5 Tech Companies Set to Impact Higher Ed in 2013

It's a great time to be in the education technology industry: venture capitalists have dropped a whopping $1.37 billion into the industry since 2011.That's a lot of cash, and a lot of opportunities for companies to seriously change the way we do education.
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It's a great time to be in the education technology industry: venture capitalists have dropped a whopping $1.37 billion into the industry between the second quarter of 2011 and the second quarter of 2012.

That's a lot of cash, and a lot of opportunities for companies to seriously change the way we do education. There are already plenty of promising startups impacting the industry, but which companies are set to be the big contenders in 2013? Here are four companies we expect will impact higher ed next year:

1. 2U

Formerly known as 2tor, 2U is the first startup of its kind to partner with top universities to offer full degree programs entirely on the Web. The company has raised an impressive $97 million in venture funding, positioning it as a key leader in the ed tech industry.

Founded in 2008, 2U has already partnered with the University of Southern California to help create its online Master of Arts in Teaching Degree, and has developed Georgetown University's online nursing program -- alongside additional programs at UNC-Chapel Hill, Washington University in St. Louis, George Washington University and American University. Equally impressive is 2U's recent announcement that it plans to partner with 10 universities across the country to offer rigorous, online, for-credit undergraduate courses through a consortium. 2U is one startup pushing online education into the mainstream, in large part due to the incredible technological learning infrastructure it offers to universities. We can expect to see big things from this company in the coming years.

Launched in 2011, EdSurge was founded by veteran journalists and education technology professionals. The company recently nabbed $400,000 in seed funding from investors including the Washington Post, and it's backed by finances from the Bill and Melina Gates Foundation.

EdSurge aims to act as an online hub that entrepreneurs can use to connect with educators using their products, and vice versa. The startup shares information on all things ed-tech via its website, newsletters, and events with the goal of bringing timely and reliable information to ed-tech entrepreneurs, investors, policy makers, and educators using their products. Although it's just recently launched, we can expect to see much more from this company as it expands its services.

Boasting $31 million in startup funding, Echo360 offers a variety of online and mobile tools for blended learning. Developed in partnership with the University of Western Australia, Echo360 recently snagged $450 million to fund an initiative that aims to reach 50 percent of U.S. college students in the next five years. The company also recently acquired ed-tech startup LectureTools Inc., its first public acquisition.

With one million students at 500 institutions already using its services today, Echo360's blended online and in-person learning techniques stand to revolutionize the ed-tech market.

Tons of searches are conducted on education topics every day--and this startup is moving to be the go-to site to meet that need. Noodle, founded in 2010 by the creator of the Princeton Review and 2U, Noodle has developed the most comprehensive, age-ubiquitous online search engine dedicated solely to educational topics. Users can search for all things education, from tutors to summer camps to MBA programs.

The site features over 170,000 education providers and has received millions in funding. With more and more students turning to the Web as a resource for educational info, Noodle is likely poised to make waves in 2013.

Although currently in beta, Always Prepped has raised an impressive $650,000 in startup funding. The company provides online tools to help manage student and classroom data, providing a single stream of imported data for teachers to analyze their students or classes. The platform also helps teachers to send real-time report cards with one click. Although it's been recently launched, this is one startup to watch throughout 2013.

The up-and-coming education technology industry--and the vast amount of capital pouring into the market--means there's lots of room for key players to emerge in the next few years. Watch as these promising companies continue to innovate, and keep your eyes open for even more key players in 2013.

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