Entrepreneurs are looking for ways to modernize some of education’s most conventional foundations, from flashcards to tutors to after-school activities, because of the pandemic’s resurgence.
These are not just any bets: they are unicorn-valued companies hoping to cash in on customers’ increasing digital use. The creative economy, which promises to enable artists to commercialize and democratize their interests while keeping their individuality, is rivaling the edtech sector’s growth.
The creator economy has exploded in the last year, both to an increase in demand for digital entertainment from at-home viewers and to a slew of new artists ready to fill the gap.
Finding a virtual reality solution to make online STEM lessons more realistic is a different nut to crack than combining all of a creator’s multiple revenue tactics into one platform. Nonetheless, in the last year, the two sectors have found common ground, as seen by the emergence of cohort-based class platforms.
Cohort-based platforms, in general, assist professionals in launching classes for their communities with no prior teaching experience necessary. The expert on-demand serves as a sounding board for the students as they progress through the program together (thus the term “cohort”).
It is a bet on education, but it also allows a person to demonstrate their commitment by putting all of their chips in the middle of the table rather than working for an institution. While the concept of professionals educating a group of people is not exactly new, it is getting a new lease on life thanks to a slew of new businesses.
Entrepreneurs and investors believe it is not just a simple overlap. Some fear that converting artists to educators may result in a flood of inexperienced instructors who lack a thorough knowledge of proper pedagogy, while others believe that true democratization of education necessitates a shift in who historically been granted the privilege to educate.
Many cohort-based platforms are forming around a more controversial, yet compelling, ethos: anyone can be a teacher. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) and traditional institutions built on the belief that students want to learn from accredited teachers, while many cohort-based platforms are forming around a more controversial, yet compelling, ethos: anyone can be a teacher. The notion of allowing individuals to profit from their skills is straight out of the creative economy playbook.
To put it another way, instead of persuading a college professor to teach in their spare time, what if you persuaded a great product manager at software firm to organize a class where they could share their ideas and trade secrets. It’s not just a hypothesis; it’s a venture-backed company.
Mighty Networks secured $50 million in a Series B funding round to enable its founders to offer classes. Nas Academy received $11 million last month to assist producers in launching their own MasterClass-style programs. Then there is Maven, a seed-stage edtech startup that received millions of dollars before it even had a name — and was the first to use cohort-based classrooms as a branding strategy.