Online Education is rapidly growing. It’s inspiring to hear about 14 year old kids half-way across the world taking (and passing!) MIT classes on circuit board wiring. Passing courses from a University prior to applying is becoming the hot new way for overachieving Highschool students to set themselves apart.
The online education startup landscape is interesting with those launched by professors, those launched by universities, and those launched by people with no formal background in education.
Udacity was co-founded by Sebastian Thrun, professor of Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science at Stanford and the inventor of the Google self-driving car. They just announced a $15M Series B led by Andreessen Horowitz yesterday, and is also rolling out SWNext with Steve Blank, an experimental curriculum for startups.
Also listing a Stanford Artificial Intelligence Professor as a cofounder is Coursera with Professor Andrew Ng. Coursera lists over 33 Universities they’ve partnered with including big players like Stanford, Princeton, and Duke.
EdX on the other hand, isn’t started by university professors, but by the universities themselves; specifically, EdX is a joint venture between MIT and Harvard.
2U (formerly 2tor) has raised the most money of the startups mentioned here, and has a unique business model of partnering with existing Universities to offer their degrees online. They don’t benefit from having the Klout of Universities like Harvard or MIT, but the lack of affiliation with any specific university may make it easier for them to work with other schools.
It’s also cool to see niche online education platforms successfully raising money. Voxy and Duolingo have both raised millions to teach people how to speak in weird tongues. Codeschool, Codeacademy, Treehouse are apparently churning out developers like it’s their job (it is).
The future of education will be interesting to follow. For example, Minnesota just said Coursera (amongst other online education platforms) were illegal in the state, then came back and said they won’t enforce that law. Skillshare, which launched with offline classes only is now offering online versions of their offline classes.