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10 Education Startups That Will Change The Way We Learn

With the rise of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), many in the world of education are signing on to the “sky is falling” belief that because things are about to change in a big way, it’ll be for the worst. But revisionists see things a little differently. Instead of looking at change as a bad thing, they see it as a chance to adapt. Look at what Amazon has done with publishing, for instance. Traditional publishers have used a broken, incoherent model for years. In the old system, they paid huge bucks for key placement of a few premier authors.

(Think Stephen King, James Patterson, etc.)

Meanwhile, midlist authors have had to sign away their rights, work for peanuts, and receive little to no marketing push. Furthermore, whatever a bookstore didn’t sell could be sent back to the publisher for a refund. As a result, only a few top names sold really well, and the rest were left to languish.


When Amazon came along and beefed up its ePublishing platform, a lot of these midlist authors got their rights back, republished in an eBook edition, and started making the best money of their lives. J.A. Konrath and Barry Eisler are two such examples. Additionally, Amazon opened up opportunities for self-publishers to make a living doing what they loved. (Names like John Locke and E.L. James.)

Meanwhile, under the old model, major bookstores have been shutting down left and right. Companies like Borders and Waldenbooks, once major players, have had to close their doors for good.

So yes, technology can disrupt the existing ecosystem and force major changes in the way that people do things, but it can also open a lot of doors. In that spirit, we take a look at 10 Education Startups That Will Change The Way We Learn. These companies do things differently, but if it brings down the out-of-control cost of education, we’re all for it.

1. Academic Room

From Harvard Innovation Lab, Academic Room is a social platform connecting industry to academic experts within certain areas of practice, spanning philosophy, history, economics, engineering, architecture, medicine, and all points in between. Experts are a part of knowledge communities, where they curate content, communicate with peers, and provide consultation at one centralized location.

Where to find it on the web:


2. Courseplay

Courseplay is a solution for e-learning that is designed for corporates, institutes and individuals, globally.

The service offers a white-labeled, cloud-hosted platform that provides the services to create, upload, and maintain content, add-ons, and the platform as a whole. With Courseplay, you can boost how far course materials reach and how effective they are in accomplishing their objectives.

Instructors have an easy time creating and uploading learning materials, while at the same time, the user stays plugged in to the content until each of the learning goals have been met.

Where to find it on the web:


3. 2u.com

2u, Inc., is shaking things up in the world of higher education by enhancing the planet’s best online learning experiences in cooperation with the biggest and most prestigious universities. Now in its fifth year, the operation is handled by a group of teaching veterans. 2u furnishes schools with the engineering, infrastructural backing, and capital they require to change on-campus programs into the very best online platforms. And the more that schools can harness the power of technology to reach their kids, the lower costs (and quality) will be for everyone.

Where to find it on the web:


4. Khan Academy

Khan Academy’s mission is to change education for the better by providing a free world-class experience for anyone anywhere. The entirety of the site’s resources are available to anyone with an Internet connection. Makes no difference if you’re a student, teacher, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or home-schooler. Free of charge MEANS free of charge. The video library supports everything from K-12 math to science topics like biology, chemistry, and physics. It even scales upward to the humanities (i.e. finance, history, etc). Each video runs about 10 minutes long, so it’s easily digestible and can be squeezed in to most any person’s day.

Where to find it on the web:


5. Iversity

The team at iversity.org wants to take education global and go “beyond the existing teaching formats to enable wholly new forms of online teaching and learning,” according to the company website. To do this, the founders seek to develop open courses with “individual instructors, universities and knowledge-based companies” joining in the effort to “democratize education.”

Students get structured, multimedia materials from which to learn; assessment and feedback via multiple choice testing and peer reviews; discussion boards where they can have access to peer-to-peer learning through Q&A and sharing of knowledge.

Iversity’s founders also said it was not their aim “to replace the university or the academics that work there.”

“Our aim is to empower them. We want to allow the best professors to teach thousands of students. On the other hand we want to enable students to take classes from the best professors around the globe. In so doing we want to improve the quality of teaching at existing institutions, without raising the cost of instruction. We believe that open courses can be an important factor in that equation,” company representatives said.

Where to find it on the web:


6. StudyPal

Groupthink is highly effective when it comes to comprehending difficult materials, and with StudyPal, users can get all the help they need. This highly social platform requires one to create a profile, sign in, and then search for a StudyPal or StudyGuru in their area to find potential help. You can view profiles to find someone in your same boat (or perhaps someone a little smarter) and then meet up for an in-person session to get yourself over whatever educational hump you’re currently facing.

Where to find it on the web:


7. Vittana

You may not look at your student loan as a blessing, and it may, in fact, be more of a burden than you can handle once you’re out of college and looking for work. However, many countries don’t have a student loan system at all, and that can impede needy students from getting an education and a chance to escape negative situations. Vittana hopes to change that with a platform that is dedicated to creating a student loan sector in the developing world. Philanthropic individuals and companies can donate to the cause and sponsor a student in volatile or impoverished parts of the world, thus bolstering the global economy and innovation as a whole.

Where to find it on the web:


8. Skillshare

Skillshare is a global community of teachers and students, who are changing the face of the skill sector. If you want to learn anything from interior design to how to build a HTML or CSS website from scratch, this is where you should look. What’s especially nice about Skillshare is the cost of the classes. We’ve seen some for as low as $20, and if you’re an enterprising sort, you can take that knowledge into the private sector for an incredible return on investment.

Where to find it on the web:


9. Intelligent Papers

Intelligent Papers is already working internationally and at home to lower paper costs inside the classroom. All those handouts and printouts that teachers give to their students throughout the year — only to be told those same documents were “lost” later on, and that’s why the assignment is incomplete — can be placed on IP’s cloud for easy storage, backup, and recovery. Students can access items both online and offline, so for students with spotty Internet access, they can still gain access to the materials they need to succeed. Studies have shown that schools can save anywhere from $35 to $250 per student, per year, by going to Intelligent Papers, and the more costs that can be cut at school level, the less students will have to pay overall.

Where to find it on the web:


10. Quora

While this one may not be classroom-ready, it’s indirectly an incredible resource for teachers and students, who are stuck in their research. At Quora, you can ask millions of questions — and there really are some good ones going up every day — about any topic that comes to mind. Quora is a great way for users with some knowledge and expertise to weigh in and point you in the right direction. What’s in it for them? How about prestige in the community, which can in turn beef up their own web platform. What’s in it for you? Help in getting past the questions that perplex you to the answers you need. Quora is fun and addictive, and can give deeper insight and guidance than sites like Wikipedia.

Where to find it on the web:


While we’ve touched on 10 education startups that will definitely change the way we learn, there are dozens more popping up every day. If you find yourself stuck — no matter what side of the podium you’re on — consider giving one of these a shot. You’ll be glad you did.

[Image via Edudemic.com]

Written by

's work appears regularly here at 4tests.com and across the web for sites, such as The Inquisitr and Life'd. A former high school teacher, his passion for education has only intensified since leaving the classroom. At 4tests, he hopes to continue passing along words of encouragement and study tips to ensure you leave school ready to face an ever-changing world.

Website: http://aricmitchell.blogspot.com/

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