Article Published: November 2, 2015
Article Published: November 2, 2015
Michelle Szemanski, Work Hard PGH
What would you do with $9.75 million?
Adaptive learning platform company Acrobatiq plans to build the next generation of learning science.
Acrobatic recently received $9.75 million in Series A funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, Draper Triangle Ventures and Hearst Ventures, marking a vote of confidence in the potential of adaptive courseware and in its unique approach to higher education.
While Acrobatiq opened shop in 2013, its courseware draws from more than 12 years of research from Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI). The OLI conducts cognitive studies to clarify the science of how people learn. Acrobatiq embodies the next evolutionary phase of learning science, taking research from the academic realm to real-time application.
“Acrobatiq aims to break the Iron Triangle of higher education: the interrelation of cost, access and quality,” says Acrobatiq CEO Eric Frank. “By reducing the cost, you decrease quality. By increasing access, you raise the cost. Under the traditional classroom format, you can’t scale up without compromising in one area or another.”
For students and teachers, Acrobatiq’s adaptive courseware means much more than uploading presentation slides to the cloud. Instead, Acrobatiq’s online courses draw from the cognitive underpinnings of long-term learning as discovered by OLI. The platform’s core methodology includes clear learning objectives, a balance of informational content and practice activities and follow-up review.
The platform also offers tiered hints and tracks data from each student and the overall class in an intuitive dashboard format. Instructors can instantly see where students are struggling and use the precious commodity of classroom time to focus on the weakest subject. Acrobatiq courseware can also be effectively used for online-only courses, but ideally lends itself to a hybrid learning format supplementing traditional time in the classroom.
Ten courseware products are available now, with 25 more in production for the near future. In addition to releasing more complete courseware products, Acrobatiq will also launch a platform service to put the power in the hands of the university to build custom courses. Instructors will be able to author their own lessons built on Acrobatiq’s learning format and tweak the course to suit their preferences or adapt to feedback throughout the semester. Part of the $9.75 million in funding will go into creating a seamless experience for instructor, student and university.
Ultimately, Acrobatiq hopes to change the way higher education scales to meet the needs of the students.
Using Acrobatiq’s courseware, faculty members can play more strategic roles, designing and driving the course while teaching assistants serve as touchstones for larger groups of students. While some instructors may pause at the idea of taking on more students, Acrobatiq’s hybrid structure allows teachers to not only expand access to more students without compromising quality or raising costs, but also to teach with less trial-and-error and have more meaningful impact. Personalized learning empowers students to achieve their academic goals no matter their circumstances, moving the chance to earn a degree within reach.
With more investors joining Carnegie Mellon University at the table in support of Acrobatiq’s development, universities, students and teachers alike can expect to see the adaptive learning platform company make its mark on higher education.
To learn more about Acrobatiq, visit http://acrobatiq.com/