SmartTech Roundup: Deals, Raises, Launches & Smart Assessment


No, we’re not talking about the twelve tone musical technique, we’re talking deals—and we had some interesting ones in the last week.
Blackboard announced the launch of Blackboard Education Open Source Services with the purchase of MoodleRooms.  Tom thinks it’s a good thing for Moodle users and OER. Audrey Watters thought it signaled a shift in the market toward data analytics.
Princeton Review is selling its namesake test prep business and will recap and focus on Penn Foster, an online learning and job training giant.  Former New Hampshire commissioner and Bill Daggett sidekick Ray McNulty will become the Chief Learning Officer.

In the Money

LearnZillion raised $2.4 million in first-round funding from Learn Capital (where Tom is a partner) and and others to deliver a web-based platform for 3-5 minute math and literacy videos.
Learn Capital-backed startups Desmos, ClassDojo, BloomBoard and others got some love from The Wall Street Journal.

Up, Up & Away in my Simulated Balloon

Lockheed Martin released academic licensing of its Prepar3D simulation software to help student learn problem solving similar to professional training.
Pearson showed off its new, interactive high school science textbooks made for the iPad’s iBooks at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference.  And here’s a short summary of how tablets could save schools a lot of money compared to traditional textbooks.
Promethean launched a new, interactive table, ActivTable, which will come preloaded with 25 learning-based activities geared toward collaboration and interactivity.
We updated our Google+ circles with 50 tips from Edudemics.

Better & Cheaper Higher Ed

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill partnered with to offer a Master of Public Administration program, which is a second master’s degree program geared toward working professionals. Today, 2tor announced it closed a $26M round of financing; congrats to John Katzman and our friends at City Light Capital and Novak Biddle.
Gene Wade’s University Now announces $199 per month tuition for online courses.
What are you waiting for? Get started on the six-part online Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship from General Assembly (another Learn Capital portfolio company).  General Assembly, CodeAcademy, and coding ‘colleges’ got some love from the NYTimes.
And, speaking of alternatives to traditional post-secondary, check out this recent post on E[nstitute], an apprenticeship-based approach launching this fall in NYC.

Preview of a Teacher’s Friend: Online Assessment

Reuters provided a sneak peak of the outcomes of the Hewlett-sponsored Kaggle-hosted OpenEd-managed Automated Student Assessment Prize (ASAP).  On April 16, Dr. Mark Shermis, ASAP academic advisor, will present the results of a nine vendor demonstration held in February.   In Getting Ready for Online Assessments Tom noted that ASAP has more than 100 entrants and many are able to score essays with very high levels of agreement with expert graders.  The $100,000 prize purse for the winners of the open competition will be awarded on May 9 in Washington DC.
Next up for ASAP: short constructed responses, math and logical reasoning, and then formative uses of automated scoring.  The goal is to support administration of rich state assessments and expand classroom use of online assessment.

SXSW Stuff Worth Viewing

If you missed Frank Catalano at SXSW, check out his 5 trends deck and watch Nic Borg’s keynote.  He’s CEO at Edmodo and it’s a SchoolTube video (both are Learn Capital companies.)

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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