No. 415 | January 23, 2019

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Edtech insights for decision makers
This issue is sponsored by

Mirror mirror on the wall, which “micro” education trend will make the biggest impact of them all?

Over the years we’ve covered plenty of them: Microschools. Microcredentials. Even micro-writing. Now, say hello to micro-internships, a model where employers post short-term projects that students can bid to do, and which some colleges are taking seriously.

The microbloggers of the Twitterverse rallied to the question with cheeky answers, like microscope and microfiche. (Oh, you never fail to disappoint!) What do you think, dear reader? What “micro” trend would you pick, or add to the list? Let us know here!


HOLD THE PHONE: Verizon and Remind, a school-communications startup popular among K-12 districts, are still sparring over proposed fees that threaten to cut off Remind’s service. This dispute has ramifications for other mobile educational services and startups as well, EdSurge has learned. One messaging platform expects the fees to “increase our messaging costs two to three times.”

MICROSOFT’S BIG BETT: At the annual Bett show in London this week, companies come with a barrage of news befitting the biggest edtech trade show in the world. Count Microsoft among them, with new gadgets and software features. What caught our eye: free VR curriculum, updates to Microsoft Teams (a rising competitor to Google Classroom) and the ability to use a pencil as a stylus.

IS CREATIVITY REALLY A SKILL? A LinkedIn survey says yes—and it tops the chart of soft skills that employers want. So are you creative? How would you convince your boss? And is creativity something you get better at through repetition—like practicing shooting free throws? We asked professionals in film, teaching, startups and big tech: Is creativity a skill? Here’s what they said.

DR. MOOC: Coursera plans to add a new health and medicine vertical for doctors and nurses looking to keep their skills sharp—something that’s required long after they graduate. Other online course providers, from edX to OPMs and even coding bootcamps, are also tapping into continuing education.

Sponsored by Clark
TEACHERS TURNED TUTORS: Making the leap from classroom teacher to full-time tutor can be daunting. Clark’s software platform, built with educators in mind, may help to ease that transition.

6 KEY TRENDS IN COLLEGE TEACHING: What difference has all the investment in digital teaching tools really made in the practice and culture of teaching? We set out to answer that question with a series of articles over the past year. This week, we offer key takeaways of what’s catching on—and what issues are the thorniest.

DOLLARS FOR DATA: As high-profile data breaches and privacy scandals continue to make headlines, universities are trying to better equip data scientists for the future. The latest is the University of Virginia, which Friday announced it has received a $120 million donation to build a new school of data science. The donation is the largest private gift that the state’s flagship university has received.


Who will try my product? Who will buy it? Will anyone fund it? And how can I find the right people to work on it? If you’re at an edtech startup, chances are one of these questions are on your mind. At EdSurge Immersion, on April 7 in San Diego, we’ve enlisted a coterie of investors and seasoned advisors to help you find the answers. Register now for a discounted price of $349—and also get 50% off your ticket to the ASU GSV Summit, which takes place right afterward. Sound like a deal?


A SPAC SPECIAL: Will the next publicly-traded edtech company come via a SPAC? Those letter stand for “special purpose acquisition company,” and it’s what EdTechX Holdings has created to acquire edtech assets. After raising $65 million from its IPO last October, the London-based firm is now seeking its first purchase. Here’s how SPACs work—and what EdTechX is looking for.

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Follow your EdSurgents @tonywan, @jryoung, @sydneyfjohnson, @stephenoonoo and @ByEmilyTate for the latest news and scoops as they hit the wire. And, of course, @EdSurge!


LONGTIME LISTENER, FIRST-TIME CALLER: We’re considering some changes to our weekly podcast, and we’d like your input via this quick 3-minute listener survey. This will also help us get a better sense of who is listening, so we can find sponsors to support this free series. Those who fill it out will be entered in a drawing to win a $100 Amazon gift card.

MULLING OVER MOOCS: Much has changed since the NY Times dubbed 2012 the “Year of the MOOC.” The premise then was that free online courses would make high-quality education accessible for all. Many now charge a fee; some even offer degrees. How will this industry continue to evolve—and how will universities respond? Find out at our next SF Edtech Meetup on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 6:30pm in San Francisco. RSVP here!

LAST CALL! If you’re an investor or funder, take our survey and share your perspective about what’s shaping the edtech market. If you do, we’ll share a sneak peek of the report, before it’s made available to everyone else.


Throughout the upcoming weeks, we’ll be sharing stories from an upcoming series on the future of game-based learning. Stay tuned for the guide! In the meantime, here are teasers of what you can expect.

TWO DECADES IN: While some educators are weary of the term “21st century learning,” others feel it “matters more today—a lot more—than when we started the conversation.” Author Suzie Bell examines the evolution of these skills and “the gap between lofty aspirations for learning and day-to-day classroom practice.”

SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL GAMING: Educators Paul Darvasi and Matthew Farber believe video games can help kids develop SEL competencies like empathy and explore concepts such as identity. “‘Empathy involves imagination and episodic memory,’” explains Farber. “‘You have to project yourself on somebody else, on a character. And in a game, that’s what you do.’” Video games, he adds, “are the ‘storytelling medium of the 21st century.’”

TEACHING WITH MINECRAFT 101: “You do not need to become an expert,” writes veteran educator John Miller of his experiences introducing Minecraft to his classroom. “I dove in and began a journey that ultimately changed my perception of teaching and how I interact with my students.” He outlines 10 steps to start teaching with the game, and shares his picks for videos and other resources.


BYJU’S BIG BET: Just weeks after announcing it had raised $540 million in funding, Indian education company Byju’s has acquired Osmo, a U.S. edtech startup, for $120 million. Osmo, which sells educational games for kids, is expected to help grow Byju’s presence in the U.S. and lend its expertise working with small kids.

D IS FOR DADA: Shanghai-based online tutoring platform DaDa has raised $255 million in a Series D round led by private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

PURCHASING COLLEGE PREP: Varsity Tutors, a St. Louis-based provider of an online tutoring service, has acquired Veritas Prep, which provides test prep and college-admissions consulting services for students, in an eight-figure deal.


Summit Learning has backed away from plans to be studied by Harvard researchers, citing skepticism about the research methods and concerns over “its potential to burden teachers and to limit the platform’s ability to change or grow.” (Chalkbeat)

A tentative deal has been reached in the LA teachers’ union strike; terms include a 6 percent salary increase for teachers, additional support staff including counselors, librarians and nurses, and smaller class sizes. The agreement is now up to a vote. (NPR)

DreamBox Learning, a K-8 digital math company, has signed what it says is its biggest deal ever: a 5-year agreement with Austin Independent School District in Texas, which encompases 83 elementary and 18 middle schools. (Business Wire)

A “Corner Office” profile of founder and CEO, Hadi Partovi, about his journey from Iran to Microsoft, and his current computer science education effort. (The New York Times)

McGraw-Hill Education will be releasing two new core K-12 curriculum programs for math and science in fall 2019. (PR Newswire)

Looking for a job in edtech? You’ve come to the right place. EdSurge has the leading edtech jobs board with over 400 openings from schools, nonprofits and companies.

Product Marketing Manager Hire Education
​Our client is helping to bridge the gap between parents and teachers. They are quickly gaining ground in classrooms across the country (and even worldwide!). We're on the hunt for a storyteller to join the marketing team!
Marketing • Startup • San Francisco, CA

District Partnerships - Multiple Locations Goalbook 
Goalbook is hiring for District Partnerships in the Midwest and Northwest to fuel our growth. You’ll lead efforts to bring Goalbook into school districts across the country and work closely with instructional leaders.
Sales • Startup • Northwest and Midwest

Customer Support Representative CodeHS
Help support teachers and schools implementing computer science with CodeHS.
Customer Implementation / Customer Success • Startup • Multiple or Remote

Account Executive CodeHS
Help bring computer science education to more schools and districts by joining the sales team at CodeHS!
Sales • Startup • Multiple or Remote

Head of Support Remind
Remind is looking for a Head of Support who's passionate about the education industry and working with students, parents, teachers and administrators.
Customer Implementation / Customer Success • Large Company • San Francisco, CA

Engineering Manager, IXL Product IXL Learning
IXL Learning, a leading edtech company with products used by 7 million students worldwide, is seeking an Engineering Manager to lead our IXL Product Engineering team.
Engineering • Large Company • San Mateo, CA

Product Associate, College SAGE Publishing
Will work specifically with the Director of College Product Management, and other members of the team, to provide assistance in administrative tasks, scheduling, content system authoring/loading, and other duties to support the team’s projects.
Product Management • Large Company • Multiple

Product Operations Engineer (DevOps) Schoology
Given our explosive 2x user growth each of the last few years, and our best-in-class retention, we’re looking to add to our Product Operations team (aka DevOps). Since we expect growth in 2019, you’ll help us scale our existing infrastructure.
Engineering • Startup • New York, NY

Senior Account Executive Illuminate Education
Illuminate is seeking a Senior Account Executive to grow our presence in NYC through presenting Illuminate’s value proposition to decision-makers in the K12 education space.
Sales • Large Company • New York, NY

Senior Full Stack Engineer AdaptedMind
AdaptedMind is looking for a Senior Full Stack Engineer to help drive our goal of being the best online learning platform for children. You'll work within our elite product team to help deliver products that parents, children, and educators will love.
Engineering • Non Profit • New York or Remote

Post an eventSee all events and meetups

2019 LearnLaunch Across Boundaries Conference
The LearnLaunch Across Boundaries conference, now in its 7th year, brings together a community interested in driving innovation to transform learning and increase achievement using digital technologies.
Jan 31 to Feb 1 • Boston, MA • more than $250

Mid-Atlantic Conference on Personalized Learning
Join us at the east coast's premier K-12 conference on personalized learning in sunny Atlantic City, NJ in March 2019! Share your progress and learn from others who are "Personalizing Learning for Career Readiness"!
Mar 13 to Mar 15 • Atlantic City, NJ • more than $250

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