A college degree just doesn’t mean what it used to.
“Completion rates aren’t as high as they could – or should – be,” Blackboard’s CEO Jay Bhatt told VentureBeat. “Nearly half of all students who earn degrees are either unemployed or underemployed once they graduate. It is clear that we need stronger connections between schools, students and the workforce. Students need to be better equipped to graduate on time and secure a job.”
Blackboard is a large and powerful provider of learning management systems (LMS) for educational organizations. It’s been around since 1997 and offers a number of different products and services, including tools for teachers to implement interactive learning, collaboration features, and analytics.
Blackboard is the market leader, but like many legacy enterprise companies, younger, quicker, more innovative startups are edging in on its territory. Rival Instructure tripled its customer based in 2012, and acquisitions are a core part of Blackboard’s strategy to stay competitive.
MyEdu develops free web apps that helps students stay on top of their coursework and graduate on time. Its technology includes tools for designing the best class schedule, creating an educational roadmap, and finding internships and jobs for your major. Students can also create profiles with information about their majors, courses, and relevant skills to share with employers.
The costs of college tuition and student loan debt are rising at an alarming rate, and at the same time, 44 percent of young college grads are unemployed or underemployed, and 50 percent of U.S. employers said they cannot find qualified entry-level hires.
The gap between a college education and the skills needed in the workplace is huge, and as a result a number of startups such as Koru and Mounza have cropped up to bridge the gap.
By buying MyEdu, Blackboard recognizes that this is one of the strongest needs facing its college and university clients. It will strengthen Blackboard’s tools for “improving student outcomes,” meaning better grades, higher graduation rates, and better chances of post-graduate employment.
MyEdu worked with 1 million students across 800 schools, and has partnerships with large higher education institutions, such as the University of Texas and University of Louisiana systems.
The financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.