Editor’s Note: This post has first been published on edcetera – straight talk on edtech.
After covering the two new MOOC players in the European market, let’s switch continents and go to Brazil, where Veduca is taking up steam in its mission to conquer the LatAm education market.
Founded in 2011 Veduca started by subtitling video lectures from leading universities which were freely available as part of the OpenCourseWare movement. The idea was to give Brazilians access to lectures in English as only 2% of those learners understand English well enough to make use of those videos according to Carlos Souza, one of the founders of Veduca.
After initially bootstrapping their startup and showing quick user growth, the team was able to raise their first $750k seed round led by Mountain do Brazil (now Bolt Ventures) with the participation of 500 Startups and Macmillan Digital Education. This week Veduca raised a $500k follow-up round from the same investors.
While the funding is only a tiny fraction of what we have seen in the rounds of Coursera, edX, and Udacity, Veduca managed to grow its offering to over 5,700 video lectures from 17 universities, four of them from Brazil. And here it gets really interesting.
In June Veduca and the University of Sao Paulo announced a partnership through which students who take the two MOOCs offered receive a certificate after successfully completing them. USP also made clear that the content of the MOOCs is the same as in the classic classes and that students who take the online version are evaluated with the same rigor.
Taking this a step further, Veduca has announced the next step on its path to become the Latin American leader in the MOOC arena. On October 1st the platform announced the first online open MBA. The MBA in Engineering and Innovation is aimed at graduate professionals and entrepreneurs with a focus on innovation. According to Carlos Souza,”It is the first time, anywhere in the world, that the content of an MBA online course, with guest lecturers from prestigious universities, has been made openly available.”
The guest lecturers of this MOOC come from the top engineering schools in Brazil. Students can also gain a certificate validated by the Brazilian Ministry of Education, another big step to boost the reputation of online-based learning.
In order to guarantee the quality of the certification process, Veduca teamed up with UniSEB, one of the leading service providers for distance education in Brazil. Through this partnership, students can opt in for individual guidance and mentoring. UniSEB also provides the necessary infrastructure for the certification process through its network of over 200 centers in Brazil. In the first half of 2014, Veduca plans to launch a second online MBA. This MOOC will lead to a MBA in management with certification by HSM Educacao.
Besides being smart with its partnerships, Veduca has another ace up its sleeve. I often refer to MOOC platforms as a glorified YouTube because most of the technology used to create them is neither rocket science nor overly innovative. Veduca, on the other hand, has created some patented technologies that are woven into their platform and could give them a competitive edge over the bigger players in the long run.
Besides having the option to start a patent war if one of their competitors came up with a similar technology, Veduca could also play fair and license their technology, making some good revenue from the competition. Just take a look at what Microsoft might earn from its Android patents.
And like iversity, which we covered earlier this week, Veduca is behaving much more like a “regular” tech startup, which brings a fresh and much more consumer-oriented perspective to the world of higher education. Also, institutions and the government in Brazil seem to be much more open for new approaches in the education space than in the U.S. or Europe, where innovation is often thwarted by regulations and processes that take a lot of time.
To complete this mini series of MOOCs around the globe, we are going to switch continents once more and take a look at the latest developments in Asia next week.