Baltimore is Booming with Startups Tackling the Education Space

February 20, 2013

11:00 am

Baltimore’s growing startup scene is tackling the education space with three companies that were featured recently at Tech Cocktail events.

With more than a decade of experience in instructional technology and online learning at Johns Hopkins University (which just scored a $350 million donation from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg), Babson College, and education technology company Blackboard, Robert Kearns saw the need for a platform that gathered student feedback throughout a course, as opposed to only at the course’s conclusion.

The result is Course Canary, a startup founded by Kearns, who taught himself to program. Course Canary creates tools for instructors in online or tech-enabled courses to gather student feedback. The logic is that if instructors can adjust their teaching style mid-semester, as opposed to when students are already home for the summer, learning outcomes will be improved.

Instructors can also use Course Canary to implement “exit ticket surveys,” or assessment tools designed to gauge feedback at the conclusion of every class period.

Founded in 2011, Dormify is a startup that’s taking on Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, and other big box retailers that have traditionally outfitted the dorms and apartments of school-bound college students. Dormify’s online boutique, which curates dorm and apartment furnishings and licensed sorority gear, is coupled with a blog that provides style advice from its network of collegiate contributors.

The company is backed by $750,000 in seed funding, and though Dormify plans to fundraise in 2013, Head of Business Development and Operations Nicole Gardner tells me Dormify is “on the path to profitability this year.”

A third Baltimore-area startup looking to cash in on the college experience is Offer ‘n Buy, which is attempting to overthrow Craigslist as the online campus marketplace for products and services. The website is still in beta and is limiting early access to those with a .edu email address.

The service will include private messaging features and location-based search. Unlike Craigslist, Offer ‘n Buy’s product and service listings will have an option to incorporate video. Offer ‘n Buy is slated for a spring 2013 launch.

These three startups showcased at the Tech Cocktail Baltimore Mixer in October.

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Andrew Cross is a Tech Cocktail contributor and an account director at Walker Sands Communications in Chicago, where he handles PR strategy and media relations for tech companies. He covers tech startups, particularly those based out of the Midwest. Contact Andrew at andrewrcross AT gmail DOT com or on Twitter @Andrew_R_Cross.

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