Where are the startups disrupting education?

Now is the time for startups to shake the obsolete education market with technology solutions. That statement is not new, as people have been saying this for decades. Many companies were started in this space and most of them struggled to create a meaningful impact. What has changed?
  1. Freemium business models change the nature of the game. Solutions don't need to be designed to meet all the requirements of the IT departments and School Districts, which basically try to fit new solutions into old paradigms, hampering innovation. New solutions should be designed for the end user, either student or employee, and the end user adopts them and spreads them virally, IT departments will join the game and integrate them with other platforms.
  2. Social networks are great ecosystems to solve one of the key problems of first generation solutions: engagement. Employees and students are already engaged in multiple social networks, so new education technologies should become a layer on top of these existing networks, leveraging interactions and thus increasing engagement.
  3. Mobile devices enable true anywhere and anytime. In first generations solutions, people were expected to use their desktop, which required setting aside the time to do it. Mobile devices are able to display highly interactive and socially connected content, unleashing the power of just in time learning (vs. just in case).
  4. Cloud infrastructure allows for faster and more iterative development cycles. Traditional monolithic development projects are dead. New education platforms should release, measure impact, and iterate fast.
These are some of the key factors that set the landscape for big companies to be created. I'm excited by these opportunities and expect to see a lot more innovation in the Edutech space within the next 12-18 months. Think of a Yammer for education... Would that be great?

Venture capitalists have started to see this trend and investments in education-technology companies tripled in the last decade to $430M in 2011 up from $145M in 2002.

This is just the beginning of a trend and more education enabling companies will leverage technology to disrupt a multi-billion dollar industry that is not going away.