When my family first got TiVo, it changed my life. I remember how powerful it felt as an eleven year-old kid to finally be able to watch shows that came on after my bedtime over and over again– and even be able to pause for snack breaks! What if you could use a similar technology to time-shift your classes too? You’d be able to view missed lessons, play them back as many times as you wanted, and use the videos to review before exams. You could learn course material on your own time at your own pace. You would even be able to review lessons months after classes ended and refresh your memory about what you’d learned in previous semesters. For at least a million college students, this is already a reality. Echo360, a software company based near Washington D.C., allows instructors to record classroom video and audio and then convert the recordings into digital modules that students can access on desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. The technology is already being used in at least 5,000 classrooms across the U.S. And thanks to a $31 million dollar investment from the Revolution Growth fund, Echo360 hopes to expand this number to a whopping 30,000 classrooms by 2017.
The fund, which currently has $450 million to invest in innovative businesses, was founded by AOL veterans Steve Case, Ted Leonsis, and Donn Davis, who were attracted to Echo360’s high growth potential. The four-year old company has already made a $33 million profit from licensing their software to higher education institutions. But although Echo360 owns 54% of its market, only 10% of universities and colleges in the United States are using Echo360. In the next five years Echo360 hopes to use the capital from Revolution to increase this percentage to have its technology in 50% of US classrooms. Additionally, Echo360 hopes to develop their product to better fit the the needs of primary, middle, and high school students.
Echo360 supports a “blending learning” or “flipped classroom” approach to education. Blended learning is a type of education that uses a combination of face to face instruction and recorded course material to enhance education. This way, technologies can help optimize the time that students spend with their professors and find ways to engage them on their own terms. The flipped classroom approach offers a way to extend learning beyond the classroom. As educators continue to learn how to integrate technology into their classrooms, technologies like Echo360 will be an important tool for helping education work at its highest potential.