Edmodo exec: New $25M funding is just the beginning of spike for edtech

Edmodo‘s campaign to bring collaborative, social media tools to the classroom was bolstered today with a $25 million funding round led by new investor, New Enterprise Associate’s Tony Florence.

The digital education startup uses a social network to connect students, teachers, and classrooms around the world. K-12 classes can privately log-in via a smartphone or web browser to a social network to receive helpful homework advice, grades, discuss classroom topics, and view school notices. Schools and districts can establish their own Edmodo URLs to access management and analytic tools within a completely private and secure network.

I caught up with Crystal Hutter, Edmodo’s chief operations officer, shortly after the funding announcement to discuss the growth of the education technology space. “It’s an exciting time to be involved in both Higher Ed and K-12,” she said on a phone call, adding that the company’s success getting into so many classrooms bodes well for edtech in general.

Hutter told me that Edmodo would use the funding to expand its global network of teachers, the “heart and soul” of Edmodo. “We will continue to do what we’ve always done,” she said. Feedback from teachers and students has always informed the development of the product. For instance, when several teachers suggested quizzes and badges to keep students engaged in homework assignments, both features were promptly incorporated.

Edmodo has grown to eight million registered users and is the technology of choice for 85 of the largest 100 U.S. school districts. The free service has spread by word of mouth from teacher to teacher, and parent to parent, eventually making its way to 90 countries around the world. Hutter told me that Edmodo built the technology so that it could be adopted across diverse set of classrooms, including schools in emerging nations.

Silicon Valley-based investor NEA is not alone in taking a clear bet on edtech, but this is the second time this week we’ve heard the firm’s name associated with the space. The firm recently poured millions in funding into online education platform Coursera, which has raised $22 million to date. Read more about Coursera’s global expansion plans here.

“As a firm, we’re very active in the education technology arena, and Edmodo is far and away the most impressive social learning network in K12 education,” said Florence, General Partner at NEA, in a statement.

Most interesting, perhaps, to investors is that Edmodo recently opened its API to third-party publishers and developers to create educational apps that integrate directly with Edmodo. Apps built for the Edmodo platform will be available to teachers across the US for the 2012-2013 school year.

Edmodo has experimented in the past with new digital services and tools for the classroom. In November, VentureBeat covered the company’s move into hosting live webinar events. To kickstart the initiative, Edmodo teamed up with Polar Bears International for a series of live conferences about the creatures to bring together kids and scientists.

Edmodo raised $25 million just months after its $15 million series B round led by Greylock Partners’ Reid Hoffman and Benchmark Capital’s Matt Cohler. With this round of financing, Edmodo has raised $47.5 million to date.

Image courtesy of SpecialKRB

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