / US (Finnland) / Curriculum Materials
Learnster acquires Kaspian / Sweden / Corporate LMS
3B Scientific acquires Wallcur / Germany, Simulations
CollegeDekho acquires ImaginXP / India, Student Recruitment
Dana Underwood joins Chegg as Chief Product Officer / via Yahoo Finance
Layoffs at the start of Q4:
US child poverty rate spikes from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022, after federal subsidies end. Now states are starting to step in with aid to try and bring the rate back down. / via Bloomberg
California continues to scale Transitional Kindergarten program. / via 74Million
North Carolina passes universal education savings accounts. / via 74Million
Stride gets in on the tutoring game. Historically, tutoring was a heavily localized activity, but national-scale tutoring platforms feel like the EdTech giants to have emerged from the COVID era. / via Marketscreener
Many districts racing against the clock to spend ARP funds. Further complicating efforts to understand how school spending (and startup sales cycles dependent on school spending). / via K12 Dive
Johns Hopkins’ new teacher apprenticeship program. Hopkins does not actually call it an apprenticeship, but it sure reads like one. It also sounds operationally expensive; I’d like to know whether Hopkins plans to run the program profitably or with subsidies. / via Johns Hopkins
The college backlash has gone too far. *Takes deep breath.* Agreed. I am happy to debate how much college should cost, what courses of study are highest impact, etc.. I am pro-alternative pathways for folks who, for whatever reason, can’t take a traditional college route. But a hill I am prepared to die on is that college is a good thing for most young people. / via The Atlantic
To put an even finer point on it, without a college degree, life in America is staggeringly short. Again, there is nuance here - generic “college” is not a panacea, but it does mean something. / via New York Times
In sum, I’m unconvinced by the “Americans are giving up on college” narrative (too dependent on what survey you use), but there are plenty of things about the current university model that can and should change. / via Chronicle of Higher Education
Southeast Technological University in Ireland to offer an “influencer” degree. This reminds me of an old joke that the worst musicians are the ones who made it all the way through a Music degree. / via Washington Post
Middle States to increase scrutiny of third-party contracts (including OPMs) for member institutions. Most of the third-party servicer (TPS) scrutiny we’ve seen this year has been at the federal level, from the Education Department. This is the most explicit call out of TPSs that I’ve seen from a regional accreditor. / via Higher Ed Dive
NCAA moves forward with new NIL proposals. These proposals seem mostly good; designed to protect and provide information transparency to student-athletes. But it leaves most of the larger issues surrounding college sports on the table. / via Higher Ed Dive
The flaw behind coding bootcamps’ attempt to disrupt higher ed. In short, it is really hard to build a high-price, consumer education business on a venture timeline. / via Forbes
Language learning app, Promova, adds custom typeface for dyslexic learners. This is the real power of digital learning materials and “personalized learning.” Rather than forcing dyslexic learners to adapt to the rest of the world or buying expensive custom materials, a small software update builds a world designed for dyslexic learners to thrive. / via Techcrunch
Before you get too excited though, Mark Zuckerberg tried to revolutionize American education with [personalized learning] technology. It didn’t go as planned. The headlines are/will be tough, but I give CZI credit for taking a big swing here. I’d be willing to bet that a Summit alumni has founded/will found a unicorn startup in the not-too-distant future based on this experience. / via Chalkbeat
AI for me, but not for thee. Teachers turn to oral exams to limit AI usage on essays. Teachers then use AI themselves to reduce grading time of said oral exams. There is something about this that doesn’t quite sit right, but I did like the concept of having a chatbot quiz student essay writers to make sure they understand what they actually wrote. / via EdSurge
Where are Byju’s FY22 financials? EdTech giant misses promised deadline. Stop me if you’ve heard this before… / via Inc42
Also, Great Learning founders in talks with investors to buy back the company from Byju’s. This is of more interest, as I expected a number of corporate upskilling players to be bargain-hunting here. / via Inc42
This email, EdTech Thoughts Weekend Reading, is the free sister publication of the EdTech Thoughts Weekly Update. It provides links to the week’s EdTech Funding, M&A, People moves, and a curated list of Links to relevant industry news. If you enjoyed this edition, I hope you will subscribe and/or forward to your friends!
As is hopefully clear from this newsletter, I spend a lot of my time reading. Often, this starts with articles about EdTech, but it usually also includes between 1 and 4 books.
Should you find yourself looking for a good book (both education and general interest), you can see many of my favorites here!
Also, if you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them!