Shark Tank’s StartUp Releases a New Version of Its Kids Computer with Zoom and Google Meet

IBL News | New York

Creators of the kid laptop Tanoshi released this month an improved version of its device. The new one, Tanoshi Scholar, is designed for distance learning and is compatible with Zoom and Google Meet. It costs $250.

Oakland, California-based Tanoshi start-up was heavily promoted through the TV show “Shark Tank”.

Tanoshi’s first computer, the Tanoshi 2-in-1, for kids 6-12 years costs $160. It got “explosive sales”, according to the company.

Co-founders, Brad Johnston, Lisa Love, and Greg Smith appeared on Shark Tank where they scored a deal with Daymond John.

John posted to Twitter, immediately following Shark Tank, “I love the fact that they have a mission attached to their business, making learning fun and affordable for kids.”

“At Tanoshi, we are bridging the digital divide. It’s important that we make sure our kids’ laptops are accessible for every student to receive educational equity,” said Lisa Love, Co-Founder, and CMO of Tanoshi. “Unfortunately, due to COVID, the digital divide is widening.”

The Android 10-based Scholar has all of the features of the Tanoshi 2-in-1 including pre-loaded apps for distance learning, such as Google Docs & Sheets, learn to code apps, and the ability to use with or without Internet access. It adds more educational content, more durability, and greater security and safety measures.

Tanoshi’s team includes professionals in consumer electronics, software development, and education who have worked at Google, Apple, HP, Toshiba, and The Walt Disney Company.

Noodle’s Latest Acquisition of HotChalk Will Increase Its Marketing Capabilities

IBL News | New York

Noodle OPM provider continues its growth by acquisition of competitors. Its last purchase was this month HotChalk—another OPM who had a partnership with NYU Steinhardt School and was providing programs to Concordia University Nebraska and Chicago.

HotChalk also owned a leading higher education marketing agency Creative Communication Associates (CCA)HotChalk, CEO Rob Wrubel, joined Noodle as CMO (Chief Marketing Officer).

The acquisition amount was not disclosed. One of the owners, German giant Bertelsmann invested $230 million in 2015 for a minority stake. At that time, HotChalk’s valuation was between $600 and $800 million.

The New York City-based company Noodle–founded and led by John Katzman–offers in-house marketing and recruitment services for universities, along with learning design, technology, student and faculty support, and remote clinical placement services.

Noodle claims that it has launched as many online degree programs with elite U.S. universities as all other competitors combined for the past two years–most notably publicity traded 2U Inc, which John Katzman himself [in the picture] created in 2008.

Last June, Noodle raised another $16 million, for a total of about $60 million since 2015.


Edmodo and Google Classroom Top the List of Most Downloaded Apps During the Pandemic

IBL News | New York

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major spikes in LMS (Learning Management System) downloads.

A study of—done after a survey of 2,500 U.S. adults and analysis of the most downloaded apps from January 1 through September 15—shows that Edmodo and Google Classroom top the lists of month-over-month percentage growth. 

The growth of both top apps is explained this way by the research company: “Edmodo was a great choice for schools looking to transition to online classrooms on the fly, due to its “freemium” pricing, seamless communication, and social network look and feel. Same for Google Classroom, which not only had the embedded benefit of brand recognition, it also encouraged collaboration between teachers and students.”

Later on, administrators pivoted to “more tried-and-true services”, such as Blackboard, Brightspace Pulse, Canvas Student, Moodle, and Schoology.

Schoology—which focuses on K–12 district success and community collaboration—grew an astonishing 1,168% between July and August and continued its trajectory in September. Other LMS apps also saw massive growth in August. Canvas was met with a 682% growth from the previous month, while Google Classroom, Brightspace Pulse, and Blackboard all saw their own 200%+ growth from July.

The following list shows the top-ranking LMS apps by growth percentage:



Cuomo Hires to Provide Unemployed New Yorkers with Access to Training Programs

IBL News | New York signed up this month a partnership with The New York State Department of Labor in order to provide unemployed and underemployed New Yorkers with free access to 4,000 courses, programs, and professional certificates in business and technology.

The announcement–made by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on November 17th—focuses on training on high-growth and in-demand sectors like advanced manufacturing, technology, and health care, among others.

“The war against COVID-19 is one taking place on multiple fronts, and while we are doing everything we can to protect the health of New Yorkers, we must also take the steps necessary for building back a strong economy,” Governor Cuomo said“Whether it’s taking a refresher course or learning a new skill, I encourage all New Yorkers in need to consider taking advantage of this free program.”  

This is a range of classes offered on Coursera:

  • How to Manage a Remote Team
  • Business Writing
  • Introduction to Mechanical Engineering Design and ManufacturingMachine Learning
  • Motors and Motor Control Circuits
  • Generative Design for Additive Manufacturing
  • Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects
  • Marketing in a Digital World
  • Supply Chain Operations
  • Influencing People
  • The Science of Well-Being
  • Data Science Specialization
  • Project Management
  • Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills
  • Python for Everybody
  • Cybersecurity
  • Google IT Support Professional Certificate
  • The Business of Health Care Specialization
  • Epidemiology for Public Health Specialization
  • Medical Neuroscience
  • Financial Markets
  • Facebook Social Media Marketing
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Introduction to Game Development
  • The Art of Negotiation
  • AI for Everyone
  • Programming Foundations with JavaScript, HTML and CSS
  • Introduction to HTML5
  • Understanding User Needs
  • Use Mailchimp to Build an E-mail Marketing Campaign
  • Developing An Entrepreneurial Mindset: First Step Towards Success
  • Introduction to iOS App Development
  • Principles of Game Design

During the pandemic, Coursera has reached agreements with 330 government agencies across 70 countries and 30 US states and cities to provide training to impacted workers. Coursera says that since it launched its Workforce Recovery Initiative, more than 1 million workers have enrolled in over 7 million courses to gain critical skills.

NVIDIA Creates a Learning Community Around Its Jetson AI Micro-Computer

IBL News | New York

NVIDIA introduced its new Jetson Nano 2GB Developer Kit ($59), an AI computer system intended to learn by building Artificial Intelligence and Robotics applications and prototypes.

This developer kit is used by professionals to develop and test software for products based on Jetson modules, and by students and enthusiasts for projects and learning.

Around Jetson technology, NVIDIA has created a learning community with a collection of video projects, applications, demos, and tutorials.

“Modify or try out one of these projects provided by NVIDIA and jumpstart your creativity, find tips and tricks on the Community Resources page and find answers in the Jetson forum,” the company says.




A Financial Education Platform Provides Short Lessons on Practical Topics

IBL News | New York

PenFed Credit Union, the second-largest federal credit union in the U.S., introduced an interactive, free platform on financial education for members and their families.

PenFed Financial Know How, developed in partnership with Everfi, Inc., is designed to provide members with tools, resources, and personalized knowledge, so they can make informed decisions and achieve financial well-being.

It includes a library of topics in English and Spanish on financial topics such as budgeting, investing, homeownership, and retirement planning. The platform, mobile-first designed, offers 3-6 minute modules, along with interactive, practical exercises.

“Understanding your finances and making sound financial decisions is key to a strong future, but many people don’t know where to turn to get the information they need in a way that is easily digestible and understandable,” explained Everfi Co-Founder and President of Financial Education, Ray Martinez.

In addition, PenFed announced a financial literacy program for high school students in Puerto Rico, where the bank serves over 222,000 members.

Coursera Extends Its Annual Subscription Plan Worldwide

IBL News | New York extended worldwide its annual access plan to 3,000+ courses.

This subscription plan, called Coursera Plus, comes at a price of $399 per year, and it includes over 90% of the course catalog, according to the announcement made by the learning company. The offer is similar to the one offered to corporations when they buy access for employees.

“You can master a specific skill in a Specialization, get job-ready for an in-demand career with a Professional Certificate, or quickly learn a new industry tool in a Guided Project,” wrote Anubhav Chopra, Lead Product Manager at Coursera.

The Mountain View, California-based startup firm states that “Coursera Plus learners have a 35% higher completion rate and they triple the amount of time they’re active in their courses.”

The fact that learners don’t need to rush to finish courses in one month to try to save money is mentioned in the one-time annual payment as one of the success factors.

In its promotional announcement, Coursera highlights the following courses to attract more clients:

Data Science

Computer Science & IT


Personal Development

Arts and Humanities


The COVID Pandemic Causes Devastation to Children’s Learning Across the World

IBL News | New York

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unbearable devastation to schoolchildren in poor countries.

A new study by UNESCO, UNICEF, and the World Bank carried out in 150 countries, shows that children in low-and lower-middle-income countries have already lost nearly four months of schooling since the start of the pandemic, compared to six weeks of loss in high-income countries.

The problem is magnified in poor countries with limited access to remote learning, budget cuts, and delayed re-opening plans.

“Prioritising reopening schools and providing much-needed catch-up classes are critical,” said Robert Jenkins, Chief of Education at UNICEF.

Harvard’s Professor and EdTech Visionary Robert Lue Dies at 56 From Cancer

IBL News | New York

The Havard, Open edX, and edX community lost this week a key leader, Robert Lue, 56, Researcher and Professor of Biology at Harvard, Founder of and HarvardX, edtech visionary and a firm advocate of open source and scientific education.

Harvard University reported that Robert Lue died from cancer. His death caused a deep impact on the Harvard and edX community.

“Rob was one of the most creative teachers; he was always thinking about how we could do a better job of engaging our students, and he was particularly gifted in imagining how technology and data could be used to enhance the learning experience,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow. “The kindness and thoughtfulness he brought to his work over the years infuse many of the pedagogical improvements made at Harvard. He was a valued colleague, and he will be missed.”

Robert “Rob” Lue was Professor of the practice in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology,  Faculty Director of the Harvard Ed Portal, Richard L. Menschel Faculty Director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, UNESCO Chair on Life Sciences and Social Innovation, and Faculty Director and Principal Investigator of LabXchange. He co-authored two biology textbooks and worked extensively in the field of scientific visualization.

In 2012, Lue became the founding faculty director of HarvardX, shaping the institution’s engagement in online learning and expanding its reach.

Lue’s vision was to improve education “by bringing equal opportunities for learning science [to] anyone and anywhere,” said Valtencir Mendes, Senior Program Lead in UNESCO’s education sector.

Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX, said, “Rob was an early and ardent believer in edX. Always willing to help across our network + quick to share his grand and inspirational visions of the shared mission we were all working toward. Rob was a friend and I will miss him dearly.”

Up until his death, Lue was leading LabXchange, a breakthrough, Open edX-based virtual platform launched in October 2019, with over 2.5 million visitors.

“Rob was always so happy when students thanked him [for changing] their view of biology by creating these animations,” said Alain Viel, Director at the Northwest Undergraduate Laboratories and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard. Viel was his partner of 30 years.

An online forum was filled with tribute messages to Lue.

News stories about Robert Lue at IBL News


Language Learning App Duolingo Gets a $2.4 Billion Valuation While It Prepares its IPO

IBL News | New York

Duolingo, the popular language-learning app, announced this week it had secured $35 million in a Series H round, achieving a valuation of $2.4 billion, almost a billion dollars more than a year ago.

The Pittsburgh-based company–co-founded by Hispanic immigrant Luis Von Ahn–has raised $183 million to date. It expects to go public in 2021.

With over 1 million subscribers who pay $6.99 per month and 40 million active users who receive ads on the free version, Duolingo says that it is now cash-flow positive and it will double its annual revenue to $200 million.

Duolingo, which offers 98 courses for 40 different languages, recently launched a new app that teaches children ages 3 to 7 how to read.

The iconic company was founded in 2011 by computer whiz Luis Von Ahn, 42, an immigrant from Guatemala. As a student at Carnegie Mellon, he designed the CAPTCHA system, along with a crowdsourcing device he sold to Google. This week, Luis Von Ahn reaffirmed that is considering an initial public offering as early as next year.



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