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Blended Learning Startup Education Elements Raises $2.1 Million

Blended learning startup Education Elements raises $2.1 million to expand upon early success

Palo Alto, CA—October 5, 2011—Blended learning startup Education Elements announced today that it has closed a $2.1 million seed round of funding from a range of leading investors, led by Tugboat Ventures and NewSchools Venture Fund and joined by venture capitalist Wally Hawley and education investors Imagine K12. The funding will allow Education Elements to continue building out its team, software, and services, which make it easy and cost-effective for schools to personalize student learning and enable teachers to focus on small-group instruction.

“Software has tremendous potential to transform schooling. However, online learning alone isn’t sufficient because it leaves the strengths of classroom teaching behind,” said Dave Whorton, managing director of Tugboat Ventures. “Education Elements and its team is distinguished by its commitment to partnering with K-12 schools to give them the knowledge, tools, and blended learning design they need to empower their teachers and greatly improve student engagement and achievement.”

While online learning and educational technology are gaining traction in schools across the country, true “blended learning” – in which educators leverage online resources and traditional classroom instruction – is a small but growing segment of the market. Since 2010, Education Elements has been helping schools design blended learning solutions that meet their needs, and works side by side with school leaders and teachers to embed online content and data into daily instruction. The company has also developed a streamlined technology platform (the Hybrid Learning Management System) that makes it easy and effective for school leaders, teachers and students to introduce online learning into their school’s instruction and operations. Current clients include KIPP LA, Mission Dolores Academy, IDEA Public Schools, and Alliance College-Ready Public Schools.

“The Education Elements team is poised to bring about a more personalized, responsive approach to schooling,” said Jennifer Carolan, Associate Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund. “Their hybrid team of longtime educators and savvy technology experts will be an invaluable partner to schools during this transition.”

Education Elements was founded in 2010 by education technologist Anthony Kim, who believed schools could more effectively use technology to strengthen instruction and also streamline operations. Working closely last year with the founding team at KIPP Empower Academy, a public elementary charter school in Los Angeles, Education Elements helped the school adjust to the loss of a class-size reduction grant that would have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding. Together, they developed a blended learning model in which students rotate off and on their classroom’s computers throughout the day, alternating with teacher-led instruction. Teachers use Education Elements’ Hybrid LMS to monitor student progress and adjust instruction accordingly. Just 9% of the school’s kindergarten students were reading at a proficient level at the start of the year, and 96% were doing so by the end of the year; 96% were also performing above average in math.

“Blended learning uses technology to give teachers the opportunity to focus on what they do best – work closely with students in small groups and one-on-one, and to do so armed with helpful data about students’ online work,” said Anthony Kim, CEO of Education Elements. “Most importantly, blended learning can unleash students’ learning velocity: struggling students get the benefit of spending more time on concepts if they need it, and other students are free to move more quickly, more deeply and go much further in their understanding than they could in a traditional classroom.”

About Education Elements 

Education Elements was founded in 2010 by education technologist Anthony Kim. The company helps schools take advantage of adaptive online content and assessments to tailor instruction and maximize learning for students, and give teachers the tools they need to focus on what they do best. Education Elements does this by advising schools and school systems on the potential of blended learning, working side-by-side with them to implement blended learning in their classrooms, and providing them with a technology platform (the Hybrid Learning Management System) that makes it easy and effective for leaders, teachers and students to blend online learning into their school. For more information, visit http://www.edelements.com.

About Tugboat Ventures

Tugboat Ventures is a seed- and early-stage venture fund focused on serving committed, passionate entrepreneurs with big ideas in consumer internet, cloud computing, mobile, security and SAAS. Tugboat’s small, highly effective team strives to make a significant difference from as early as inception through successful IPO or sale. For more information, visit http://tugboatventures.com.

About NewSchools Venture Fund

NewSchools Venture Fund is a not-for-profit organization working to close the achievement gap by funding and supporting entrepreneurs who are creating innovative solutions to the problems in public education so that all children have the opportunity to succeed in college and beyond. Since our founding in 1998, NewSchools has invested $180 million in more than 40 nonprofit and for-profit educational organizations working to promote student achievement. Recognizing that neither private charity nor capital markets alone are enough to solve the problem of education inequality, we blend the best of both approaches to ensure an excellent education is available to every child. We actively share what we’ve learned through our investments, bring together educational leaders from across the country, and advocate for smart policies at the federal level. For more information, visit http://www.newschools.org.

MEDIA INQUIRIES

Education Elements:
Julie Petersen
(415) 269-2984
julie.petersen@gmail.com

NewSchools Venture Fund:
Joe Ventura
(415) 615-6862
jventura@newschools.org