K-12 Dealmaking: LearnPlatform, TeacherGaming Raise Funds; ASSIST, Brainly Make Acquisitions

Contributing Writer

Ed-tech businesses including LearnPlatform and TeacherGaming raised funds. Also, education management solutions provider ASSIST and Brainly announced acquisitions.

LearnPlatform Raises $3.2 Million: Raleigh, N.C.-based LearnPlatform, a software-as-a-service for educators that aims to help them find, buy, manage, and analyze education technologies, raised $3.2 million in a funding round led by New Markets Venture Partners and Emerson Collective.

The investment will enable the company to enhance its product offerings and expand its services to more educational institutions and their partners, LearnPlatform said in a statement. New Markets Venture Partners and the Emerson Collective join other seed investors including Kaplan, AT&T, Edovate Capital, Techstars, and University Ventures.

“We are excited to invest in LearnPlatform’s market-leading solution for districts and universities as we believe it will elevate the ed-tech space by shining a light on products that truly improve learning,” said Elizabeth Chou of New Markets Venture Partners.

TeacherGaming Raises $1.6 Million to Help It ‘Go Global’: Finnish ed-tech company TeacherGaming has raised $1.6 million in seed funding in a round led by Makers Fund, alongside Founders Factory and high-net-worth angel investors, the company said in a statement.

Funds raised will be used to support the company’s sales and marketing efforts and fuel co-creation programs and pilots with schools around the world, the company said.

TeacherGaming, which was founded in 2015 by the team behind classroom gaming tool MinecraftEdu, now owned by Microsoft, aims to help educators elevate their teaching and engage their students in new ways, pairing games children already know and love with powerful pedagogical tools and analytics.

Co-creation programs are currently being organized in New York, Hong Kong, and Finland, TeacherGaming noted. In India, TeacherGaming is collaborating with the government on statewide game-based learning projects relating to smart city planning and unmanned space missions.

In a recent interview with EdWeek Market Brief, TeacherGaming CEO and co-founder Santeri Koivisto shared his plans to continue acquiring licenses for popular games that can be used in schools around the world.

ASSIST Acquires Advantages School International: Education management system provider ASSIST has agreed to acquire online school Advantages School International for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition will offer education institutions “the most innovative, high-performing, and essential educational management in a robust ecosystem that now includes the cloud-based platform, comprehensive K-12 curriculum and an accredited school,” according to a statement from ASSIST.

“By having an accredited school within ASSIST and robust K-12 curriculum, our education customers can leverage the power of our ecosystem to complement their existing programs with our economical education solutions that they would not otherwise be able to offer to their students,” said Michael Spencer, CEO of ASSIST.

Brainly Acquires Bask Platform: Brainly, a peer-to-peer learning platform for students, has acquired Bask’s video learning platform to help students visually learn and collaborate online, New York- and Krakow, Poland-based Brainly said in a statement. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We’re excited about integrating the video capabilities of Bask into the Brainly platform, further strengthening Brainly as the platform that students turn to for help,” said Michał Borkowski, CEO of Brainly. “As we accelerate our mission to inspire students to continually learn, we’re constantly innovating our platform so students can better connect, learn, and explore.”

As part of the acquisition, Bask’s co-founder and CEO, Ryan Metzger, and head of engineering, Robert Kim, will join the Brainly product and development team.

“Our alignment with Brainly’s vision to empower students using technology speaks to the evolving landscape in education and the way students seek help,” said Ryan Metzger, co-founder and CEO of Bask. Bask, a provider of video technology solutions for students and instructors,

Last October, Brainly raised a $14 million funding round led by Kulczyk Investments. The company acquired OpenStudy, a peer-to-peer study help platform, in 2016.

Degree Analytics Raises $1 Million: Austin-based Degree Analytics, a startup that aims to facilitate student success and increases graduation rates by leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) data said it has oversubscribed an internal round of funding and raised an additional $1 million.

Investors include Rick Dalzell, former Amazon senior vice president and CIO; Dr. David B. Palumbo, Austin-based serial entrepreneur and ed-tech industry veteran; and Dr. Larry Benz, former chairman of the board at the University of Louisville and founder of Confluent Health. Degree Analytics entered the Capital Factory accelerator in Austin, Texas, in December 2016.

The company said it plans to use the funds to develop new solutions, enhance its current platform, and expand its domestic and international presence.

NWEA Partners With LanguaMetrics, Launches Oral Reading Assessment:  NWEA, a not-for-profit creator of assessment solutions, has launched a computer adaptive K-3 oral reading assessment that was developed in partnership with LanguaMetrics, Inc., a provider of speech-enabled education applications, according to a statement from the Portland, Ore.-based organization.

The 20-minute assessment, dubbed MAP Reading Fluency, measures oral reading fluency, comprehension, and foundational reading skills and aims to eliminate the need for one-on-one, teacher-student administration. LanguaMetrics’ Speech Platform uses patented speech recognition and scoring technology EduSpeak, licensed from SRI International.

“Traditional oral reading assessment is based on a time-consuming, 30-year-old method which frustrates teachers and disrupts learning time,” said Jennifer Knestrick, NWEA product manager, who spearheaded the development of MAP Reading Fluency. “We’re delivering a better approach; one that is fun and engages kids, adapts to the needs of every child, and is quick, giving teachers back valuable instructional time.”

Approximately 10,000 students in over 100 schools – including some Chicago Public Schools – are using MAP Reading Fluency as part of an early adopter program. Along with MAP Growth and MAP Skills, MAP Reading Fluency comprises the MAP Suite from NWEA, a comprehensive assessment system with multiple ways to utilize assessment to improve instruction.

AdmitHub Joins Michaelson 20MM: The Michelson 20MM Foundation has added AdmitHub to its investment portfolio of education technology companies, the foundation said in a statement.

Boston-based AdmitHub is the creator of a conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platform designed to guide students to and through college; the platform aims to answer students’ questions, helping them figure out how to apply for financial aid, register for classes, and apply for housing.

The Michelson 20MM Foundation supports and invests in entrepreneurs, technologies, and initiatives with the potential to improve postsecondary access, affordability, and efficacy. The Michelson 20MM Foundation’s roster of education technology start-ups includes ReUp Education, Motimatic, Pragya Systems, Lrnr, and PackBack.

Let’s Talk Science Receives $2 Million From Canadian Government: Let’s Talk Science, a Toronto-based charitable organization that offers a suite of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) based programs to support youth, educators and volunteers across Canada, received a $2 million investment from the Canadian government’s Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) CanCode program.

The funding will enable Let’s Talk Science to facilitate the development of digital skills for educators, children, and youth across Canada. The project will include two components – professional learning workshops and a hands-on, citizen-science project.

“The CanCode funding allows us to provide Canadian educators with access to our professional learning workshops and an action project they can participate in with their students. By engaging in a real-time astronaut mission, we will engage learners in building critical skills such as computational thinking and coding in relevant and meaningful ways,” said Bonnie Schmidt, president and founder, Let’s Talk Science. “CanCode funding will help Let’s Talk Science ensure students develop skills needed to thrive in a rapidly changing world.”

Apple Teams with Malala Fund: Apple and the Malala Fund have established a partnership to double the number of grants awarded by the fund’s Gulmakai Network and extend funding programs to India and Latin America, according to a statement. The partnership aims to extend secondary education opportunities to more than 100,000 girls.

Apple will help the Malala Fund scale its organization by assisting with technology, curriculum, and research into policy changes needed to help girls everywhere attend school and complete their education. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, will also join the Malala Fund leadership council, the statement noted.

The Malala Fund’s Gulmakai Network currently supports programs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Nigeria.

Be sure to check back on Marketplace K-12 for updates on mergers, acquisitions, fundraising, and other dealmaking. Follow EdWeek Market Brief on Twitter @EdMarketBrief or connect with us on LinkedIn.  

 

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