Four Companies Bringing Higher Education to Mobile Devices

In this Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 picture, Tyrell Coley, 21, holds his iPhone displaying his Twitter account in the Queens boro
In this Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 picture, Tyrell Coley, 21, holds his iPhone displaying his Twitter account in the Queens borough of New York. As mobile technology puts computers in our pockets, Latinos and blacks are more likely than the general population to access the Web by cellular phones, and they use their phones more often to do more things. But now some see a new "digital divide" emerging _ with Latinos and blacks being challenged by more, not less, access to technology. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

There's no denying it: mobile devices are revolutionizing the way our students access higher education.

A visit to any institution of higher learning will show you that students are increasingly relying on their mobile devices for their daily lives. By the end of 2012, nearly 70 percent of college mobile phone users will own a smartphone. And when the Class of 2016 graduates, nearly 90 percent of college students in the U.S. will own a smartphone.

The numbers are truly staggering, and indicate a shift in the way companies are addressing the needs of technologically-savvy college students. Businesses are increasingly popping up to provide students with the resources they need to effectively manage their college lives on their mobile devices.

But which companies are leading the way? Below are four businesses to keep your eye on when it comes to bringing higher education to mobile platforms:

1. 2U

2U, formerly known as 2tor, is the first startup of its kind to deliver full degree programs online. The company has raised over $90 million in venture funding so far, and it has partnered with a slew of top educational institutions to develop their online degree programs. The startup, founded in 2008, helped the University of Southern California offer its Master of Arts in Teaching online, as well as Georgetown University's nursing program. It also just announced a plan to partner with 10 universities to launch a Semester Online program for undergrads.

The company is now paving the way on the mobile side of higher education, as well. It recently announced the second iteration of its mobile app for graduate students. Over half of MBA students at UNC use 2U's iOS app to connect with professors, check grades, organize assignments, and keep up with the curriculum. By allowing more students to earn their degrees in a way that suits them in an increasingly mobile world, 2U is poised for major success in the ed tech market in the coming years. 2. Blackboard

Founded in 1997, Blackboard has been a consistent winner in the realm of enterprise education software and technology. With acquisitions totaling $90 million, the company has been helping K-12 schools, universities, corporations, and government organizations to bring their learning online.

The company's Blackboard Mobile Learn platform allows students to learn on-the-go, helping them to access and organize their content from their iOS, Android, Blackberry, or WebOS devices. Students can even take tests from the platform, which is also integrated with Dropbox to help students manage their course documents. The Blackboard interface features a slew of other features to help students manage their academic lives at any time, from anywhere, making Blackboard a clear leader in ed tech innovation.

3. Verivo

With $17 million in venture capital funding, Verivo software has been busy creating mobile enterprise software for companies in numerous industries. Its higher education platform helps universities to build, deploy, and manage their mobile apps.

Verivo's mobile app platform for higher education provides students access to registration, grades, campus spending money, contact directories, dining hall menu and laundry machine updates, as well as alerts for class changes and cancellations. Its platform also provides information for alumn -- such as job openings and donation opportunities -- and allows faculty to manage their classes and assignments. Verivo's easy-to-use software is helping universities to leverage the power of mobile, making its use standard practice for faculty, students, and alumni alike.

4. Localist

Founded in 2010 with $300,000 in startup funding, Localist provides a software platform to universities with 2,000-30,000 students. The company helps universities to bring what was once a static listing of campus events to mobile devices, helping freshmen and other students to find out about the latest happenings at their schools.

Localist's Tailgate app, available for iPhone and Android, helps students to find events near them, manage their calendar, and check into events when they're already there. It also gathers event data from dozens of independent sources, like scheduling systems, saving time and money for administrators. By helping university students to access and organize campus events on their mobile devices, Localist is changing the dynamic for campus life.

Companies like the ones listed above prove that businesses are finally realizing they can capitalize on the tech-savvy college generation. The shift means we're likely to see even more startups catering to college students' mobile needs in the near future. As these companies continue to innovate, they stand to forever impact the way college students access and manage their education.