Digital Learning Tools Help Students Go Back to School

Posted in News by Ben Worsley
STARTUP ROUNDUP: SEPT. 11, 2020

 

Startups get funding for new remote learning tools as students start the school year at home

Fall 2020 feels different. Instead of putting on their fresh new clothes and hopping off to the bus, students are logging in to meet classmates from home. Students, teachers, and parents alike are embracing educational technology, aka EdTech, in new and exciting ways, to face this new reality.

But this transition towards digital learning began long before the words “socially distant” became part of our lexicon — just take a look at this Gallup poll from fall last year:

  • 81% of teachers saw “great value” in digital learning tools in the classroom
  • 93% of teachers saw digital leaning tools as effective for providing practice lessons and exercises
  • 96% of elementary aged students find digital learning tools fun, and 71% of secondary students find digital learning tools help them learn things on their own

Out of necessity, the pandemic has taken what was a gradual trend and turned them into a paradigm shift, and while we all look forward to a post-COVID world, many of these new ways of living our lives are here to stay. In today’s funding round-up, we take a look at a few emerging EdTech startups that made news recently.

Sandbox & Co. and TeachIt performed an M&A. TeachIt is a repository for teacher resources across disciplines, including Teachit EnglishTeachit Math, TeachIt ScienceTeachit History, and Teachit Primary. The online library has over 18,000 resources for teachers made by teachers, and already has a community of over 500,000 primary and secondary teachers. Sandbox & Co. is home to several other learning tools such as TeacherVisionHopsterFamilyEducationFact Monster, and InfoPlease. They currently has over 55 million children, parents and teachers in the U.S. and U.K. who use their products. Together these two companies will have a lot of influence in education moving forward.

Backpack is an online storage "locker" for students, a place to store digital versions of their academic records, extra-curricular activities, and and accomplishments into a “personal education record. Think of it like a credit score or health record. Backpack recently announced angel funding to improve its user experience. The investment amount and identity of the backers were undisclosed.

Students who need a little extra help with their studies can try GoPeer. It pairs college aged tutors with K-12 students for online instruction. Charging just $20/hour (national average for tutors is $60/hour), the platform has 16,000 K-12 students in 150 subjects. GoPeer recently raised $2 million in seed funding from angel investors.

Trala conducts private lessons to beginner violinists via its mobile app. The app offers instant feedback to the student as they play, and resources such as a library of sheet music and an easy-to-use violin tuner, and has hundreds of courses from professional violinists. Trala recently raised $3.5 million in seed funding from Techstars Ventures.

A new sports training app from Mustard analyzes video in the sports training market. It's first entry is for baseball pitchers, and Mustard will add softball and baseball hitting, golfing, and quarterbacking soon. Mustard received $1.7 million in angel investment from Shasta Ventures and Intersect VC.

Parents, you’re gonna need a pick-me-up with balancing your kids at home with work. How about giving Trade Coffee a try. They offer a subscription service that delivers high quality coffee right to your door. They partner with high-end coffee roasters nationwide to offer a rotation of coffees specific to your taste profile. The funding round was led by madrona.com with participation from JAB Holding Company.

And finally, analysts have the single-service coffee industry pegged for rapid growth with increased remote work. Bruvi is taking it to the next level. Its coffee maker brews to the Specialty Coffee System's “Golden Cup Standard." It can make drip, espresso, and even cold brew from a single machine. Bruvi secured $2.2 million in seed funding last month to increase its manufacturing capacity. Funding came from Miroma Ventures.

Small Business News

The government acted quickly to deploy aid to small business at the outset of the pandemic, primarily in the form of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. As with any large government-backed program, especially one that was rushed, there will be bad actors who try and take advantage. Stories will continue to emerge of misuse by borrowerslenders, and shortcomings within the SBA itself in guarding for it. Hopefully all the bad press won't take away from all the good these programs did. (CNBS, CBSNews, Project on Government Oversight)

Senate Republicans came to an agreement on their “skinny” pandemic relief package. The $500 billion alternative to the Dems $3 tillion HEROES Act, will provide no second round of stimulus checks but will offer enhanced unemployment of $300 per week and includes some new funding for a second round of PPP loans.  The Democrats have offered to go as low as $2.2 trillion but it seems likely that this may have hit the ultimate stalemate until after the election. (CNBC, The Hill)

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Ben Worsley is Marketing & Creative Director at Masterplans.

Tagged: school, software, learning, funding
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