Every high school and college campus has unofficial channels for swapping old exams, opinions about teachers, study guides and grim grade distribution tales. Now online student community Koofers aims to centralize all of this on the web — and it just racked up a $500,000 tranche of an anticipated $2 million first round to expand to new campuses.
The site targets professors as well as students, and all members can upload documents relevant to courses and participate in discussion forums. Students can rate their teachers, and instructors can both view their ratings and post test grade distributions (displayed in neat-looking pie charts).
Koofers has also made efforts to capitalize on the social-networking impulses of college students. Not only does the service provide regular product updates via Twitter, but it is also trying to expand its presence on Facebook. It was recently named one of 25 finalists in Facebook’s fbFund developers competition (out of about 600 entries), and is in the running to win up to $225,000 (it already gets $25,000), free marketing promotions, and connections with investors and Facebook engineers. The contest’s five winners will be announced Dec. 12.
Based in Reston, Va., the company got its start by uploading past course materials archived by fraternities and sororities at Virginia Tech (in fact, “koofers” is slang at the school for old tests). The service is now open to 25 campuses, including Colorado State, William and Mary, Texas Tech and the University of Iowa. More are sure to follow soon with the new funding.
PaidContent suggests that the investment is part of the broader buzz surrounding social education and learning startups. Two prime examples are Brightstorm, a provider of educational videos, that just received $6 million in venture funding in October, and Cramster, a site that connects study buddies, which nabbed $3 million. Learning games site Tabula Digita is picking up steam, and Tutor.com just hired 900 new online homework helpers. This seems like a pretty strong wave for Koofers to ride during the downturn.