Penn Students Leave School to Launch CourseKit With $1 Million Seed Round

Three students at the University of Pennsylvania—Joseph Cohen, Dan Getelman, and Jim Grandpre—are quitting school to launch a new education startup called Coursekit, and they’ve raised $1 million in a seed round to do it. (Peter Thiel would be proud). The New York City startup just closed a seed round from Founder Collective, IA Ventures, Shasta Ventures and some angels. IA Ventures led the round.

Coursekit is like Facebook or Yammer for courses. Like many other students frustrated with Blackboard, the current online course management standard, the Coursekit founders think they can do a better job. “It is really a Blackboard replacement with a heavy emphasis on social networking,” says CEO Cohen.

The service will launch later this summer in time for the Fall semester. It’s a place where teachers can post their syllabus, reading materials, grades, calendars, links, and so on. It is designed as a way for professors to manage their course and interactions with students.

But it is also a social messaging system for students to communicate with each other. “We want a 300 person lecture feel like a 20 person seminar,” says Cohen. Students can share links, videos, MP3s, and other files like PDFs. In this way, they can bring in relevant material from the Web to enhance the course and teach each other.