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February 04, 2014

Peer-to-Peer Education Marketplace Flashnotes Raises $3.6 Million in Series A Funding

A lot of our day-to-day activities have been brought online: We bank, we shop, we communicate, we share and we schedule trips all on the Internet today. One technology looking to make our online interaction more effective and simple is WebRTC. Analysts, companies and developers understand the potential of WebRTC to disrupt a number of industries. One of those is education, as many institutions, students and professors look to the Internet as an effective platform for teaching and learning.

Distance learning and online courses are continuing to grow – 65 percent of students have taken online classes, 72 percent of university IT staff believe that virtual learning is essential to a 21st century classroom, and 89 percent of four-year public colleges and universities offer online classes.

Flashnotes is a marketplace for college students to buy and sell online course study materials, such as study guides, course notes, flashcards and video tutorials. The company uses WebRTC to include multimedia among notes, such as video, to serve as a complement to education – not a replacement.  The idea behind Flashnotes is to give students a means for extra help and resources, keeping them engaged and hopefully helping them avoid dropping out of school.

For users not using a WebRTC-compatible browser, a live Q&A session can be streamed to any browser using Adobe Flash.

The company recently raised a Series A round of funding of $3.6 million, which it will use to expand its service across the U.S. to about 300 institutions. Stage 1 Ventures, Runa Capital, Soft Bank Capital and Atlas Venture participated in the funding round.

“Our entire team is excited to have such great partners supporting our mission to empower students and ensure that more students achieve their academic objectives,” said Michael Matousek, CEO and founder of Flashnotes, in a statement. “With the college dropout rate remaining steady at over 40 percent, there is clear need for change within higher education. We believe that Flashnotes.com is a transformative force within the industry, as we’re leveraging the latest technologies to power the student-to-student exchange of high quality academic materials – allowing students to learn from each other in a way that is fitting for them.”

The peer-to-peer (or student-to-student) marketplace takes a new spin on online education technology by putting some of the power in the hands of students and adding different resources and class materials beyond online lectures.

Dr. Shay David, co-founder of Kaltura, a Flashnotes.com investor and advisor and expert in open information systems, said, “Peer learning is disrupting education models that have been stale for hundreds of years. To achieve better learning outcomes students need to be engaged, to own their knowledge, and to rely on formal and non-formal learning models. By combining these elements Flashnotes.com represents the future of education.”

Edited by Cassandra Tucker
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