Zoom-alternative Engageli raises $33M to grow its digital learning platform

Dive Brief:

  • Engageli, a digital learning platform for higher education institutions built as an alternative to Zoom, announced Tuesday that it raked in $33 million in a Series A funding round, bringing its total amount raised to $47 million.

  • The company will use the money in part to build new features for the platform and hire more engineers. An Engageli official declined to say how many colleges currently use it. 

  • Engageli was born out of the desire to improve online instruction during the pandemic, and it launched during a record year for ed tech fundraising.

Dive Insight: 

Engageli is one of several companies looking to improve video-conferencing for higher education. Rather than create plug-ins for Zoom or similar services, however, Engageli’s founders created a standalone platform that combines video with active-learning features such as quizzes and small-group breakouts. Instructors can also track engagement. 

Although many colleges plan to offer more in-person instruction in the fall, Dan Avida, the company’s CEO and co-founder, thinks the health crisis will bring lasting changes to the way colleges approach remote education. 

Recent polls suggest confidence in digital learning is growing. A survey of more than 3,600 instructors in August found that roughly half view online learning as an effective method of teaching, up 10 percentage points from a similar poll in May 2020. And a separate survey of more than 1,400 students found that nearly half “strongly agree” that they want to take some of their classes fully online post-pandemic, while a third said the same about hybrid courses. 

Engageli isn’t the only company hoping to improve remote education. Class, formerly named ClassEDU, last year began testing add-on software for Zoom that allows instructors to administer assignments and track student engagement. The company announced that it raised a total of $46 million as of February, when it was beta-testing with around 60 customers, TechCrunch reported

The companies both launched during a banner year for ed tech fundraising. Venture capital and private equity firms poured $2.2 billion into ed tech startups in 2020, which saw the sector’s highest total investment during a single year, EdSurge reported

Other companies focused on online learning have benefited from the boom. MOOC platform Coursera raised $130 million in July, while its competitor Udemy raised $50 million in early 2020. And Noodle, an online program manager, raised $16 million last summer.

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