Washington DC based Ed-Tech startup LearnZillion has recently scored a $2.4 million dollar series A round. Participating in the round is the University of Michigan. Through U of M’s Social Venture Fund, $50,000 was contributed to this round.
So what does LearnZillion do?
They are creating a video library of some of the best lessons taught by “Super Teachers”, teachers who really cut through and engage students in learning at the middle and high school level. Teachers can create a playlist of these video lessons which come complete with a quiz at the end of the video session. This allows teachers and parents to immediately gauge the comprehension of the lesson.
Learn Zillion was founded by educator Eric Westerndorf who left has position as principal at the E.L Haynes Public Charter School in Washington DC to co-found LearnZillion with Alix Guerrier. While principal at Haynes Westerndorf implemented six-week improvement cycles. The frequent assessments helped the teachers gain insight and drive achievement however they also caused teacher anxiety. That’s when Westerndorf started implementing new resources like video lessons. Teacher’s would collaborate and share the lessons that worked best. That’s where LearnZillion was born.
More after the break
Last summer Westendorf and Guerrier flew in 20 “Dream Team” teachers to shoot 400 video lessons in Washington DC. This summer they plan on recruiting 100-200 more teachers who specialize in math and literacy to add to the library.
“In the long run, our customers will be school districts and parents, and once teachers really start using this, we’ll have a lot of useful data about which lessons work the best,” Westendorf told Xconomy. “We can then put that information into a dashboard about how to be strategic with instruction. It’s an opportunity to give parents targeted advice about how to help their kids.”
LearnZillion is currently serving over 4,000 teachers in dozens of schools.
Gautam Kaul, Professor of Finance at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business administers the Social Venture Fund. Kaul said that technology like LearnZillion has the potential to help students in underserved or understaffed schools like those in Detroit. LearnZillion fits in with the Social Venture Fund’s mission to invest in socially or environmentally responsible companies.