Greylock And Benchmark Lead $15M Round In Social Collaboration Platform For Classrooms Edmodo

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Edmodo, an online social learning and communications network for teachers and students in K through 12 schools, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by Greylock Partners and Benchmark Capital. In conjunction with the investment, Reid Hoffman has joined the Edmodo Board along with Benchmark Partner Matt Cohler. Edmodo’s existing investors include Union Square Ventures and Learn Capital.

When you take a look at Edmodo, it looks a lot like a Facebook for the classroom. And the heart of what Edmodo is trying to do is similar to the social network in that it is trying to create a social networks for teachers and students in a class room. But Edmodo is completely private and secure, and allows teachers to also manage class content, collaborate and more within the platform.

Basically, Edmodo is a free service that allows teachers to create and maintain their own safe and secure, collaborative classroom communities across mobile and web platforms.

Teachers can share educational content, manage projects and assignments, handle notifications, conduct quizzes and events, and facilitate other engaging learning experiences with students. Schools and districts can claim unique Edmodo web addresses for added communication and customization. And teachers can build profile pages on Edmodo, which they use to meet and stay in contact with other educators, sharing best practices and top resources.

On the student side, members of an Edmodo classroom can interact with the site, take quizzes, participate in games, ask the teacher questions. But students may not direct message each other within the platform. Edmodo is not meant to be a social platform for student to student interactions that don’t relate to what’s going on in the classroom.

Edmodo’s CEO, Nic Borg tells me that for the most part, technology has been absent for in K-12 education. The startup set out to help disrupt this space, and actually focused on the teacher as the entry point, which he says made the platform more effective.

Hoffman said of the investment: “Both Matt and I have seen networks grow spectacularly once they hit their tipping point. It’s clear to us that Edmodo is well on its way to becoming one of the key networks in our lives. Just as LinkedIn is the professional graph for work and Facebook is the social graph for your friends, Edmodo is the educational graph for learning. The graph provides the platform for teachers to bring selections of the web to the classroom…Edmodo is the third social graph network that Greylock has invested in, after Linkedin and Facebook.”

Edmodo has been quietly growing into a multi-million member business. The startup’s web-based platform now has 5 million users in 60,000 schools, which is up from 500,000 users at the end of 2010.

Benchmark’s Cohler explains to us that Edmodo “proves that the classroom is where technology and learning are connecting.” He highlights Edmodo’s ability to work on a variety of platforms, including the iPad, desktop, and laptop, as a key way the startup is helping provide a collaborative environment for teachers and students. With the network effect Edmodo is having, he says, the next step for the startup is to expand globally.

“At Benchmark, we invest in great teams whose companies are achieving extraordinary impact, and we’re very enthusiastic about Edmodo’s long-term success and vision,” he says.

Borg and Edmodo Chairman Rob Hutter tell me that the new funding will be used towards hiring engineering talent, and scaling the platform.

The online learning space is heating up, especially at the K-12 level. For example, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr just led a $11 million round in adaptive e-learning for math platform DreamBox. And online learning portal Khan Academy is also growing fast. With a list of all-star investors, fast-growing usage, and global expansion plans, I’m sure we’ll be hearing about Edmodo in 2012.