Spanish edtech startup Edpuzzle lets teachers create engaging remote-learning tools from easily accessible online videos
The closure of schools around the world due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is driving a sudden expansion in distance learning. In response, Spanish-US video learning software startup Edpuzzle has released its intermediate service plan free of charge to teachers and schools everywhere.
Already experiencing solid growth before the coronavirus outbreak, Edpuzzle is a cloud-based SaaS platform that allows videos on platforms like YouTube to be edited and transformed into educational tools. To date, it has been used by teachers in more than 150 countries who have created more than 8m video lessons used by over 35m students.
Edpuzzle allows online videos to be turned into distance learning resources which can be assessed and graded by teachers in real-time. Teachers simply select an online video, upload it the Edpuzzle platform and use its edit function to crop it and add questions, notes or voice-overs. When the lesson is ready, teachers assign a completion date and share it with classes using a share code. Teachers can view student results such as the number of correct answers and the time taken to complete the task. Results are automatically stored and can be exported into an online grade book.
The United Nations' education body, UNESCO, has included the platform in a list of recommended distance learning tools for teachers during the coronavirus pandemic. The education sector's best-known international publication, TES, has also recommended the tool as being especially useful to due to its interactive features. As a result, the company's social media feeds are filling up with praise from teachers who are using Edpuzzle to create lessons.
In normal times, Edpuzzle allows teachers free access to the platform to create and store a limit of 20 videos. Edpuzzle has released its ProTeacher plan free-of-charge to teachers from schools that are closed or likely to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company says the policy will remain in place until at least June; it allows unlimited teacher sign-ups per school and gives them unlimited cloud storage for video lessons created.
From imagination to Imagine K12
Founded in 2014 by four Catalonian childhood friends — CEO Quim Sabrià, CTO Santi Herrero, Head of Product Jordi González and Chief Development Officer Xavier Vergés — Edpuzzle was inspired directly by the need of teachers to better engage students, and especially by the need to reach absentee students. A teacher himself, Sabrià had regularly discussed such problems with his friends the previous year when they met in their native Barcelona. Edpuzzle was born when the group decided to help Sabrià create a web page for tailor-made educational videos.
But like many startups, Edpuzzle had a somewhat rocky start. The founding team scrapped its original project after it was rejected by Catalonian authorities in 2013 due to low user numbers. Forced back to the drawing board, the team's light-bulb moment came when they realized that to really engage students, the software should be interactive and allow teacher's voices to be incorporated into the program.
The new idea quickly caught the attention of US edtech incubator Imagine K12 (now part of Y Combinator) which invited the Edpuzzle team to San Francisco before they had developed even a basic product or written a line of code.
Edpuzzle credits Imagine K12 as being vital to its successful development. The incubator invested $100,000 in the company in exchange for 6% equity, enabling Edpuzzle to begin product development. The team brainstormed their ideas with 10 teachers and started building Edpuzzle during their three-month stay in San Francisco.
Unusually for a Spanish startup, Edpuzzle decided to split its founding team between San Francisco and Barcelona, seeking funding in the US and developing the product in Spain where costs are lower.
Shortly after its Imagine K12 incubation, Edpuzzle secured a $800,000 seed funding round that was supported by Silicon Valley VCs Rocketship and Fresco Capital, and angel investors Umang Gupta, who wrote the first business plan for Oracle Corporation, Y Combinator President and Yahoo! Mail creator Geoff Ralston and Y Combinator Partner Tim Brady.
The US soon became the company's biggest market with the platform used by educators in all 50 states. Edpuzzle has not sought funding since August 2016, when it secured $3m in Series A funding from Rocketship, which led the round, Fresco Capital and Paxion Capital Partners.
As it exists today, Edpuzzle is compatible with common web platforms used by schools. Its easy-to-create video tutorials work on common desktop and mobile platforms, facilitating student access and sharing among teachers from different educational bodies.
There is also a Premium version that gives school districts the ability to streamline curriculums and all teachers within the district shared access to their resources on teaching platforms like Google Classroom, Moodle and Blackboard.
Winner of the Global Edtech Awards in 2014, the company has 27 full-time employees in Barcelona and San Francisco and is growing its development team in the Catalonian capital. In addition to its early US success, the company is planning international expansion and remains particularly focused on developing the Spanish market.
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