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2tor raises $26M to revamp online college education

Series D financing comes from the Hillman Company, and new investors SVB Capital, WestRiver Capital

Financial trends and news by Bambi Francisco Roizen
April 2, 2012 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/25a0

Education in general is in need of an overhaul. It's no wonder that companies continually receiving private funding to revamp the online offerings to change the way we educate our children.

Landover, MD- bsaed 2tor announced Monday that it's closed $26 million in Series D financing, led by an affiliate of the Hillman Company, including new investors SVB Capital and WestRiver Capital, and existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Highland Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Novak Biddle Venture Partners and City Light Capital. The fresh capital brings 2tor's total amount of financing from the venture community to just under $97 million. 

"The way we approach [the program] is that it takes $10 million in investor program to get going," said Chip Paucek, CEO and co-founder of 2tor, in an interview with me. That's the reality of how much it costs to represent the quality of learning at the institution, he added. Each program is customized and tailored to each school's needs.

Paucek is no stranger to education. Prior to finding 2tor, he was the CEO of Hooked on Phonics, which teaches children how to read, and co-founder of Cerebellum Corporation, the company behind Standard Deviants, an award-winning educational television program.

"There are four pillars asssoicated with every program," he said. Firstly, 2tor doesn't believe in talking heads to educate. "If you want to teach someone how to deliver a baby, we show them how to deliver a babay. You don't sit and watch a lecture," he said. Secondly, all students attend classes weekly with about 10 other students. The class attendance is recorded, just like a typical on-campus class. The third pillar is a social network called 2U, which is more like Facebook than a traditional Learning Management System, built by companies like Blackboard. Fnally, 2tor helps the students get placed in in-field work. If USC requires a student to have teaching experience, 2tor witll work to place the student and record that experience to share with a teacher or fellow classmates.

So far so good. While 2tor's program is relatively young, it already has a graduating class out of USC, that far exceeds the number of on-campus students. The number of on-campus students at USC's Social Work program is under 100. By adding the online course, USC was able to expand the number of students to 2500. And, how's the online program doing in comparison? "The retention and job placement rates have been equivalent to the on-campus program," said Paucek.

(image source: onlineuniversities.com)


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