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Grockit raises $7M to make studying more addictive

Good news for the hordes of students hopelessly addicted to Facebook and Farmville.

Grockit, a company that applies social networking and gaming mechanics to studying, just closed another $7 million round of financing to fuel its international growth.

The startup lets students work on sample test problems together and rewards them with points and badges to boost motivation. It’s been on a bit of tear recently. After launching in 2008, as a social-study platform for the test-prep market, it expanded into the k-12 market over the last two years. Since the beginning of September, it’s been integrated with Facebook’s Open Graph API to give students access from within Facebook. It’s also introduced a one-for-one program called “Grockit for Good” that matches each account purchased with one year of free access for under-served students, added a VP of engineering, and teamed up with the Gates Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation to launch the Startup Weekend EDU series.

Grockit has seen a lot of adoption in India — the team tells us 25% of students in India who took the GMAT used Grockit to study — and it plans to use a good portion of the new funds to fuel growth in new markets. It will also continue to develop social and gaming mechanics to fuel user engagement.

The round was led by existing backer Atlas Ventures but included two new heavy-hitters in the education-technology world: NewSchools Venture Fund and Michael Moe from GSV Capital. Benchmark Capital and Integral Capital also participated.

One potential challenge for the company is creating enough high-quality content to achieve the same educational rigor as traditional study programs. Grockit seems to be expanding into virtually every k-12 subject and will increasingly do battle with big text-book publishers and test-prep companies slowly getting into the digital game, not to mention other edtech startups like Knewton. Grockit licenses much of its content from other publishers, but also allows its partners to author original content. Eventually, founder Farb Nivi tells us, partners will be able to attach Creative Commons licenses to their original content. That paired with some smart distributed editing (see Grockit’s guest post on Mechanical Turk for how they manage low-level copy-editing) could facilitate a growing base of quality questions to rival competitors.

The company has raised a total of $24.7 million in angel and VC investment. Its early angel investors included Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga and Reid Hoffman.

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