Education Market

16 Startups Poised to Disrupt the Education Market

Colleges and universities are facing new competition for customers–students and their parents–from startups delivering similar goods (knowledge, credentials, prestige) more affordably and efficiently. Here’s a rundown of some of those startups.

Related story on the IMS blog:

In a new book, The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere, author Kevin Carey distills a brave new world in which a myriad of lower-cost solutions–most in their infancy–threaten to upend the four-year, high-tuition business model by which colleges and universities have traditionally thrived.

1. Rafter

Using cloud-based e-textbooks and course materials, Rafter helps campus bookstores digitize their offerings and keep their prices low, allowing them to regain the market share they were losing to other stores and course-materials marketplaces.

2. Piazza

Piazza is an online study room where students can anonymously ask questions to teachers and other students. The best answers get pushed to the top through repeated user endorsement.

3. InsideTrack

As do the above two companies, InsideTrack sells its services to universities. It provides highly personalized coaching to students and it helps colleges assess whether their technology and processes are equipped to measure student progress. nsideTrack recently announced a partnership with Chegg, through which it will provide its coaching services directly to students.


If you attended a four-year school, then you know the feeling of receiving relentless requests for alumni donations. USEED is like Kickstarter for school fundraising:

5. Course Hero

One of Inc.‘s 30-Under-30 companies from 2013, Course Hero is an online source of study guides, class notes, past exams, flash cards, and tutoring services.

6. Quizlet

This is another site offering shared learning tools from students worldwide. Quizlet
according to Tony Wan’s superb story on EdSurge.

7. The Minerva Project

Other companies on this list provide services to schools or students. The Minerva Project is, literally, a new school.

8. Dev Bootcamp

In its own way, Dev Bootcamp is also a new school. Its program allows you to become a Web developer after a 19-week course costing under $14,000.

9. The UnCollege Movement

Founded by Thiel Fellow Dale Stephens (who took $100,000 from Peter Thiel to not go to college), The UnCollege Movement provides students with a 12-month Gap Year experience for $16,000.

10. Udacity

Founded by Stanford computer science professor Sebastian Thrun, Udacity creates online classes through which companies can train employees. AT&T, for example, paid Udacity $3 million to develop a series of courses, according to The Wall Street Journal.

11. Coursera

The tagline says it all: “Free online courses from top universities.” Indeed, Coursera’s partners include prestigious universities worldwide.

12. EdX

In a nonprofit joint venture, MIT and Harvard created their own organization offering free online courses from top universities. Several other schools now offer their courses through EdX, including Berkeley, Georgetown, and the University of Texas system.

13. Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative

CMU’s OLI is another example of a nonprofit startup founded by a school to ward off its own potential disruption.


Founder Michael Saylor has been musing on how technology can scale education since he himself was an undergrad at MIT in the early ’80s. Anyone, anywhere, can take courses on for free.

15. Open Badges

Founded by Mozilla, Open Badges is an attempt to establish “a new online standard to recognize and verify learning.”

16. Accredible

Calling itself the “future of certificate management,” Accredible is the company that provides certification services for several of the online schools on this list, including and Udacity.


Technology Week: April 7-11: Integrating other technologies in D2L

Integrating other technologies in D2L

CMS (Course Management System/Software) alternatives

Desire2Learn (D2L) is the MnSCU purchased commercial product of CMS.

Prior to D2L, MnSCU paid license to WebCT. WebCT merged with Blackboard, which at the moment is the largest CMS.

in the first decade of the 21st century, dozens of commercial CMS products appeared on the market, but they were gradually absorbed mostly by Blackboard (BB).

The advent of Web 2.0 tools, such as blogs and wikis offered viable alternative to the commercial CMS. Further, open source products such as Drupal and Sakai posed additional competition to commercial CRS.

Last but not least, with the advent of cloud computing, a new generation of products are competing with BB and D2L

Alternatives to D2L:
Moodle, Drupal, Sakai
Edmodo, Sophia (, Piazza, Prulu

Mukurtu CMS ( is a free and open source community archive platform and content management system built on Drupal 7

Google Classroom