Knowledge Delivery Systems hauled in a $6 million fourth round of institutional funding Friday, and the online educational provider vowed to use the cash to help improve one large urban school district at a time.
KDS’ cloud based software play is currently deployed in the public school districts in Philadelphia, Chicago, and cities throughout New Mexico. Specifically, KDS solutions allow for teachers already working within respective school districts to work remotely with educational coaches to improve performance and obtain online certifications and degrees.
In other words, they get tools to move up the ladder.
“This is a way to bring more depth and fidelity to the educational process for teachers,” said KDS chief executive Alvin Crawford.
Crawford is an online education veteran. Prior to taking the KDS helm, he was at Schoolnet.com, which was purchased by educational heavyweight Pearson in 2011 for $230 million.
For U.S. public schools, under fire in many regions of the country for shoddy teachers and failing students, online education used to be relegated to webinars where educators could get degrees but very little effective training, Crawford said.
In 2001, for example, online education was largely a “retail business where the customer, a student or teacher, came to a site and bought online courses. Now, it’s face to face and working collaboratively to scale, which means teachers are working with coaches face to face,” Crawford said.
KDS’ cloud solutions now means that 50 teachers at a time can effectively go through training with coaches to improve job performance, which in turn benefits students. Right now, most teachers work with coaches individually in training classes that last up to a week and are expensive.
KDS is headquartered in New York City and employees 50. Launched in 2001, it has shifted its technical priorities from webinars to focusing on specialized online education for teachers.
The formula is a winning one: KDS pulled in approximately $10 million in 2013 and is on track to nearly triple that in 2014.
“Better teachers means lower costs for school districts,” Crawford said.
“We’re taking something to scale here. We’re helping up to 5,000 teachers in a district get up to speed. We focus not on the accountability side, but on support.
“We’re not helping just 5 percent of teachers, but 100 percent.”