Showing posts tagged education

The Story Behind Qualtrics, The Next Great Enterprise Company.

#SuryaRay #Surya Editor’s note: Derek Andersen is the founder of Startup Grind, a 35-city event series hosted in 15-countries that educates, inspires, and connects entrepreneurs. He also founded Commonred and is ex-Electronic Arts. I met Ryan Smith about nine years ago in a college apartment in Provo Utah. We were both attending school, and after asking him what he was working on he replied, “I’m building an online research company with my dad called Qualtrics.” Nine years later Qualtrics has 5,000 customers, $70MM in funding, and turned down a $500MM acquisition offer last year in a bold attempt to build a billion dollar company. Qualtrics was well described last year when Sequoia Capital partner Bryan Schreier called them the “largest software company you haven’t heard of yet.” That is changing quickly. If you don’t know, Qualtrics was created by Ryan and has dad as a way to help schools and companies gather feedback and data on students/customers through surveys. They have 5,000 customers including FedEx, Hewlett-Packard, JetBlue, Microsoft, PepsiCo and Zappos. The company was started by Ryan and his dad. I recently interviewed Ryan at Startup Grind Utah and learned how it all happened. In the summer of 2001 while doing an internship at Hewlett-Packard, Ryan’s dad Scott called him and said he had throat cancer and would begin treatment immediately  so Ryan returned home and took a semester off school. While at home he found that his dad, who Ryan describes as a “super early adaptor,” had built the technology that was the beginning of Qualtrics. Each day after Scott returned from chemotherapy they would work on the product. By the time Scott had returned to full strength, Ryan had signed up 20 customers and they had hired a small team to build out the product. The first customers were in academia. Ryan realized that he could easily find key decision makers’ contact information online, and since it worked for one it seemed only natural that it would work for others.  The first customer was a professor at the Kellogg School of Management. Ten years later the first ten Qualtrics customes are still customers. All of this was literally happening from Ryan’s parents’ basement in Provo Utah in 2002 and 2003. Ryan’s first big hire was a friend that he convinced to turn down a $60,000 job to make $8,000 at Qualtrics. Don’t worry – after over delivering he made $12,000 the next year. By 2004 they had 20-people and there were so many cars on their street that neighbors @suryaray

iTunes U crosses 1 billion downloads—have you used it?

#SuryaRay #Surya 2,500 public courses are available, so we’re curious about Ars’ study habits. @suryaray

Apple’s iTunes U hits the 1B download mark

#SuryaRay #Surya Apple’s iTunes U education initiative hit 1 billion cumulative downloads, the company announced Thursday. The service, which provides free access to lectures, videos, and course materials to teachers and educational groups, has been around since 2007. But it got a boost a year ago when Apple introduced a dedicated iTunes U app to go along with its iPad-oriented educational initiative, which included an iBooks authoring tool that would help textbook companies and educators create learning material.

Compared to some of Apple’s other software, 1 billion downloads in nearly six years seems small. (The iOS App Store hit 40 billion downloads this year, less than five years in.) But the service is picking up steam. Apple released some other numbers as well that illustrate the size and scope of iTunes U:

* More than 1,200 colleges are using iTunes U
* 1,200 K-12 “schools and districts” are using it
* There are 2,500 public courses in use and “thousands” of private courses
* Some courses have more than 250,000 enrolled in them

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
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* Forecast: Tablet App Sales To Hit $8B by 2015
* How consumer media will change in 2013
* The state of cross-platform media measurement @suryaray

73% of Teachers Use Cellphones for Classroom Activities

#SuryaRay #Surya

More middle- and secondary-school teachers are using digital tools in their classrooms and professional lives, a new report says. A study by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project released Thursday delves into teachers’ increasing technology use, but also expresses educators’ concerns about the digital divide.

The study surveyed Advance Placement and National Writing Project teachers across the United States, and 92% say the Internet has a “major impact” on their ability to access content, resources and materials for teaching. Teachers are becoming advanced tech users, according to Kristen Purcell, Pew’s associate director for research.

"The findings bode well for p…
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More About: education, Lifestyle, Pew, teachers, technology @suryaray

With $2M In The Bank, Kickboard Is On A Mission To Help Teachers Unlock Student Data

#SuryaRay #Surya Kickboard, a New Orleans-based startup that aims to help teachers and schools better capture, analyze and share student performance data, announced today that it has secured $2 million in series A financing. The round was led by New Markets Venture Partners and included contributions from Two Sigma Ventures and a handful of angel investors. Having $800K in seed and angel rounds to date, Kickboard’s series A brings its total capital raised to $2.8 million. @suryaray

Six Weeks From Launch, “Mint For Student Loans” Contender Hits $250M Under Management, Lands $1M In Seed

#SuryaRay #Surya Currently, outstanding national student loan debt is over $1 trillion, $864 billion of which is backed by ye olde federal government. According to the Center for American Progress, the majority of those loans have an interest rate higher than six percent — generally speaking, twice the average mortgage rate and is thrice the rate at which the government borrows. In the American education system, student debt is the 8,000-pound elephant in the room. @suryaray

Computer Science Education Had A Good Day In America

#SuryaRay #Surya America’s elite institutions came out in full force for computer science education. First, the House of Representatives voted to update its traditional students arts competition to include a nationwide mobile apps competition. Then, to top off the day, the nation’s leading geeks, from Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates, helped launch a national nonprofit to encourage young programmers. @suryaray

Pearson Launches EdTech Incubator for Startups

#SuryaRay #Surya

Publishing giant Pearson launched an incubator program for edtech startups, following in the footsteps of other educational companies like Kaplan.

Pearson Catalyst, the new program, will match educational startups with Pearson brands and resources. The company’s vast amount of content will be available to participants who can further develop their products to target and personalize online learning.

Sharing industry insight and connecting with new companies will allow Pearson to promote learning and take advantage of new ideas, says Diana Stepner, head of future technologies.

"We realized the world of education has changed," Stepner tells _Mashable_. "People have new approaches to l…
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More About: Business, education, Lifestyle, startup incubators, Startups @suryaray

Backed By $1M From Peter Thiel & More, Thinkful Is On A Mission To Reinvent Career Training

#SuryaRay #Surya Ask any startup founder, and they’ll tell you that engineering talent is in high demand, but the problem is that good talent is hard to come by. What’s more, we have a computer science education deficit in the U.S. Today, computer science is absent in 95 percent of high schools. Luckily, a gaggle of startups and websites, like Treehouse,, Code School, Khan Academy, LearnStreet and more will now teach you the basics of some of the world’s most pervasive programming languages. While these startups are collectively doing wonders for the democratization of computer science education, the founders behind Thinkful believe that the current options lack the kind of support that students need to learn effectively. Launched last year by Darrell Silver and Dan Friedman (who was one of the first to receive a 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship), Thinkful aims to help anyone and everyone learn skills that let them advance in their career or start a new one, while giving them the support (and teacher interaction) they need to get there through one-on-one training. @suryaray

The Weekly Good: Embrace Wants To Give All Infants An Equal Chance For A Healthy Life

#SuryaRay #Surya Disruption comes in all shapes and sizes, and benefits people of all shapes and sizes. When you think about global entrepreneurs solving hard problems, you might not think about creating hardware products that aim to save the lives of premature babies. @suryaray

With $2M From Zynga Co-founder & More, Sokikom Wants To Use Social, MMO Gaming To Help Kids Learn Math

#SuryaRay #Surya Sokikom, a new startup that wants to help K-12 teachers motivate students to learn using games, is announcing today that it has raised $2 million in seed funding, half of which comes in the form of a grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (a research branch within the U.S. Department of Education) and the other half comes in the form of angel funding from former Intel Chairman and CEO Dr. Craig Barrett and Zynga co-founder Steve Schoettler, among others. @suryaray

Study: Online Courses May Be The Worst For Minorities And At-Risk Students

#SuryaRay #Surya Online college courses are replacing traditional classrooms at a crazy-fast pace, yet it is still unknown whether they are actually better for students. A new large-scale study of 40,000 community and technical college students finds that, compared to traditional courses, students in online courses receive worse grades and are more likely to drop out. The negative impact of online study is disturbingly pronounced for minorities and students already at risk of dropping out. “Overall, the online format had a significantly negative relationship with both course persistence and course grade, indicating that the typical student had difficulty adapting to online courses,” writes Di Xu and Shanna Smith Jaggars of Columbia University. “Specifically, we found that males, black students, and students with lower levels of academic preparation experienced significantly stronger negative coefficients for online learning compared with their counterparts, in terms of both course persistence and course grades.” The research team controlled for an impressive array of student characteristics, class types and demographics, and found a negative impact across most of their variables. Interestingly, they also looked at courses where more than 75 percent of the students were at risk, and found that the presence of at-risk peers made drop out all the more likely. The impact, or “effect size” as it’s called in statistics, was very large. Taking a course online correlated with a grade drop of between 0.15-0.4 on average out of a 4.0 scale. The study, however, should be taken in context. As I’ve written before, large-scale research by the department of education finds that online education is often better than traditional face-to-face instruction. Moreover, the online courses evaluated in Xu and Jaggars’ research don’t have the world’s best instructors. One pilot found that replacing a traditional course with an online course taught by a Nobel Prize winner nearly doubled test scores. We don’t yet know how massively open online courses (MOOCs) will affect students as they scale to the wider population. This new study from Columbia is an important part (but only a part) of the ongoing national experiment. @suryaray

Rock Health Launches Its Fourth Batch Of Startups, As Total Funding For Grads Hits $43M, $900K Each

#SuryaRay #Surya After five months of testing, iterating, spit balling and pavement pounding, today Rock Health’s fourth class of HealthTech startups took the stage at Demo Day to pitch their fledgling businesses to investors. More than anything, these fourteen startups confirmed that digital health is not just alive and well, but beginning to gain some real traction. (More on that here.) Like education, the healthcare industry is in the early stages of a massive sea change, and Rock Health’s startups collectively addressed some major pain points for the industry — from leveraging better coordination and patient engagement to lower the costs and simplify the tangled mess of health insurance, to incentivizing healthy behavior and improving secondary care. @suryaray

With $1.1M In The Bank, Graduway Launches To Help Schools Reinvent Alumni Networking

#SuryaRay #Surya Graduway, a startup that wants to help colleges and universities more effectively engage with their alumni, is officially launching today with $1.1 million in seed funding from BTG Pactual (Latin America’s largest investment bank), former 888 Holdings CEO Gigi Levy and RSL Venture Partners, which has recently invested in Vengo and OneSpot. @suryaray

Coursera Adds 29 Schools, 90 Courses And 4 New Languages To Its Online Learning Platform

#SuryaRay #Surya It’s almost as if there’s an arms race in online education. Which MOOC platform can expand the fastest? Place your bets now. On the heels of edX’s announcement that it will be expanding internationally with the addition of six new schools (bringing its total to 12), Coursera is doing some addition of its own. Today, the massive online course platform announced that 29 universities from around the globe have agreed to bring their courses online (for free) via Coursera. The new members will join the 33 institutions already on board, bringing Coursera’s grand total to 62. And, of course, just as edX was kicking back to celebrate its five new handpicked international members, Coursera announces that its updated roster just so happens to include 16 international institutions itself. The international expansion of both Coursera and edX is a big win for international students, who (at least in Coursera’s case) now have access to courses in multiple languages, including French, Spanish, Chinese and Italian. Of course, international expansion is also an important part of the roadmap for edX and Coursera (and online learning sites like as well) and could be a boon for both, exposing a whole new audience of potential MOOC adopters to courses from some of the most reputed schools in the world. While edX is a not-for-profit organization, Coursera is decidedly for-profit and, though it has plenty of venture capital in the bank, will need to continue scaling if it hopes to become a sustainable business over the long-term. To do that, as part of the introduction of 29 new schools to its platform, Coursera is also expanding its course offerings by subject, adding 90 new courses to bring its total to 313 courses in all. “With the addition of so many new courses across a wide range of disciplines, languages and academic approaches, we are now able to meet the needs of a more diverse student body, and give students more academic options to explore,” Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng said as part of the announcement. Since launching in April 2012, Coursera has registered 2.8 million students and is now seeing around 1.4 million course enrollments each month. Lately, Coursera has been taking some pronounced steps to begin monetizing its growing user base as well, launching Career Services in December — an opt-in recruiting program that matches students with employers — and adding Verified Certificates in January @suryaray