Apple Buys Education Software Startup LearnSprout - InformationWeek
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1/29/2016
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Apple Buys Education Software Startup LearnSprout

Some of the tech industry's biggest players -- including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, are battling for the supremacy in the education market. Apple's acquisition of LearnSprout adds to its arsenal.

Apple, Microsoft, IBM: 7 Big Analytics Buys You Need to Know
Apple, Microsoft, IBM: 7 Big Analytics Buys You Need to Know
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Apple has bought the education tech specialist LearnSprout, a startup that helps educators analyze and understand student data, according to a Bloomberg report.

Apple did not confirm the specific acquisition, but gave the news service its boilerplate non-denial, acknowledging the company buys smaller technology companies from time to time, but does not discuss its purpose or plans.

LearnSprout is already in use in 2,500 schools and 200 districts across 42 states, according to the company's website.

The company, based in San Francisco, has received $4.7 million in two rounds of funding from 11 investors, including Samsung Ventures and Imagine K12.

Imagine K12 is a startup accelerator focused on education technology that bolsters startups in that field through a combination of strategic advice and mentorship, a series of speakers and seminars designed to help founders make better decisions, networks of entrepreneurs and educators, and $100,000 of initial funding.

(Image: mathiaswilson/iStockphoto)

(Image: mathiaswilson/iStockphoto)

One of LearnSprout's chief competitors is Clever, backed by investment firm Sequoia. Clever gives students in different school districts access to dozens of learning apps, which they reach through a single portal.

Apple is not the only company aggressively targeting the education space through acquisitions and initiatives. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced it's buying MinecraftEdu from Teacher Gaming.

Minecraft Education Edition, the new title, which will be available for free trial this summer, offers an expanded set of features aiming to foster deeper student engagement and collaboration. It builds upon the success of the first title from Teacher Gaming.

More than 7,000 classrooms in more than 40 countries around the world are already using Minecraft, which is claimed to help students better understand digital citizenship, empathy, and social skills, and even help them improve their literacy.

Social media giant Facebook announced in September that it was partnering with Summit Public Schools K-12 education project, where content and assessments are delivered online through teacher-created materials, and classroom time is reserved for teacher-led real-world projects and collaboration.

Facebook worked with Summit to rebuild their tool, called the Personalized Learning Plan (PLP), for use in the 2014 school year, with more than 2,000 students and 100 teachers spent the school year adopting it.

For 2015, Facebook continued its support of Summit through partnerships with public schools that want to explore personalized learning through a small pilot program.

[Read iPhone, iPad Wireless Charging May Come by 2017.]

The feedback from this program will be used to improve the PLP so Facebook can eventually offer it, for free, to any school in the US that wants it.

Not one to be left behind, Google is also ramping up its education initiatives by expanding its Expeditions app, which gives students a virtual tour of important natural and built sites across the planet, to more schools.

More than 500,000 students around the world have already taken a virtual trip through the Expeditions Pioneer Program since it began this past September.

Research indicates the battle for the classroom will only escalate in the coming years, as Futuresource Consulting's December report noted Microsoft is poised to raise its game in the fight for adoption and marketshare in the worldwide K-12 PC and tablet market in 2016.

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Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 3:26:03 PM
Re: Avenue for growth
Not sure - can't say I'm a big fan of early education using it though. I know kids are getting shot in schools, but I can't imagine not having the socialization of public and private schools remaining a vital part of growing up!
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 2:03:39 PM
Re: Avenue for growth
@progman: what do you think will be the scenario involving virtual classrooms, 10 years from now?
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 2:01:55 PM
Re: Avenue for growth
@Shamika: Of course it will not. Most children learn through examples than words.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 2:00:16 PM
Re: Good initiative
@ tzubair: I think an analystics system is required for anything to work in the future. We talk about improving the quality of education, and I think analytics would play a direct role in this experiment.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 1:56:56 PM
Re: Good initiative
@Shamika: It indeed would, but if we are talking about data mining business, then this would be actually fruitful because this experiment would create new data to use and analyze for future experiments, and then these archives can be referenced if we come to a halt in a particular experiment. Meanwhile students would face the brunt of it.
tzubair
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50%
tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 1:22:55 PM
Re: Good initiative
 

"I think the main purpose of these researches should increase productivity and knowledge of the students. Otherwise it will be a waste of time and money."

@shamika: Yeah that's the end goal but can't be achieved directly without any intermediate milestones. Once the technology enables a better learning process, the knowledge and productivity will increase. To get there, one has to focus on the process and see what can be improved.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 1:12:48 PM
Re: Good initiative
"Suppose there is a system where a digital assistant can tell the teacher that the interest of students in class is rapidly decreasing and the teacher should be changing the way he/she teacher."

@SachinEE: Yeah that branch is called analytics and that's one of the applications of technology within the classroom. Collecting data that's not easily available through conventional means will give better insights through the analaytics system and perhaps lead to more improvement in the teaching methods.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 12:45:11 PM
Re: Avenue for growth
"However it is also important to know the limits when integrating technology with the School curriculum."

@shamika: I agree. It's very important to ensure that technology doesn't interfere with other things and does not create any negative side-effects. The use of gadgets and apps is very useful, but if it results in something like children interacting less with each other, then we have a problem there.
progman2000
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50%
progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 6:11:41 AM
Re: Avenue for growth
I wasn't even thinking of it in a virtual classroom sense. I was talking from the perspective of a parent, viewing websites for homework, grading, letters from the school, etc. But you make a good point - virtual classrooms introduces a whole other wrinkle.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 1:31:58 AM
Re: Avenue for growth
@sachin. I agree with you. I think at the moment there are virtual classes for students who are doing their higher studies. However don't you think this will not help the students to learn about interaction, team work?
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