10 New Education Companies to Watch (Plus 3 More for Extra Credit)

Einztein Knowledge Network

[image via Einztein]

Last year I covered Berkery Noyes' first-ever Venture Capital Summit in Education held at Stanford, where VCs and private equity firms talked about the enormous potential in disrupting one of the world's biggest industries, one that still remains tantalizingly locked up by bureaucracies within bureaucracies. This year's edition will be held at the SoHo HQ of Scholastic, the ginormous kid's publisher, and co-sponsored by Startl, the "venture philanthropy" and educational startup incubator. Yesterday they announced the 10 early-stage companies that will be part of their showcase. These run the gamut of approaches to the challenges of better teaching and learning using technology.

There are the gamers: Muzzy Lane Software, which does immersive 3-D learning environments (like a really cool one of Boston's Chinatown), and Launchpad Toys, which makes Toontastic, "a storytelling and animation tool for the iPad" that debuted at this year's Maker Faire. There are the social networks: Everloop is for tweens and Notehall enables the sale of notes and tests, student to student (sounds a little shady!) There are iPhone/iPad based companies: Watermelon Express (test prep), Irynsoft (full course delivery, with social networking) and CCKF (an agnostic "adaptive learning" engine). Then there's the miscellaneous: Presence Telecare brings speech pathologists to work with students over video chat, and FairChoice Systems helps colleges organize their health information and deliver needed info to students on their smartphones.

These companies all seem like they're doing pretty cool things, especially Muzzy Lane and possibly Irynsoft. But for the most part—and correct me if I'm wrong here—they seem like they envision existing schools and universities as their clients, or else see themselves as a supplement for students, which doesn't exactly feel disruptive. That's what excites me about another startup that announced a public beta this week, and which I find impossible to spell: Einztein. 

Their concept was to get a team of PhD experts to review what's out there in free and open course content, and to help people find the best. This is something that's really needed as it can be hard to find and evaluate what's out there. Today the site features complete courses only—2000, across 35 categories, from 100+ providers. Later this year they're rolling out a suite of social tools to enable people to learn together. By the way, it's all free, and the company's a nonprofit.

(Two more new .edu companies to check out: NaMaYa and Udemy both have platforms that allow anyone to create online courses and go directly to students with them.)


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  • KT Li

    check out this company,they give kids an online video game environment plus voice recognition technology to help kids learn English. Maybe it can be the 4th credit :
    "the world's first Immersive Virtual World for English Learners to Improve Speaking Skills"

  • Rick Gordon

    Clearly the education model used in the U.S. has outlived its usefulness and affordability. We've been using is for well over a century. Yes, radical change can be made through a combination of interactive communications technology and 'best' teachers - supplemented by classroom assistants. However, the U.S. teachers unions will not allow this. The recent veto of an education reform bill in Florida by the Governor demonstrates their power at the statehouse.

  • Thomas B. Albright

    Re: 10 new education companies to watch

    FINAL WORLD ANSWER - The final world answer for education was registered in August 29, 2005 as ONLINE VIDEO CLASSROOM. It is described on The World Future Society Website http://www.wfs.org/fgalbright0... (2006) and on company website http://onlinevideoclassroom.co... which has been resident for many years.

    Briefly, the methodology juxtaposes students, who may be anywhere in the world (including those confined), together in an internet classroom. They would ordinarrily be of equal ability, can see and hear each other, the teacher, and instructional material and answer the latter. Virtually all advantages will be available without any negatives. Social and physical activities will be community related - as desired.

    A gross cost per student would be less than $300. The writer is available as a consultant for any qualified developers.

  • Jonathan Johnston

    We need NEW education structures. All this looks same old same old. You didn't even mention http://www.khanacademy.org/ which has the most views of any educational video series on youtube. AND his curriculum structure (that he is still working on) is one of the most innovative I've seen.

  • Chris Reich

    I love it. I support it. I encourage it.

    If going to Harvard or Stanford or <name college="" expensive="" here="" of=""> costs $50,000 a year, why can't better education be designed and provided OUTSIDE of academia? No reason. The money is certainly there to pay for it.

    One could arguably get a better business education from Bill Gates or Steve Jobs than Professor Schmo who wrote a book on futurism and continues to teach at Blah Blah U of <name goes="" here="" of="" state="">.

    Chris Reich