This week we saw Apollo Education’s entry into Africa through its acquisition of Milpark Education. Queen Rania Foundation and edX launched Edraak, the first MOOC platform in the Arab speaking world. With Curiosityville Houghton Mifflin Harcourt acquired its second startup within a week. Teachers pay Teachers raised venture capital from three well established funds and eduCanon managed to win two edu competitions which got them $115k in prize money.
All this and more on this week’s Ed News Ticker.
Empirical, a non-profit with the mission to make students active players in their education, received a $200k grant from the Gates Foundation to further develop Quill, a platform for interactive writing activities aligned with Common Core.
Empirical’s goal is to advance learning from a passive, multiple choice method of education, to an interactive, engaging, and personalized method of education by presenting students with problems to solve and by allowing them to construct solutions.
Pearson Affordable Learning Fund announced two minority equity investments in low-cost private schools, eAdvance in South Africa and Zaya Labs in India.
SPARK is the first primary private school network in Africa that follows a blended learning approach, offering brick and mortar classrooms as well as online teaching.
Zaya Labs created a “Lab Kit” that enables schools in low-income settings to easily setup blended learning environments in which the students divide their time between learning sessions on a tablet device, with the teacher and group learning activities.
eduCanon, a Washington-based edtech startup that provides teachers with a platform to turn videos into interactive lessons, won the first price in the education category at the 1776’s Challenge Cup, taking home $100k.
It was a good week for Benjamin Levy and his team as the startup also won the $15k MacGraw-Hill Education prize at the Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition.
Teachers Pay Teachers, the lesson marketplace where educators can upload their materials and sell these lesson plans to other teachers, has raised an undisclosed amount of Venture Funding from Spectrum Equity, Tiger Global and True Ventures.
Teachers pay Teachers was launched in 2006 in New York City by former teacher Paul Edelman and has more than 3 million registered users to date, up 1 million in the past 12 months.
Deanna Jump, the highest selling teacher, has sold lesson plans worth more than $2 million. The next four highest-earning teachers have sold materials for more than $500,000, 64 teachers has earned six figures and 384 educators more than $20,000.
London-based Third Space Learning, formerly KnowMaths, raised a £750k Angel Round with support from ClearlySo, an agency that connects social entrepreneurs with investors.
Founded in 2013 by Tom Hooper, Third Space Learning uses virtual classrooms to connect disadvantaged students with maths experts from around the world for personalised 1:1 tutoring sessions.
Mergers & Acquisitions
UK-based Learning Technologies Group plc (LTG), parent company of Epic, announced the acquisition of Preloaded for approximately £2.2 million. The acquisition is part of LTG’s “buy and build” strategy to create a global e-learning leader with in excess of £50m of revenue.
Founded in 2000, Preloaded sees itself as an applied games studio with the aim of making games that improve people’s lives by helping them better understand the world around them.
The company works together with organisations across the education, entertainment, publishing, advertising and broadcasting sectors including the BBC, Channel 4, Disney and Amplify and has won a BAFTA award for its work.
Curiosityville, a personalized online learning platform for children ages 3-8, has been acquired by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Curiosityville will become a core element of HMH’s early childhood education offering, an area of strong growth for the company.
Founded in 2010 and officially launched in August 2012 by Susan Magsamen, Curiosityville offers games and activities that aim to lay a strong foundation for core learning areas such as creative expression, problem solving, collaboration, and other critical cognitive and academic skills for school and for life.
Milpark Education acquired by Apollo Group
Apollo Global, a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, acquired an 81% consolidated interest in South African private tertiary education provider Milpark Education for around $25.6 million, marking the entrance of Apollo Education Group in Africa.
Founded in 1997, Milpark Education was one of the first providers of higher management education in South Africa. Today the company is active in higher education, further education and other professional training verticals.
Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan officially launched Edraak, the first non-profit MOOC platform for the Arab speaking world. Edraak is powered by Open edX. The project was announced by edX and the Queen Rania Foundation in November 2013.
Through Edraak the Queen Rania Foundation aims to bring free quality education to Arab students. Available on the platform will be localized versions of MOOCs from foreign universities but also locally produced courses by leading Arab faculty members and well-known professionals in a variety of fields.
Chegg announced its latest feature called Chegg Career Center, an online resource site for students to plan and build their careers while still being in school or after graduation.
Users will be able to explore internships and career options as well as advice from working professionals. In a next step Chegg plans to add a skills marketplace where students can purchase courses that focus on the skills that are required in the knowledge economy.
Adaptive learning platform Knewton announced a partnership with the Norwegian publisher Gyldendal. Gyldendal will use the Knewton API to create adaptive learning products for math students grades 1-7.
Founded in 1925, Gyldendal is Norway’s largest educational publisher. The company will use the Knewton API to create Smart Øving Powered by Knewton.
Students who are enrolled in one of the graduate programs offered by 2U’s partner universities and colleges can now enroll in select courses from other 2U-enabled programs the company announced on Thursday at the first 2U Symposium in Santa Monica.
At launch nine 2U partner programs take part in the cross-university enrollment initiative, offering more than 50 courses. The aim is to allow students to expand their studies to areas that may not be offered within their own graduate program.
Microsoft Thailand and the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to give 8 million students and 400,000 teachers across the nation free access to Microsoft Office 365 for education over the next five years which makes it the biggest cloud service partnership for Microsoft in education.
This new partnership is part of a bigger initiative called Partners in Learning which aims to foster innovative use of technology in education to help students and teachers around the world maximize their potential and was established by Microsoft in 2003.
Picture “Self Portrait” by Carsten Schertzer