BibliU, provider of a learning enablement platform, today announced details of its Series B funding. The company has raised the first tranche of $15M led by its current investors with participation from new investors. The funds are targeted for expansion in the U.S. market, including new product development, additional publisher partnerships and further investments in sales and marketing.
All existing institutional Series A investors – Stonehage Fleming, Oxford Science Enterprises, Guinness Ventures, and Nesta Impact Investments – participated in the round. Richard Hill, Head of Direct Investments at Stonehage Fleming, joins the BibliU board of directors in a newly created position.
“Since our initial investment in 2020, BibliU has experienced tremendous growth – both in the U.K. market, where half of the nation’s higher education students now have access to content through the BibliU platform, and in the U.S. market, where universities and colleges are replacing legacy bookstore models with BibliU’s digital-first solution for content,” said Richard Hill, Head of Direct Investments, Stonehage Fleming. “We’re excited to increase our investment in BibliU, and by the growth opportunity BibliU has created. We also believe BibliU is delivering significant impact not only through substantially reducing the costs of textbooks and course materials but also by increasing student engagement and improving learning outcomes for students. This is an important aspect for our investors.”
BibliU addresses long-standing pain points in higher education that directly impact student success. Even those students with full financial aid packages that cover tuition, room and board, do not anticipate hidden costs such as textbooks and course materials. These expenses can derail a college education. Sixty-five percent of students in the U.S. admit to not buying their course content due to cost, while similar research from BibliU found that 70 percent of students in the U.K. have skipped buying their textbooks and learning materials.
The BibliU study also found that more than a third of students (35 percent) said they could not afford to buy their textbooks. Since digital content equalizes socio-economic disparities and students gain access to the required learning materials from day one, BibliU is helping colleges and universities promote diversity, equity and inclusion.
CentralReach, the leading provider of Autism and IDD Care Software, announces the acquisition of LiftEd, a cloud-based software that helps therapists, educators and paraprofessionals in PreK-12 public, private, and charter schools measurably improve teaching and learning outcomes for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and related intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
As part of the acquisition, LiftEd founders, Joanne Hill Powell, Ph.D., BCBA-D and Andrew Hill, will join CentralReach serving in strategic positions within the company’s special education software division.
LiftEd empowers Individualized Education Program or Plan (IEP) teams to seamlessly manage Applied Behavior Analysis-based (ABA) curriculum, record data, and access information about student progress, thereby providing critical real-time insights to drive instructional decisions and behavioral interventions for students. LiftEd will be integrated into CentralReach’s Autism and IDD Care Platform for Special Education.
“The challenge for teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and therapists today is demonstrating, in a data-driven way, that the decisions and programs used in the classroom are positively impacting each student’s progress on IEP goals. The legacy solutions that are trying to solve this problem today are expensive, hard to use, and require professionals to manually connect the assessment data, IEP goals and ABA programming via multiple, non-integrated point solutions, creating workflow headaches and limiting outcomes for students,” said CentralReach CEO, Chris Sullens.
“LiftEd’s purpose-built product, in combination with CentralReach’s assessment and digital curricula solutions, enables educators to solve this challenge in a holistic, intuitive, and affordable way by pulling IEP goals directly into its application, aligning all curricula and data collection to those goals, attributing performance back to the goals, and finally, updating progress against those goals in the school’s existing IEP system. With LiftEd, educators have a powerful tool that enables them to more easily comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and create reports and customizable graphs to visualize student progress and guide discussions with parents.”
Shannon Flynn is a freelance blogger who covers education technologies, cybersecurity and IoT topics. You can follow Shannon on Muck Rack or Medium to read more of her articles.
With the right technology-driven approach, educators can enhance learning for all students. Over recent years, educators all over the world have tried countless ways of integrating technology in the classroom. Some strategies work better than others, but the key to finding what works best may come down to starting with the right pedagogical approach.
Ask “How”, Not “What”
When educators approach using technology in the classroom, there can be a tendency to dive right into what technology or devices in particular will be used. However, when the goal is to truly enhance pedagogy, this may not be the best way to approach things. Experts suggest that the question educators need to be asking is “how should I integrate technology in the classroom?” rather than “what technology should I use?”
The key to designing a technology-driven approach to pedagogy is focusing on needs in the classroom or needs of students that can be met using technology. Concentrating on the tech first can pull the focus off of the concrete benefits that students will experience. Instead, by identifying specific needs first, educators can design a tech-driven approach with clear goals.
For example, a history teacher may be having consistent trouble getting students interested in learning about the past. Virtual reality would be a great tool for addressing this challenge by allowing students to experience history and historical places from an immersive, first-person perspective. Experts have stressed the importance of embracing change and imagination in education in order for schools to grow through challenges. Trying out new technologies, such as VR, with clear goals in mind is an excellent way to accomplish that.
Engagement and Communication
There are some specific challenges and aspects of pedagogy that technology is particularly useful for improving. While technology can’t solve every problem a teacher may face in the classroom, it can be the perfect tool for addressing certain things. Some prime examples include engagement, interactivity, communication, visibility, and goal setting. These specific areas of education are well suited to the benefits that technology can offer.
By Bob Turner, field CISO for education, Fortinet.
Education technology leaders are continuing to fight the cybersecurity battles. Microsoft reports that education accounted for over 80% of enterprise malware encounters since late February 2022. Sophos ranks education No. 3 in ransomware, with close to 500 attacks occurring in 2021.
While many universities are joining consortiums that provide security operations services, those institutions that have an active Security Operations Center (SOC), are reporting benefits including quick and effective response, decreased costs of breaches and operations, active threat prevention, improved communication and coordination, and availability of security expertise when they need it.
While there is forward motion aimed at providing safe and secure internet experiences for students and faculty, more can be done. With the cost of cybersecurity tools and talent, many programs are “best effort” and usually performed by IT staff who are not full-time security professionals.
Forward-leaning colleges and universities may have managed security services or have invested in a small team of security-focused staff. Others join with partner institutions or state level security operation centers and receive early warning information, allowing them to focus efforts when threats are reported. The rest are still struggling to rationalize the cost for any dedicated security operation.
Data breaches, ransomware attacks and other cyber incidents carry the potential for significant financial damage, among other problems, so colleges and universities have been investing for over a decade in improved talent, cutting edge cybersecurity tools, and continual testing of security controls. They’re also grappling with the need to protect research information and research budgets while also meeting increased compliance requirements that come with sponsored research.
Federal guidelines for protection of sensitive research and administrative data such as the National Institute for Standards and Technology 800-171, the Capability Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), and healthcare information protection laws are major motivators for improved cybersecurity given that personal and regulated data gathered under research projects must be protected.
Let’s be honest: Two-factor authentication (2FA) can feel like a pain. Now, security experts are pushing for districts to adopt multi-factor authentication (MFA)–multi-factor, as in more than two factors?
You may already hear the chorus of complaints. Do we really need this?
But here’s the thing: With malware attacks rising, authentication systems using two or more factors are the best way for districts to keep accounts from being hacked, and there are ways to make the process less painful.
While MFA and 2FA will always be seen as a pain by significant segments of your constituency, the good news is the process can be fairly painless (especially since often, MFA only needs to happen every once in awhile to ensure the user is who they claim to be). Beyond that, the goal is to have them see and understand it as a very important pain.
And thankfully, there are ways to do that.
What is MFA (and by extension, 2FA)?
MFA is a process that uses multiple sources to verify someone’s identity, usually online, usually so that person can access an organization’s platforms, tools, or email or data servers.
Only 21% of continuing, workforce and online education leaders say their divisions have the staff needed to execute on their critical work. However, more than half of leaders also report that their division’s roles have increased since the pandemic. This is according to the Modern CampusState of Continuing Education 2022 report, conducted in partnership with The EvoLLLution and the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA).
The study explores the opportunities and challenges facing leaders of professional, continuing and workforce education divisions at colleges and universities across North America. These divisions are often responsible for both making the expertise of the institution more accessible to the community and delivering critical upskilling and reskilling programming that help people find great jobs in sustainable careers.
Moreover, while two-thirds of survey respondents said they had support from senior executives to scale and grow, more than half pointed to administrative burden as their greatest obstacle to scale. In fact, an overwhelming majority of respondents indicate that they don’t have access to numbers as basic as real-time enrollment data—while being increasingly relied on to drive revenue and enrollment growth for the institution.
“The future of higher education is lifelong learning—we at Modern Campus know that. Engaging learners beyond traditional two- and four-year programs is the best way for colleges and universities to thrive,” said Brian Kibby, chief executive officer at Modern Campus. “This year’s State of Continuing Education research—along with nearly every conversation I have with presidents and provosts—confirms it. To support our communities, though, we need to better serve the CE and workforce development administrators who made it clear in this survey they don’t have the resources they need.”
While there’s little wide-ranging research available on the continuing, professional and workforce market, these units tend to be at the forefront of transformation and innovation in the higher education industry. Understanding the trends in CE provides a high-level view into where the rest of the postsecondary industry is moving.
“The results of this year’s State of Continuing Education study highlight what UPCEA members already know – that online and professional continuing education leaders often lack both the data and resources needed to achieve the institutional goals set out for their unit,” said Bob Hansen, chief executive officer at UPCEA. “This is a time of unparalleled opportunity for online and professional continuing education units to improve the broader higher education field, and the data in this study is a key tool as they advocate for institutional change.”
St. Louis Community College, the region’s largest higher educational institution with 26,166 students and 2,127 faculty and staff, endeavors to strengthen the communities it serves through the success of its students. Part of boosting student success has been meeting students where they are – with a mobile app where they can connect to college services, news and information.
To make that charter a reality, STLCC’s Director of Enterprise Services and Operations, Information Technology, Khouloud Hawasli, led the program of creating mobile experiences geared to current and potential students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, parents and visitors. She and her team delivered the project in phases through the fall of 2020 and fall of 2021.
Powered by Modo, a low-code app-building platform, the STLCC mobile app lets students register for classes, view their schedules and student information, receive notifications and access events. Prospective students can explore the college, apply directly, and chat with representatives through the app. Faculty and staff can access their pay/vacation info, directories, and help desks, while parents, visitors, alumni and friends can join the alumni association, request transcripts, check event calendars and more.
Incentive Program Succeeds with Safety, Speed and Privacy
As the fall 2021 session approached, the college was exploring ways to bring students back for in-person learning safely and developed a vaccination incentive program for students, faculty, and staff. The sticking point was in how to bring students’ private health information into their system securely. When asked to explore 3rd party tools to enable the program, Hawasli smiled, “We already had a secure connection between the STLCC mobile app and the student information system. It was an easy answer.”
Response from Amrit Ahluwalia, director of strategic insights, Modern Campus.
I’ve had conversations with hundreds of provosts and senior administrators at colleges and universities across North America, and around the world, all reflecting on how the industry is evolving, how student needs are changing, and how institutions are adapting to keep pace with those shifts.
While many institutional leaders try to reflect on whether changes are flashes in the pan or meaningful disruption, the fact is that higher education has been on a consistent trajectory to make education increasingly modular and to make the student experience increasingly flexible and learner centric.
Promising: Better Student Engagement
We’re seeing colleges and universities invest in technologies built to support the learner in ways they haven’t before: Platforms built with the specific goal of engaging learners. Technologies that give learners direct pathways to success with clear career outcomes, that personalize the online experience or even simplify things like registration—these digital assets take the modern student from a ‘learner to earner’ in the most personalized and efficient path possible. The fact is that students enroll in higher education to get a job—58% of freshmen say this is their primary motivator for enrolling—and the industry is elevating to support those needs.
Technologies that put the student engagement and experience first—that support the ‘learner-to-earner’ journey—must become the norm in higher education. The modern learner is savvy, they have alternatives to the traditional path to higher education and therefore colleges and universities must adapt to the needs of the modern learner. We saw this during the pandemic: while freshman enrollment in higher education dropped 13% industry-wide, bootcamp enrollment grew 30%. The many alternatives to higher education keep pushing the status quo in how we serve modern learners.
Challenging: Transactional Infrastructure
It’s expensive for colleges and universities to attract students, but most institutions continue to focus on two- or four-year transactional relationships with students. This is a particular head-scratcher when 70% of learners are non-traditional, and when 68% of adults considering enrolling in education programming say they prefer non-degree or alternative credential options.
The commercial world outside of postsecondary education, would go bankrupt if we focused on merely short term, transactional relationships. We always search for ways to provide an experience that lets us work with that customer for life; not for two or three or four years. If that’s the length of our relationship, we go out of business. The relationship between students and institutions must change to reflect the new model of lifelong learning, and it can start with systems and processes that make learners want to stay with you.
Promising: Workforce Innovation
Higher education technology is starting to provide the framework for more workforce-oriented education and credentials. There’s a tremendous amount of innovation that’s not necessarily coming from colleges and universities, where businesses like Guild Education, 2U, Coursera, and others are filling the skills gaps that many schools view as ‘too vocational’. Innovation is coming into their space in spades, and it’s disrupting the system. This makes higher education more competitive, and those colleges and universities will innovate as a result.
Challenging: Low Coachability
Higher education’s acceptance of innovative technologies can be slow. Many colleges and universities are seeing their competitors doing things like workforce innovation well, but they’re folding their arms saying, ‘Well, that’s not for us.’ There are people like Dr. Crow (president of ASU) who’ve been amplifying their technologies and facilities for decades, but other colleges and universities aren’t hearing the call. They’re not being coachable. The innovation is out there, but institutions need to take it and make it their own.
Infosys Foundation USA, in collaboration with Infosys, announces the launch of the Infosys Springboard learning program in the U.S. to empower educators, students, and aspiring professionals with digital skills to be successful in the 21st Century. Infosys Springboard includes content across the digital learning, maker education, and professional life skills continuum.
The integrated digital skills program includes three lifelong learning offerings: ‘Educating the Future’, ‘Upskilling Today’ and ‘Reskilling for Tomorrow’ – meeting all learners where they are on their digital journey, irrespective of background or educational development.
Kate Maloney, executive director, Infosys Foundation USA – “We know that technology jobs are exploding across the US, however only 51% of US public high schools teach computer science. It is imperative that we all work together to ‘start early’ investing in the generations who will need digital skills to thrive in the 21st Century economy. Infosys Foundation USA is all-in to support the commitment to bring lifelong digital skills across the U.S. so that all can fully participate in the technology opportunities of the future.”
Across its three offerings, Infosys Springboard aims to democratize access to digital learning that empowers aspirants across the spectrum from K-12 teachers and students to post-secondary learners, all the way to professionals seeking to reskill. The initiative will be led by a dedicated team of experts, curriculum partners, non-profits and a global network of leading educational institutions, to offer these online programs free to diverse learners:
Educating the Future through the Pathfinders Online Institute, an online platform offering dynamic computer science and maker education content for K-12 teachers, students, and families, including live events, on-demand courses, professional development, as well as free kits and instructional licenses to enrich the K-12 classroom.
Upskilling Today with the Digital Academy, an online platform that provides upskilling opportunities in the latest digital trends, soft skills, and emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and cybersecurity for the benefit of post-secondary learners or others seeking transferable skills aligned to the digital future.
Reskilling for Tomorrow with Reskill and Restart, an online platform that brings together professionals, trainers, and employers in a guided journey that begins with an aptitude and skills assessment, is followed by curated role-specific digital skills training pathways and culminates in matching skills with opportunities of the digital economy.
Ravi Kumar, president, Infosys and Chairperson of Infosys Foundation USA, “Our goal has long been to put our digital expertise and capabilities to work to improve society, arming people with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the future. Challenges resulting from the pandemic have continued to reinforce the urgent need for accessible instruments of digital learning for people from all walks of life. That’s exactly why we believe the expansion of Infosys Springboard in the U.S. is an important investment in our students, educators, workforce, and the digital infrastructure of our country.”
Instructure, the makers of Canvas, has launched a channel partner program, which will allow the company to expand rapidly to new international markets and address the complex educational needs of higher education and K-12 institutions worldwide by providing them access to its Instructure Learning Platform.
The program is specifically tailored to assist partners in emerging markets and key countries where educational institutions are looking for more robust, flexible solutions to the unique learning challenges facing students today. The Instructure Learning Platform offers learning management, assessment, content, online programs and analytics built into an easy-to implement and use system.
While Instructure’s global market share has grown significantly in recent years, the channel partner program is expected to spur rapid growth in APAC, EMEA, and LATAM markets. Instructure’s flagship product, Canvas, is a market leader among a crowded LMS landscape and is seeing broad adoption worldwide.
Among the greatest challenges educators face today are creating flexible online learning programs, engaging students with technology in the classroom and assessing student learning with timely, actionable data that drives instruction.
Benefits to Partners
Channel partners now have the opportunity to join forces with one of the fastest-growing edtech platforms in the world. Canvas is currently available in 34 languages and counting. The Instructure Channel Partner Program has a tiered structure with expanded benefits for higher tiers. Instructure has invested in deep, collaborative sales relationships with value-added resellers.
“As educational institutions worldwide seek to open access to learning, edtech solutions such as Canvas become even more important in making student success more equitable. Instructure’s Channel Partner Program extends opportunities to key partners that can help identify needs and fulfill with the support of a global edtech leader,” said Jack Jackson, vice president of Global Channel Sales at Instructure.
With the new program, potential partners now have additional ways to realize revenue, beyond reselling products, with opportunities such as implementation, training and support services.
The program will include a channel partner onboarding process, including a partner management platform, extensive training, ongoing sales enablement and marketing support from Instructure’s dedicated channel team. Instructure’s program offers clear compensation and incentives to foster a mutually-beneficial relationship with partners. All partners will be assigned a dedicated channel account manager and be eligible for market development funds (MDF), deal registration and back-end rebates.
Instructure is excited to partner with world-class distributors across the globe such as QBS. “Our teams are eager to enable Instructure to broaden and deepen their partner base across Europe through our QBS community of valued partners. Instructure is the category leader and initial interest in their partner program is very impressive,” said Dave Stevinson, CEO of QBS Technology Group.