Early in 2009 we organized a one-day event in New York which we called “Hacking Education” — the idea was to bring together people from different fields for a discussion on how to disrupt and improve education using technology in general and the web in particular. The spirited and inspiring discussion that day prompted us to start looking at investment opportunities in education. We set out looking with a fairly specific set of ideas in mind.
First, much as with all other content, we believe the future of educational content are “micro-chunks.” These can be videos on Youtube or on the amazing Khanacademy, or Flash simulations, or Scratch Java applets, or blog posts. The Internet has already turned into an incredible wellspring of these kind of learning objects and many, many more will be created going forward.
Second, we firmly believe in the Internet’s ability to give “power to the people” by supporting decentralized decision making. In education, the decision makers who most need to be empowered are teachers. DonorsChoose has shown how effective this can be. With learning objects becoming available and improving rapidly all over the Internet, the historic process of states and/or districts making decisions about educational content is becoming untenable (which made sense at a time when textbooks would last a decade). Instead, teachers need to be able to easily pick what works best for their students.
Third, students today are growing up with the Internet and mobile devices. They will measure the systems they use in school, and for learning more generally, against the websites they visit and the apps they download to their phones. We therefore believe that to succeed, someone needs to deliver an experience that feels instantly familiar and comfortable for a net native generation.
The team at Edmodo shares these beliefs, and we are super excited to be working with them as investors. Edmodo is based on the premise that teachers need an easy way to share content with their students. Around this central concept, Edmodo has created a social and mobile experience that appears to be resonating well with teachers and students. The team at Edmodo, existing investor Learn Capital, and we are committed to supporting the learning community in schools across the country and the world.