10 Education Startups You Should Know

By Sarah Brodsky , last updated February 1, 2012

Anyone who's intrigued by new education trends and products needs to know about these ten startups. These startups take the latest technological concepts, like crowdsourcing, apps, and e-books and apply them to education. Some of their products are meant to be used in classrooms, while others are designed for students to use on their own or with a tutor. Read on to learn about the companies that are making education more effective and fun.

Late Night Labs

Laboratories can be expensive for schools to build and potentially dangerous if students don't use the equipment properly. Teachers and lab assistants have to supervise students closely, so it can be difficult for students to make up labs they missed. Also, students don't always get the chance to run experiments multiple times for extra practice. Late Night Labs solves those problems with its virtual laboratories. High school teachers and college professors can choose from 150 biology and chemistry experiments, or they can create their own virtual demonstrations and lab assignments. Late Night Labs plans to add microbiology and forensics labs to the mix in the near future.

DreamBox Learning

DreamBox Learning has created an online math program to allow students to master skills at their own pace. Students watch lessons, play math games, and work with virtual manipulatives. Lessons begin at the kindergarten level and go through third grade, and the content is consistent with the Common Core State Standards. The program helps teachers monitor student progress and detect which students need additional tutoring or practice.


With the app from Educreations, anybody with a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer can be a teacher. The app lets you build whiteboard lessons using colored "markers," and you get to narrate the lessons and add pictures. Once you're done, you can post your lesson to a classroom blog or share it on Facebook and Twitter.


ShowMe is another startup with an interactive whiteboard app. Instructors can draw with red, blue, green, or orange "markers" and record audio narrations. The technology works so well that the Princeton Review chose to use it for an SAT prep app.


TutorCloud connects students with tutors in online classrooms, where they can video chat and work on virtual whiteboards. Students can hold a homework sheet or textbook page up to their webcam, and TutorCloud will take a picture so the tutor can read it. Unlike other tutoring services that have upfront charges or monthly fees, students pay for only as much tutoring as they use.


BrainNook has created an online world of educational kids' games. While kids compete with other players, they learn about English and math. Moderators and privacy controls ensure a safe environment, and parents are able to monitor their kids' activity through progress reports. The games are tailored for students in grades one through five. BrainNook is free to join, but additional content is available to subscribers who pay $4.99 a month.


Goalbook, currently in beta, is a platform for setting student goals and tracking progress. Goalbook gives teachers and administrators the ability to view records and communicate, so that all the people who educate a student can work together and share information. An obvious use of this technology is special education, because students with special needs have state-mandated individualized education plans, but Goalbook intends to broaden the model so that general education students can also pursue individualized goals and even set goals for themselves.


Test prep is most effective when it's personalized so that students progress from their starting level to increasingly challenging questions and problems. Knewton delivers personalized test prep based on students' responses to practice questions. It helps each student focus on the areas where he or she needs to improve. Knewton offers courses for the SAT, GMAT, and LSAT. There's also a college math readiness program that Arizona State University is now successfully using in its remedial math courses.


MindSnacks makes language learning apps that feel like games. As you play, you learn words and phrases in the language of your choice. Six languages are available, and MindSnacks plans to build new apps to teach other languages. If there's enough interest from customers, it may add apps for history, geography, and science. You can vote on which app you'd like MindSnacks to develop next on the MindSnacks website.


Inkling sells textbooks that are specially formatted for the iPad. These textbooks are more than just ebooks. They're enhanced with goodies like audio, video, and quizzes. A social network allow students to share notes and comments with others using the same textbook. And one of the coolest things about Inkling is that it sells content by the chapter, so students can buy books one chapter at a time.

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