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Online learning platform Unacademy gets $21M Series C from Sequoia India, SAIF and Nexus

Unacademy founders Roman Saini, Gaurav Munjal and Hemesh Singh

Bangalore-based Unacademy will add more educators to its online learning platform, which claims to be India’s largest, after closing a $21 million Series C. The funding comes from Sequoia India, SAIF Partners and Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from Blume Ventures (all four firms are returning from Unacademy’s Series B last year).

Originally a YouTube channel created in 2010 by Gaurav Munjal, Unacademy was officially launched as a startup in 2015 by founders Munjal, Roman Saini and Hemesh Singh. It has now raised $38.6 million in total.

While Unacademy offers a wide range of courses, its most popular offerings include preparation for important exams in India. Its platform includes two apps: one that lets educators create lessons and another that allows users to access them. Unacademy says it has 10,000 registered educators and three million users. Last month, the startup claims 3,000 educators were active on the platform and lessons were watched more than 40 million times.

Many lessons are available for free, though last year Unacademy launched a paid service called Plus that gives users access to features like private discussion forums and live video classes for a per-course fee. Unacademy claims it has achieved six times growth in monthly revenue since launching Plus. The premium classes also help it differentiate from other online learning platforms like Mrunal, a popular site that provides free test preparation for Indian students.

In addition to bringing on more teachers, Unacademy will use its new funding to expand key categories like pre-med, the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) and the Common Admission Test (CAT), which are required by many post-graduate programs.

In a media statement, SAIF partner Alok Goel said “Unacademy has demonstrated tremendous progress towards their goal of delivering personalized learning by connecting great quality educators and students on their platform. The company has diversified across several new domains and has achieved amazing word of mouth among learners.”

nuqneH? yIjatlh! You can now learn Klingon with Duolingo

If you’re a real Star Wars Star Trek fan, chances are you’ve always dreamt of learning Klingon. It’s one of the most lovely and melodic tongues in the pantheon of fake languages, after all. Well, here is your chance: Duolingo today announced the launch of the official Klingon course on its service.

“Many Star Trek fans become curious about the Klingon language at some point, but learning a language takes time, energy and regular practice, especially when you’re just starting out,” lead course creator and Star Trek fan Felix Malmenbeck, who started working on this project back in 2015, told us. “Therefore, if the language isn’t one of your primary interests, chances are you’ll end up investing that energy elsewhere, whether it’s cosplay, fan fiction, reading novels or any of the multitude of forms that fandom can take.”

Like all Duolingo courses, the Klingon course, too, is available free of charge. Unlike regular languages courses, though, Duolingo probably had to get its legal department involved in launching this one, and the course is actually under licence by CBS Consumer Products.

Klingon joins the other 30 languages that are currently available on the Duolingo platform, which currently has about 200 million users.

Wonderschool gets $2.1M to bring its early childhood programs to New York City

 Wonderschool, a network of in-home daycare and preschools, plans to open 150 programs in New York City after raising $2.1 million in new funding. The capital comes from non-profit investment firm Omidyar Network, Be Curious Partners, Rethink Education, Edelweiss Partners and Learn Capital and brings the startup’s total raised so far to more than $4 million, including a seed round… Read More

CMU researchers create a huge dome that can read body language

 The Panoptic Studio is a new body scanner created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University that will be used to understand body language in real situations. The scanner, which looks like something Doc Brown would stick Marty in to prevent him from committing fratricide, creates hundreds of videos of participants inside the massive dome interacting, talking, and arguing. The team has… Read More

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Everfi raises $190 million to teach life skills and touchy subjects online

 Everfi Inc. has raised $190 million in Series D funding to teach students online the life skills and touchy subject matter that they never learned in school. A sampling of courses offered by Everfi range from “Harassment Prevention Training” for the workforce, to “Alcohol EDU” for college students and “Vault Understanding Money” for fourth-, fifth- and… Read More

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Everfi raises $190 million to teach life skills and touchy subjects online

 Everfi Inc. has raised $190 million in Series D funding to teach students online the life skills and touchy subject matter that they never learned in school. A sampling of courses offered by Everfi range from “Harassment Prevention Training” for the workforce, to “Alcohol EDU” for college students and “Vault Understanding Money” for fourth-, fifth- and… Read More

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Everfi raises $190 million to teach life skills and touchy subjects online

 Everfi Inc. has raised $190 million in Series D funding to teach students online the life skills and touchy subject matter that they never learned in school. A sampling of courses offered by Everfi range from “Harassment Prevention Training” for the workforce, to “Alcohol EDU” for college students and “Vault Understanding Money” for fourth-, fifth- and… Read More

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Everfi raises $190 million to teach life skills and touchy subjects online

 Everfi Inc. has raised $190 million in Series D funding to teach students online the life skills and touchy subject matter that they never learned in school. A sampling of courses offered by Everfi range from “Harassment Prevention Training” for the workforce, to “Alcohol EDU” for college students and “Vault Understanding Money” for fourth-, fifth- and… Read More

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What Betsy DeVos’ confirmation means for innovation in education

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 15:  Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks at the Magnet Schools Of America Conference on February 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. DeVos addressed a recent protest at a public school she visited in Washington, DC last week following her controversial nomination to the post by President Donald Trump.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) Following Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as Secretary of Education, the American education system could drastically pivot in unexpected ways. It’s difficult to know exactly how. What we do know is that the declining state of education, and historical opposition DeVos has already faced for her views on its privatization, will lead to the development of new technological advancements. Read More

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Arkansas wants to ban all classroom mentions of Howard Zinn (teachers, get your free books!)

The Arkansas legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit “any books or other material authored by or concerning Howard Zinn” in its schools, on the grounds that Howard Zinn says means things about America, like, “It has the kinds of censoring, undemocratic state governments that ban all books by and discussions of critics of America and its actions.”
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This racial justice map sheds light on an often overlooked part of U.S. history

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Dark parts of American history are often swept under the rug for being too shameful and painful. But engaging with that history is crucial to understand the present — and figure out how to move forward.

A new website, called Monroe Work Today, is bringing the harrowing history of lynching in the United States out of the shadows. Its detailed map and other resources document the names and experiences of nearly 5,000 people of color who were killed between 1835 and 1963. 

“History class taught you the tip of the iceberg,” the site reads. “Every citizen has a duty to know this story. This history belongs to everyone.” Read more…

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3D-printed sex organs help blind students learn about sexual health

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3D-printing technology is letting blind students experience comprehensive, accessible sex ed for the first time ever.

Advocates and researchers collaborated to create more than 18 3D figures that model sex organs during a various states of arousal. They range from a flaccid penis to a dilated vaginal opening, allowing students to “feel” their way though sexual health lessons.

While it may be a NSFW (let alone not-safe-for-school) endeavor, these models are game-changers for blind students who often need to learn about sexual health through verbal instruction alone.   Read more…

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Teachable books $4 million to turn everybody into educators online

A user sets up an online course via Teachable.com Education tech startup Teachable (formerly known as Fedora) has raised $4 million in a Series A round of funding according to CEO and founder Ankur Nagpal. The company provides a platform that’s like a Shopify or a SquareSpace for tutors or teachers. Its platform allows subject matter experts to quickly construct online courses and sell or give them away to their followers, setting their… Read More

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Google is making Chromebooks even more useful for schools

acer_creative_13 Google made a number of major announcements about its Chromebook program at the Bett education technology conference in London today. Besides disclosing that there are now over 20 million teachers and students that use Chromebooks at least weekly — and that there are now over 70 million G Suite for education users — the company also demoed two new convertible Chromebooks with… Read More

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This education minister believes cows exhale oxygen

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Cows, much like any other animal, inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. It’s Science 101, and you would think everyone knows this. An education minister in India, however, seems to have his own theories. 

Vasudev Devnani, the education minister of India’s state of Rajasthan, believes cows breathe in and breathe out oxygen. According to Devnani, this makes cow an animal with “scientific significance”, being the only of its kind to have this ability. 

“There is a need to understand the scientific significance of the cow and ensure that the message reaches all people,” he is quoted as saying.  Read more…

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MOOC enrollment drops at HarvardX and MITx after free certifications disappear

education_home_canvas An internal study of the massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by Harvard and MIT shows a serious decline in the number of students choosing to enroll and certify via these internet-accessible classrooms. 2016 only saw around half the participants as the previous year — likely due to the programs’ discontinuance of free certification. Read More

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