EDUKWEST Monday Ristretto

Monday Ristretto: MOOC Managers, Indian EdTech and European Initiatives

To get you up to speed for the week ahead, we will serve you a Monday Ristretto here on EDUKWEST from now on. We pick the most important reads from the past week, put them in a grinder and extract the essential information in a short and punchy brew.

Today we’ve got three shots for you. It’s all about MOOC management, investments in Indian edtech startups and European edtech initiatives.

Management shakeup at Coursera and edX

Last week two of the big US players in the MOOC space (coincidentally?) announced changes in their top management structure. The interesting thing here is the choice of people. Coursera chose Richard C. Levin, former longtime president of Yale while edX picked Wendy Cebula, former COO of Vistaprint.

This shows that Coursera’s strategy is still all about scale and not so much about generating revenue which is pretty typical for a venture backed startup these days. Levin brings strong contacts to China with him which is of course one of the major markets any startup in education wants to succeed in.

edX on the other hand needs to start thinking about reaching a level where it can sustain itself. Sure, there is always the possibility of receiving grants or donations but in order to build a lasting venture edX needs to generate revenue on its own. But to us it is hard to see the correlation between on demand printing and higher education.

Investments in Indian EdTech

Indian edtech startups are (still) on the rise. Last week we covered three investments, those in SkyFi Labs, Everest Edusys and GradeStack. Compared to the European or even US rounds, Indian investors are not closefisted, either.

GradeStack for example received about $160k in return for 10% equity while being in the TLabs incubator program. For comparison, Australian startups that want to participate in the newly launched Canberra-based GRIFFIN Accelerator only get $23k and need to give up the same equity while TechStars invests $118k in return for 6% equity.

European EdTech Fuss

Every now and then Europe awakes, noticing that they are behind the curve and need to do something. In this case the European Commission came to the conclusion that in six years from now 90% of all the jobs will need workers with at least some IT skills. Therefore, all tech entrepreneurs, universities and MOOC providers are called to action under the Startup Europe banner to help identify and fill the skills gap. Not going to happen.

Outside of the holy halls of Brussels real world initiatives like the EdTech Europe conference which partnered with SXSWedu or the Versari Hub in Dublin show that instead of reinventing the wheel time after time again with the same players, the European Commission should take a look at the realities and talk to the folks in the trenches.

Picture by Jonno Sea via Flickr

Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at