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EdTech Companies Step Up And Make a Bold Impact on Education

Education is an investment in human capital that is essential in the new knowledge economy. Companies and governments around the world are searching for ways to enhance education. Such a case, thus, has led to the rise of EdTech companies.

The bold idea of ‘Educational Technology’ or EdTech is nothing new. The industry has been through some rough times since its inception, but with the current crisis in American education, there is renewed interest and investment. EdTech companies or startups are everywhere, with new and innovative ideas about how to improve public education and minimize cost. One success story in the EdTech companies’ industry is Pearson. It is one of the leading learning companies, having introduced its first EdTech accelerator program in February 2013.

The Telegraph from the U.K. mentioned that Pearson’s program links startups with business leaders and experts. The company gives instructions and mentoring to its clients throughout the program in order to develop best practices and improve educational outcomes. Diana Stepner, the Head of Future Technologies at Pearson, says, “The start-ups who are making changes in the industry are capitalizing on experience. A lot were students who are now applying their experience to a broader audience. The same applies to teachers; more than simply being consumers, they are learning about opportunities in digital technology and applying their expertise to the way that people learn.”

EdTech Companies’ Categories

Many companies are now venturing into the idea of EdTech. Following are some of the major categories of programs EdTech companies offer:

A chart of some of the EdTech companies and the categories they offer

  • Broad Online Learning – This category is for companies that focus on subjects like math, science, photography and music.
  • Learning Management Systems – These companies offer software platforms, that enhance the relationship between students, teachers, and parents. It also monitors the progress of the student, tracks assignments, shares content, and offers online discussion boards.
  • Career Development – Many Ed Tech companies provide people and enterprises with educational content for professional advancements, such as financial training.
  • Early Childhood Education – This is a huge group of companies that make educational toys and games for little children that can be used at the preschool or in the home.
  • Language Learning – Language programs are huge, and run the gamut from in-school programs to self-teaching for children and adults of every age.
  • Tech Learning – This may be one of the biggest categories for adults, with a huge number of private colleges and vocational programs that teach subjects like programming as well as updates in areas like security for professional development in the tech sector.
  • Study Tools – These have become something of a trend, with many high schools, colleges, and vocational schools offering courses that prepare their students and customers to succeed with their educational programs. The theory is that “learning how to learn” is important for everyone.Kids using laptops in a brightly lit classroom.
  • Course Materials – Many people outside the Ed Tech industry, don’t realize how important, or how large the revenues are, for those companies that provide classroom materials. Everything from Textbooks, to testing materials, adds up to a good-sized chunk of the educational pie.
  • School Administration – It takes materials to run and administer schools, and you bet, there are companies that fill that need, from proctored exam services to digitized transcripts.
  • Next-Gen School – These are the innovators who are looking for completely new educational systems, like schools that teach through games or other non-traditional systems.
  • Learning Analytics – Big data is king, and with something as large and unwieldy as the worldwide education systems, this is a growth category that is only going to get bigger every year.
  • Test Prep – Parents love them, students not so much. Test prep companies prepare students for the standardized tests and entrance examinations that students face, including tests like the GRE, GMAT, and SAT; as well as professional tests like the CPA, Series 7, and the Bar.
  • Classroom Engagement – A lot of focus is being directed toward classroom engagement and products and systems that can help with this all-important area of teaching.
  • Online to Offline – This may sound backward, after all, what is the purpose of online education in the first place, if you need a face-to-face mentor or tutor to help you through. The truth is, having someone there for personal face-time dramatically enhances the online educational experience. This category is for companies that offer platforms for students in order to have face-to-face offline tutoring.

EdTech Companies

With the continuous rise of EdTech startups, we have compiled a list of some of the top EdTech Startup Companies. Following are some that have attracted the most attention:

  • EverFi – Provides extensive skills in STEM, financial literacy, workplace harassment training, and diversity training. Tom Davidson is the CEO and co-founder of EverFi. The company is located in the United States. Evan Williams, Eric Schmidt, Jeff Bezos, Silicon Valley Bank, and New Enterprise Associates are among its investors. The company has funding of $251 million. It is in the Broad Online Learning image of a child looking at books amid the rise of EdTech companies
  • Pluralsight – provides video training courses for creative professionals, IT administrators, and software developers. Aaron Skonnard is the CEO of Pluralsight. It is located in Utah, United States. ICONIQ Capital, Rethink Education, and Insight Venture Partners is the primary investors. It has funding of $238.67 million. Pluralsight is in the Career Development category.
  • Top Hat – helps professors energize college classrooms. It renews established teaching methods and organizes new approaches. Mike Silagadze is the CEO of Top Hat. The company is located in Toronto. Union Square Ventures, Golden Angels Network, Felicis Ventures, and DeVry Education Group are all investors. It has funding of $49.99 million. It is in the Classroom Engagement category.
  • Flat World Education – is an online platform that gives institutions and instructors the chance to personalize their educational content. Jade Roth is the CEO of Flat World Education. Primary Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Tribeca Venture Partners are the primary investors in the company. It has funding of $43.5 million. It is in the Course Materials category.
  • NeoBear – markets augmented reality mobile apps and toys that help children to learn languages and words. Jian Ming Xiong is the CEO of NeoBear. New Horizon Capital, GGV Capital, Qualcomm Ventures, and Haitong Kaiyuan are the investors in the company. The company has funding of $56 million. It is in the Early Childhood Education category.
  • iTutorGroup – is the biggest English-language learning company in the world. It offers personalized and individualized learning experiences. The company is located in Shanghai. Dr. Eric Yang is the CEO of the company. Goldman Sachs, Alibaba Group, Russia-China Investment Fund, and Qiming Venture Partners are investors. It has funding of $315 million. iTutorGroup is in the Language Learning category.
  • Echo360 – develops active education technology. It is located in Dulles Virginia. Fred Singer is the CEO of Echo360. Court Square Ventures, Anthem Capital, and Softbank Capital are investors. It has funding of $91.82 million. The company is in the Learning Analytics category.
  • Knewton – focuses on adaptive learning. Knewton created a platform to personalize educational content. The company is located in New York. Ryan Prich is the CEO of Knewton. First Round Capital, GSV Capital, and Accel Partners are just some of its investors. It has funding of $157.25 million. Knewton is in the Learning Management System category.a photo of engineering students receiving training from a senior engineer amid the rise of EdTech companies
  • AltSchool – is an educational startup founded in 2004. The company is made up of educators, entrepreneurs, and technologies which have developed a network of schools to prepare students. It is located in San Francisco. Max Ventilla is the CEO of AltSchool. First Round Capital, Learn Capital, and Mark Zuckerberg are the investors. AltSchool has funding of $176 million. It is in the Next-Gen School category.
  • Entstudy – is an after-school tutoring platform in China. Zhang Hao is the CEO of Entstudy. Tencent Holdings, Kun Ling Capital, and Sharing Capital are its investors. The company has funding of $62.21 million. It is in the Online to Offline category.
  • Parchment – lets employers, educators, and learners, request, share and verify credentials using an advanced academic management system. The company is located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Matthew Pittinsky is the CEO of Parchment. Novak Biddle Venture Partners and Salmon River Capital are just some of its investors. The company has funding of $71.55 million. It is in the School Administration category.
  • Xuebajun – helps high school and junior high school students master their classwork through a system of personalized monitoring and reporting. Yuan Pu is the CEO of the company. Sinovation Ventures, Qiming Venture Partners, and Vertex Ventures China are the investors of Xuebajun. It has funding of $155 million. The company is in the Study Tool category.
  • Galvanize – helps entrepreneurs and students access the knowledge and skills they need in order to level up and create an impact. Jim Deters is the CEO of Galvanize. University Ventures, New York State Regional Economic Development Councils, and IBM are all investors. It has funding of $87.11 million. Galvanize is in the Tech Learning category.
  • Xiaozhan Jiaoyu – offers training courses for students preparing for entrance exams. It is located in Shanghai. Hanchen Chen is the CEO of the company. Sequoia Capital China, GGV Capital, and Shunwei Capital Partners are its investors. Xiaozhan Jiaoyu has funding of $113 million. It is in the Test Prep category.

Other EdTech Companies to Watch by Category Are:

  • Broad Online Learning – HotChalk, Yuanfudao, Coursera, Udemy, BYJU’s, Udacity, Xingshuai Teach, MasterClass, creativeLIVE, Genshuixue, Brainly, Skillshare, Coorpacademy, and Descomplica
  • Career Development – General Assembly, Grovo Learning, Fullbridge, Simplilearn Solutions, Axonify, OpenSesame, BloomBoard, and EduPristine
  • Classroom Engagement – Nearpod
  • Course Materials – LightSail Education, Newsela, BetterLesson, and XanEdu Publishing
  • Early Childhood Education – DreamBox Learning, Knowledge Holdings, Osmo, Speakaboos, Fingerprint Digital, Kidaptive, GoNoodle, TinyBop, and Kaishu Jianggushi
  • Language Learning – Vipkid, Duolingo, Babbel, Voxy, ABA English, ABC360, Ellevation Education, and Busuu Online
  • Learning Analytics – Civitas Leanring, BrightBytes, Acrobatiq, and Panorama Education
  • Learning Management System – 17zuoye, Schoology, Everspring, Huivo, Degreed, MasteryConnect, ClassDojo, Smart Sparrow, Knowledge Factor, EdCast, and FreshGrade
  • Next-Gen School – Quad Learning, Bridge International Academies, CueLearn, and KnowRe
  • Online to Offline – Varsity Tutors
  • School Administration – LearnZillion, Examity, Certica Solutions, and Brightwheel
  • Study Tool – Grammarly, Knowbox, StudyBlue, Kahoot!, and Quizlet
  • Tech Learning – littleBits, Codecademy, Edgemakers, CodeFights, Treehouse Island, and Tynker
  • Test Prep – Revolution Prep and Toppr

The number of EdTech companies shows that the quality of education is indeed on its way up.

IBM Work From Home Policy Reversal?

IBM’s plan to call its workers back to the office has created a lot of buzz. After all, IBM was an early adapter to the idea of remote work environments. The company isn’t issuing press releases titled “whoops, that wasn’t such a good idea” or “why office spaces were invented in the first place” which leaves workers and bystanders alike wondering what the big reasons are behind IBM’s about face.

In-person interaction gives people the time to build social connections that make it easier to collaborate remotely and create that level of trust.

This is a decision which will have huge impacts on IBM’s worldwide workforce. Last month, IBM gave many of their remote-work employees in the United States an option to come and work in their regional offices or resign from the company. The sudden change to the company’s long-standing policy is impacting individuals, families, and supply chains across the country.

Employees in affected divisions have been provided 30 days to decide if they want to return to the office. Those who do not want to move back were also given 90 days to look for another role within IBM.

Why Did IBM Work From Home Policy Got Reversed?

It is expected that a significant, although not large, percentage of workers will simply abandon their positions rather than uprooting and relocating at IBM’s whim. Some have even suggested that this is actually a cynical attempt by IBM to offload personnel without having to perform expensive lay-offs.

The change in IBMs policy is so surprising because remote work was often held out as a more efficient means to run an organization, and a critical factor in employee satisfaction, recruitment, and retention.

IBM has welcomed remote work for decades. A big proportion of employees works outside of central hubs.

A yes or no depiction, with a woman working at her desk.

Suddenly without advance notice or any apparent discussion, the company decided to co-locate the US marketing department, design department, procurement department, and IT department, meaning all teams will have to work together from six different locations – Atlanta, Austin, Raleigh, San Francisco, New York, and Boston.

According to Fox Business, the move is going to accelerate the pace and enhance collaboration of work.

A statement from the company said that “In many fields, such as software development and digital marketing, the nature of work is changing, which requires new ways of working. We are bringing small, self-directed agile teams in these fields together.”

The newest census data available has revealed that from the year 2005 to 2012, the telecommuting workforce of America rose by about 80%. Nicholas Bloom, an Economics Professor at Stanford University, found that the at-home workers, didn’t just measure up to the on-site employees, they also handily outperformed them.

Face Time Fosters Innovation

On the other hand, the Hartford claims that proximity fosters innovation. The culture of In-office workers is as important as the work itself. Kate Lister, the President of Global Workforce Analytics, stated that “If a team does not know each other that well, it is far better to work face to face. In-person interaction gives people the time to build social connections that make it easier to collaborate remotely and create that level of trust to be effective when they’re not in the same room.”

Perhaps it is this type of research that has made IBM, after all a company whose very mission is innovation, to return to a model of more traditional office and research environments.

It was not long ago that IBM bragged that more than 40% of employees did their jobs outside the traditional company offices, stating on its Smarter Workforce blog that “telework works.”

IBM is not the only company that has called back its workers from remote work structures. Four years ago, Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, created a huge controversy when she altered the rules to bring work-at-home employees back to the office. Best Buy and Reddit also formally co-located their teams because working together has benefits that are tangible, even if difficult to quantify.

Reports suggest that most of the employees who have been asked to go back to the office by IBM have agreed to do so.

The change that was made to IBM’s policy affects a lot of its employees. But because IBM is a leader in American business, their policy shift is likely to have knock-on implications through the workforce. There may be a big change and a move away from remote work environments, to the more traditional office that facilitates team building and face time.


Rules of the Sky for Drones

Drone use is growing at a breakneck speed, for both commercial and recreational purposes. As this very young industry grows, rules of the road need to be established. The industry is hard at work creating workable guidelines that guarantee safety and privacy to citizens, but also allow drones to be developed and used to their full potential.

All of this ongoing change and adaptation further complicates the challenge of regulations and guidelines for the FAA.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates all aspects of civil aviation, is cooperating with Brian Krzanich, the CEO of Intel, to try and generate the rules of the sky. The FAA has formed the Drone Advisory Committee and asked Krzanich to lead the program.

RTCA has stated that the Drone Advisory Committee is going to provide an open venue for the FAA and key decision makers, supporting the safe introduction of Unmanned Aircraft Systems into the National Airspace System.

The idea of the committee is to establish seven test sites in order to explore drone flight management. NASA is backing the quest together with its unmanned aircraft traffic management research program. In addition, NASA is working with the FAA to ensure that their own work with UAS integration is progressing.

Michael Huerta, the Chief of the FAA, said that “Our challenge is to find the right balance where safety and innovation co-exist on relatively equal planes.”

Rules and regulations for flying drones are still being discussed but the FAA has created these safety measures to provide a workable framework for UAS in the meantime:

  • Fly at or below 400 feet.
  • Keep your UAS within sight.
  • Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports.
  • Never fly over groups of people.
  • Never fly over stadiums or sports events.
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires.
  • Never fly under the influence.
  • Be aware of airspace requirements.

Drones Skyways are the Future

A graph explaining the zones where drones can fly.

Drones are already being deployed in a complex and incredibly varied set of industries for all types of purposes. Drones are already being used to save lives, especially during natural and manmade disasters. Drones are deployed in support law enforcement, especially for search and rescue as well as tracking suspects. And drones help provide safe infrastructure maintenance and management. They offer academic and media access to hard-to-reach areas. Drones also streamline agriculture management.

In Australia, drone mapping in agriculture is becoming standard practice. ABC News mentioned that start-up businesses are using drones to assess crop health through infrared mapping.

According to Mark Barker, the Director of Business Development and Marketing at the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, “There are many applications that will benefit from drone use.”

All of this ongoing change and adaptation further complicates the challenge of regulations and guidelines for the FAA. By the time the FAA responds to one set of problems and barriers, another set has already presented itself, as the drone industry is simply growing and innovating by leaps and bounds.

BVLOS, The Key to Drone Productivity

The biggest thing for this year with drones is the creation of three U.S. test sites for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). BVLOS is something that the FAA is looking at in order to govern the regulation that makes sense for the whole drone industry.

If beyond-visual-line-of-sight flying becomes valid, many within the drone industry predict a huge amount of activity as new business models can arise to use drones to their full potential.

There are different tests that are going to happen in order to ensure that flying a drone is both reliable and safe. The tests must be managed in a safe but realistic place to guarantee officials that whatever results are acquired within the test sites can be predictably and safely applied to real flying environments.

Three U.S. test sites for BVLOS:

  1. North Dakota – Northern Plains UAS Test Site in North Dakota is the first in the United States to have BVLOS operability. Companies like General Atomics, Northrop Grumman and future tenants at the Grand Sky Technology Park will be able to evaluate and test the complex UAS operations.
  2. Virginia – The test site in Virginia was created by Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, Aerovironment, Dominion Virginia Power, and Ligado Networks. The companies have evaluated communications strategies and other parameters in order to create a case for BVLOS drone flights.
  3. Texas – The BNSF Railway and Rockwell Collins are testing how UAS perform in long linear BVLOS settings. BNSF is able to utilize their right of way and monitor long flights through the use of their railroad tracks that branch our from Fort Worth, Texas and beyond the state lines.

These testing grounds are all-important, because in order for drones to reach their full potential they need BVLOS approval and rules. The FAA and the drone community are working together to establish those rules, and to create the data and safety standards to make drones a realistic business alternative for both industry and entertainment.


Collegiate Entrepreneurs Lead the Way In Building Successful Businesses

Over the past 50 years, a surprising number of successful companies have been created by collegiate entrepreneurs who have yet to graduate. By combining creativity and determination and taking advantage of the resources available to them while in school, bold innovators have managed to scratch an itch consumers may not have known they had. In the process, these young collegiate entrepreneurs have made their fortunes.

We look back to the 1970s because two successful companies founded in that decade are still in operation today. One, in particular, has changed the world as we know it. Started in 1975 by Paul Allen and Bill Gates (Harvard University), Microsoft started simply with the objective of developing and selling BASIC interpreters for the Altair 8800—the first commercially successful personal computer. Since then, through innovation and strategic acquisition, Microsoft has grown to become a multinational technology company that develops, licenses, manufactures, supports and sells computer software, personal computers, consumer electronics, and other services. And Bill Gates has become the second richest man in the world with a net worth of $81.3 Billion.

Also, the 1970s saw the startup of Kinkos by Paul Orfalea (University of California at Santa Barbara). Copy machines were new technology; Orfalea, as one of true collegiate entrepreneurs, had the bold idea to make this technology available to the masses. He borrowed money to buy a copy machine and rent a 100-square foot space near his college campus. From a small beginning, entrepreneurial history and his fortune were made.

Collegiate Entrepreneurs and Their Bold Businesses

The 1980s gave us the founding of Dell Computers by Michael Dell (University of Texas at Austin). Dell’s innovative contribution was selling personal computers directly to consumers. In addition, piggy-backing on and contributing to personal computing popularity, the advent of public access to the internet in the mid-1990s accelerated college student startup success. Included among a number of Internet-based services founded in the 1990s were the competing search engines Yahoo!—founded by Jerry Yang and David Flow in 1994—and Google—founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Stanford University).

a photo containing information about businesses riding the internet wave amid the rise of collegiate entrepreneurs

Riding the internet wave, business startups have boomed exponentially in the 21st century. Collegiate entrepreneurs have provided us with convenient services, some of which we would consider essential, including; Facebook, Dropbox, Reddit, WordPress, Snapchat, Hourlynerd and Envoynow.

Scott Gerber, the co-founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, provides the following tips for collegiate entrepreneurs aspiring to create successful businesses. Take advantage of university resources—get involved in programs where you can learn how to and can actively run a business; find out about funding sources or opportunities available throughout your stay in college; test your product on students on campus to get feedback; and find a mentor to learn from and bounce ideas off of. Undoubtedly, Gerber’s advice is practical for aspiring entrepreneurs of any age—especially collegiate entrepreneurs—and it can lead to bold business triumph.