Originally published: Fast Company, October 1, 2020
With schools around the world experimenting with digital learning as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, edtech companies see an opportunity to expand their reach.
Today, education startup Altitude Learning announced that it has agreed to merge with the U.S.-based arm of itslearning, a European learning management system that serves hundreds of thousands of students and is looking for a larger foothold in North America. The combined organization will be able to offer K12 schools options for both classroom management and personalized learning, adaptable to in-person or remote teaching scenarios.
“We’ve been dabbling in this direction for a long time, but it all started moving a lot faster once coronavirus hit,” says Altitude chief impact and chief academic officer Devin Vodicka. “They’re very aligned philosophically in this idea that you want to give students visibility and ownership into their progress.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Altitude, a certified B Corporation previously known as AltSchool, was founded in 2013 and has raised $176 million in venture funding from backers including Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund. In recent years, the company has shifted course away from its original plan to open private “micro-schools” in favor of doubling down on its technology offering.
Use of Altitude’s platform, which facilitates personalized learning by allowing teachers to create varied pathways for students to follow, went “through the roof” in the spring as schools shut their doors, says Vodicka.
Now, in addition to building on that momentum with this transaction, the company is positioning itself as an adviser to schools looking for remote learning best practices. Altitude has teamed up with partners including Getting Smart and Digital Promise to form a coalition called Moving Forward Together, which is collaborating with school leaders at the state and district level on distance learning solutions. The company has also been leading virtual workshops and publishing a newsletter with partners including Design 39 Campus and Education Reimagined.