Primary and high school teachers already have a hard job. It’s difficult to envy the pour souls who had the unfortunate position of educating the type of disorderly rapscallions like myself at a young age. Not to mention, enduring low wages and a system largely devoid of the same technological aids that have come to assist nearly every other profession. When it comes to the actual daily process of designing the curricula that students will follow, teachers basically have to create their own, ad hoc, every night. There are lesson plan sites, but most of the content is outdated and disorganized. Lesson plans haven’t really made the jump into the digital era.
A Boston-based startup called BetterLesson launched to address this pain point with a simple mission: Provide an easy way for educators to connect with each other and share their lessons. As Co-founder and VP of Operations Erin Osborn and Founder and CEO Alex Grodd are both former teachers themselves (and Jonathan Hendler, the third co-founder and CTO has a mom who was a career teacher), they were tired of watching as cool, original lesson plans would disappear into the folders and hard drives of obsolescence. So the founders set out to design an open, social platform to aggregate the best K thru 12 teacher-generated content.
Since launching, BetterLesson has attracted a community of “tens of thousands of educators”, according to the company’s blog post, and has collected hundreds of thousands K-12 lesson plans. Last year, KIPP, the 112-school charter network, joined the platform and helped the team “develop a suite of premium features” for schools. In less than a year, the site’s paying customers have grown to over 200 schools.
To help it grow, the startup has announced that it has officially closed a $1.6 million series A round of venture funding from a host of venture firms, including Highland Capital Partners, General Catalyst, New Markets Ventures, and NewSchools Venture Fund — as well as angel investors like Steve Kaufer of Trip Advisor, Matt Greenfield (Stonework Capital), and Shawn and Jennifer Carolan of Menlo Ventures, NewSchools Venture Fund, and more.
BetterLesson will use the new round of funding to ramp up hiring and continue building out its platform and going after user acquisition. Speaking of funding, beyond outside investment, how is the startup monetizing? BetterLesson offers premium, on-site networks for enterprise customers, for which it charges a fee. The majority of the platform is free for educators, but school districts etc. can customize their home page and access enhanced functionality by opting for this premium network subscription.
Considering the startup allows teachers to browse a serious repository of documents, presentations, lessons and even complete units and courses, all through a simple search interface, and upload their own lessons onto a dashboard, you can see why teachers will love this kind of resource. Then add the ability to share curricula directly with international educators and receive feedback, and you’ve got yourself a goddamn deal, as Dave Chappelle would say.
For more on how BetterLesson works, check out the video below: