Desire2Learn is a 10-plus year old Canadian company that makes learning software — a learning management system to be precise — and here’s why, in spite of that description, it shouldn’t bore you to sleep. In a space that’s traditionally been controlled by bigs like Blackboard and Moodle, Desire2Learn has quietly managed to carve out its own growing share of the market.
Last September, the Waterloo-based company raised a sizable $80 million round from NEA and others, and today has over 700 clients and more than 10 million people across higher education, K-12, healthcare and beyond are using its learning software.
Although the company doesn’t disclose financial information, we’ve heard that its institutional contracts are now translating into millions in revenue, which along with its raise, has allowed it to expand its staff from 600 to over 750 over the last year. In turn, the company has been ramping up its focus on acquiring EdTech talent and is rumored to be planning an IPO in the U.S. at some point down the road.
While Desire2Learn has established a solid base, it’s strategic M&A that can help lead the way forward, fighting off a flattening growth curve and leading to better products. The company has been acquiring with more frequency of late, including two back-to-back in January and March.
Desire2Learn acquired course recommendation engine, Degree Compass in March and is already putting its tech to use to continue expanding its learning platform. This week, the company announced what it called “the biggest update to its Learning Suite to date” — an update in which Degree Compass’ tech plays a central role, not only by expanding its toolset but by potentially changing the way students navigate their academic career.
To do this, Desire2Learn wants to bring predictive analytics into play in education. But why? Well, first and foremost because, today, if students want to figure out whether a course is right for them — or how well they might perform in that course — they’re hard pressed to find a good answer. They can ask fellow students, check websites that rank faculty based on nebulous criteria or try to find surveys, but none of these options are ideal.
With its new analytics engine, Desire2Learn aims to change that by giving students the ability to predict their success in a particular course based on what they’ve studied in the past and how they performed in those classes. The new, so-called “Student Success System,” was built (in part) from the technology it acquired from Degree Compass; however, while Degree Compass used predictive analytics to help students optimize their course selection, the new product aims to help both sides of the learning equation: Students and teachers.
On the teacher side, Desire2Learn’s new analytics engine allows them to view predictive data visualizations that compare student performance against their peers so that they can identify at-risk students, for example, and monitor a student’s progress over time.
The idea is to give teachers access to important insight on stuff like class dynamics and learning trends, which they can then combine with assessment data, to improve their instruction or adapt to the way individual students learn. In theory, this leads not only to higher engagement, but also better outcomes.
For students, they use Desire2Learn as they normally would, using it to view course materials, take quizzes, submit homework and chat with their peers. The platform then collects and analyzes each student’s personal data and, by drawing from a wider set of inputs, the engine can more accurately predict which classes students will perform best in and what their grades will be.
The system is currently operating at about 90 percent accuracy when it comes to predicting performance by letter grades, CEO John Baker tells us — a number which should improve as the engine accumulates more data, he says.
In addition to its predictive analytics, Desire2Learn is also making some significant updates to its mobile app, including new integrations with Dropbox and SkyDrive to allow students to engage with learning resources in the same way they do outside the classroom. What’s more, Desire2Learn is moving into Patbrite’s territory through ePortfolio and its new tool which allows students to build portfolios based on their in-school projects, grades and achievements in a way that’s applicable to life after school and finding a job.
Essentially, the tool allows students to move their academic resume to the cloud so they can take it with them after they graduate, which the company is incentivizing by offering 2GB of free storage.
Basically, what we’ve come to realize, the Desire2Learn CEO tells me, is that the company’s initial approach to business (or academic) intelligence was off track. “Students and teachers don’t necessarily want more data, they want more insight and they want that data broken out in a way that they can understand and helps them more quickly visualize the learning map,” he says.
When I asked if building and adding more and more tools and features would dilute the experience and result in feature overload, Baker said that the company doesn’t want to build a million different tools. Instead, it wants to become a platform that supports a million tools and allows third-parties that specialize in particular areas of education to help develop better products.
Through open-sourcing its APIs, Desire2Learn along with Edmodo and an increasing number of education startups are beginning to tap into the potential inherent to the creation of a real ecosystem. Adding predictive analytics tools gives Desire2Learn another carrot with which they hope to be able to draw both teachers, students and development partners into its ecosystem.
College recruiting is becoming increasingly competitive. Companies have begun to realize that top graduates not only bring a lot of talent and energy to the table, but they also tend to cost less than more experienced prospects. But in order to successfully woo those fortunate enough to have their pick, businesses need to begin the recruiting process earlier. If they’re going to stand a chance, they have to build long-term, non-spammy relationships with students and educate them on the opportunities and culture unique to their business.
This is especially true for startups and SMBs, which usually lack the campus mindshare (and budget) of the Googles and Facebooks of the world. University of Michigan and UPenn alums Azarias Reda and Lander Garcia are launching Meritful at TechCrunch Disrupt NY today to provide startups and SMBs with a solution to this recruiting problem.
Essentially, Meritful aims to help the little guys start winning the Talent Wars by enabling them to build long-term relationships with top grads. To follow through on this mission, the Michigan-based startup wants to address two unique features of college recruiting.
First, when companies visit campuses for career fairs and information sessions, they meet a lot of students. Second, those prospects remain in the pipeline for a number of years before they are actually ready to apply for a job. To solve these two problems, Meritful is building a student-centric CRM platform that helps recruiting teams build and mange their relationships with students over time, starting early in their careers.
In an effort to create a simple, one-to-many method to engage students, the platform allows recruiters to invite their best student prospects to connect with current employees or alumni of the company. For example, a company can create challenges for students to work on, providing a way to directly test students for certain aptitudes or skills.
On the flip side, the platform lets students showcase projects they are working on using multimedia displays, or ask pertinent questions to alumni from their school or those who’ve worked in their prospective, future role. This allows companies to use their best ambassadors, their employees, to show off who they are, how they’re different and help them find students who are the right fit.
As to how it works: When a company signs up on Meritful, recruiting teams are asked to choose some of the employees at the company to become ambassadors and invite them to the platform. These ambassadors can be other recruiters, engineers or alumni. When companies meet promising students at career fairs or through their student career pages, they invite prospective students to connect with them on Meritful.
Once connected, companies can then interact with students and keep tabs on the projects they’re working on, their challenges, successes and so on. They can also create challenges for students to work on, which could be programming, design, business or research-related, to which students can submit solutions, while interacting with ambassadors in the process. The idea is for this to become another way for recruiters to find the best talent, and the right match.
Similar to portfolio platforms like Pathbrite, students can showcase projects they’re working on — in or outside of class — and ask for feedback from ambassadors. They can use source code, pictures or video to describe the projects, giving companies a fuller picture of their academic and professional abilities. Recruiters can also engage students through Q&As and share content and, over time, can keep track of their progress, projects and completed challenges, for example.
Prior to launching at Disrupt, Meritful spent six months in private beta, working with companies like Twilio and Cengage learning. Going forward, co-founders Reda (who previously worked at LinkedIn) and Lander Coronado-Garcia (ex-Accenture) say that they’ll be looking to build out its roster of companies and build out its student engagement tools.
Meritful recently won a startup competition at SXSW, taking home $100K in prizes, and will be looking to begin raising its seed round this summer.
Megan Quinn: Will you use this for internships?
A: One of the pools of students we want to engage with, want to help them build relationships with students from the beginning so they don’t necessarily have to be interns.
Hilary Mason: What kind of tracking and data collection will you include?
A: Tracking how long a student stays at a company, how well that company retains their talent, ongoing recruiting is definitely part of the plan.
John Frankel: What’s the breakdown of internships to full-time hires?
A: Either way you slice it, the key to Meritful is matching the best talent to the right company. We want companies to use this for internships, but also want it to breed full-time hires as well to build value for the company over the long-run.
Office 365 University 4yr Academic Key Card (Student Validation Required)
by Microsoft Software
Platform: Windows 7 / 8, Mac OS X
Date first available at Amazon.com: December 16, 2012
$79.99 Click to see price
30 used & new from $55.95
(Visit the Hot New Releases in Software list for authoritative information on this product’s current rank.)
Read the original post: #5: Office 365 University 4yr Academic Key Card (Student Validation Required)
The steady rise of tuition rates, class sizes and student debt combined with the decline in the number of teaching assistants, courses and programs has pushed education into the spotlight over the past year. Many schools have begun to turn to technology for answers, and higher ed institutions are now moving online at a breakneck pace to meet changing student behavior.
While this resurgence of education technology can be a boon for our beleaguered education system, the implementation of new technologies can come with high costs. Thus, as schools begin moving into uncharted territory, they need guidance. EdReach launched in 2012 to help shine a light on the changes in education and help schools find the tools they need to make the transition.
Through podcasts, articles and commentary, EdReach aims to provide a platform through which entrepreneurs can discuss innovations in education, while giving teachers, schools and everyone else a place to go for news and criticism on the most pressing topics of the day.
The broadcasting network’s daily programming has been downloaded by more than 40,000 teachers since launch, and today the company is looking to expand that reach with two new partnerships. EdReach has partnered with Stitcher, a startup that my colleague Josh Constine recently called the Pandora of talk radio, to help bring increased distribution and exposure to its educational programming.
Stitcher offers over 15,000 podcasts on-demand across a range of subjects, which can be streamed directly to mobile devices. With its new partnership, EdReach will become one of Stitcher’s main sources of educational content and news, allowing teachers to tune into its podcasts while making their morning drive.
This follows on the heels of its partnership with PBS NewsHour and Student Reporting Labs, which brought the company’s content to EdReach under a new channel and saw them team up to form a new social reporting movement via Whatisyoureduwin.com. Combined, says EdReach founder Daniel Rezac, the partnership aims to create a portal for news and success stories, allowing anyone to report on in innovation in education.
But the real goal of both EdReach and this partnership, the founder continued, is to re-brand education in the media. Both EdReach and EdSurge want to help bring the spotlight to trends in education and help teachers, students and schools make sense of the flurry of new EdTech products and tools. A valuable mission to be sure.
EdReach at home here.
Read more from the original source: EdReach Teams Up With PBS And Sticher As It Looks To Become The Go-To Online Broadcast Network For Education
Office Home & Student 2013 Key Card 1PC/1User
by Microsoft Software
Platform: Windows 7 / 8
Date first available at Amazon.com: January 29, 2013
$139.99 Click to see price
63 used & new from $114.99
(Visit the Hot New Releases in Software list for authoritative information on this product’s current rank.)
Excerpt from: #1: Office Home & Student 2013 Key Card 1PC/1User