Knewton Takes Second Step On Road To Disrupt Education: University Courses


Photo: First Round Capital

Knewton, a online test-prep startup based in New York, is now moving into university courses, VentureBeat reports.The company will power remedial maths programs for Arizona State University. Students who score below a certain threshold will be required to take Knewton’s course.

Knewton stands out from test-prep incumbents thanks to its “adaptive learning” technology, which adapts its teaching according to how you’re doing, and connects you with tutors who you can learn from through the internet. It makes sense to partner with universities at first, especially as they’re trying to cut costs because of the down economy.

We love this because we think higher education, and education more generally, is ripe for disruption, and technology and the internet can play a big role. There’s no obvious reason why education has to happen in a physical room with limited teachers. But consumer habits and preconceptions are hard to change and education, of course, is highly regulated and subsidized.

Knewton’s adaptive learning approach has a lot of potential. In theory at least, the more you use the service, the more it can learn about how you learn, and tailor and suggest courses for your profile. The problem with adaptive learning is that it only works best for disciplines, like sciences, where the components can be broken down in easily digested and regurgitated bits.

But it’s still an interesting and bold new move in a market ripe for disruption. Way to go.

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