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Gone are the days where students have to hide their smartphones from their teachers — the devices are now being used as an ed-tech tool. Nearpod, which allows school teachers to find, create, and distribute digital lesson plans, announced today a new round of $21 million.

The Aventura, Florida-based startup provides an app with interactive features like quizzes, in-lesson chat, and 3D images. The app is available for iOS and Android and draws content from more than 3,500 standards-aligned lessons.

“We are effectively creating a digital blackboard where every student is engaged and the teacher is able to accurately see the students’ level of understanding,” wrote Guido Kovalskys, CEO and cofounder of Nearpod, in an email to VentureBeat.

Nearpod offers a free, entry-level version of the product, which allows teachers to use the app to create polls, slideshows, and more. The startup generates revenue from premium services via a subscription fee. Gold accounts, which cost $10 per teacher per month, offer teachers the ability to assign homework, receive detailed reports, and integrate different multimedia tools into the lessons they create.

Nearpod app on iPhone

Above: Nearpod app on iPhone.

Image Credit: Nearpod

Nearpod claims it is currently being used in approximately 12,000 schools in the U.S. The startup offers school site licenses and district editions that include features specifically designed for administrators to manage users school-wide, create shared content libraries, and access advanced reports.

“Right now, the big trend that we’re seeing is that schools are finally beginning to embrace BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) models,” wrote Kovalskys. “This will allow them to leverage the powerful smartphones that 80 percent of U.S. teens already have.”

Nearpod dove into virtual reality (VR) last year, providing over 100 VR-integrated lessons to kids at schools including Chicago’s Andrew Carnegie Elementary school. The startup also created VR field trips, with more than 4 million students experiencing them so far.

The K-12 education space has attracted a number of large tech companies — including Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon — and is seeing an increasing amount of acquisitions. These include Blackboard’s purchase of Schoolwires, and Intel’s acquisition of Kno.

Insight Venture Partners led this latest round of funding. Existing investors Reach Capital, GSV Acceleration, Krillion Ventures, and AGP Miami also participated. Salesforce founder and chief executive Marc Benioff had invested in Nearpod’s series A round as an individual last year. The new money will be used for hiring and product development. Nearpod’s funding to date totals $30.2 million.

Founded in 2012, the startup currently has approximately 50 employees across its Aventura and San Francisco offices.

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