Above: A Jeffrey Sachs course on the EdCast platform
EdCast, a company that is creating a cloud-based vision of education that spans institutions, announced today that it has scored $6 million in funding.
We’re “creating a whole new concept,” CEO and founder Karl Mehta told VentureBeat. “Universities have to collaborate with each other and can’t be walled off.”
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company offers its Knowledge Cloud platform to increase educational collaboration between universities, companies, and governments. Partners include Columbia University, Michigan State, Trinity College Dublin, and the University of Botswana.
Knowledge Clouds, designed to allow anyone to create their own MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) with an unlimited number of participants, is built on OpenEdX, the open source version of Harvard and MIT’s edX platform. Mehta said that “39 universities are currently using the platform” and that the number would soon expand to 200.
Such a “multiversity” differs from today’s practice of online teacher interaction or cloud-stored materials at traditional educational institutions, he said, because it allows students to select the curriculum, teachers, and resources they need from a variety of institutions.
As an example, Mehta suggested that a student at, say, Berkeley, might benefit from seeing lectures or interacting with an expert or other students in her major at other schools. He has predicted that multiversities of hundreds of interconnected campuses will emerge. He added that, as a new concept, EdCast does not have any significant competitors.
Earlier this month, EdCast announced it will provide interconnections between more than 200 institutions worldwide through the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Using the platform, thousands of students will engage in creating a comprehensive treaty on climate change with economist and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs.
Mehta said the new Series A funding would be used to “drive product development and growth.” Prior to this round, he said, the organization was funded by himself personally and others, including “early employees of Google and Facebook.” In 2001, Visa bought Mehta’s payment company, PlaySpan, for more than $200 million.
The Series A round was led by SoftBank Capital, with participation from Mitch Kapor of Kapor Capital, Menlo Ventures, Novel TMT Ventures, Cervin Ventures, Aarin Capital, NewSchools Venture Fund/CoLab, and the Stanford StartX Fund. Mehta is a partner at Menlo Ventures.