The explosion of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and the rise of e-learning platforms like Coursera and Udemy has changed the way both students and lifelong learners learn online. Today it was announced that education search platform Noodle, which was founded by Princeton Review and 2tor (now 2U) founder John Katzman in 2011, is acquiring Lore, an education-focused social network, for an undisclosed amount.
Formerly called Coursekit, Lore was founded in May 2011 and started off by focusing on connecting people in individual classes, letting professors create classes and invite their students. The company added $5 million in funding in January 2012, and rebranded to Lore in April 2012. It launched new features for students in August 2012 to make it easier for students to create groups that aren’t necessarily tied to a specific course, for example creating study groups or groups based on faculties with students who might not be in the same courses. Students can follow professors and other students, and build an academic profile that acts as almost a resume for their career at that academic institution.
“We started with courses as the smallest unit [for education-based networking], and we’re now recognizing that students don’t just learn from courses, they also learn from groups they’re in,” Lore’s Marketing & Operations chief Hunter Horsley said in an interview last summer. The company now reports it has hundreds of educational institutions using the platform
Whereas Lore is the “virtual campus” where students can hang out and network, Noodle is a recommendation engine that helps students and anyone else find classes, tutors, materials, and other education opportunities online. The company says it compiles data on over 150,000 schools and education providers, matching users with relevant classes after they take an online survey.
The acquisition makes sense since both companies are trying to provide resources for students, with Noodle helping them find the right courses and materials, and Lore trying to connect them with other students and their professors. Katzman said the companies will exist as sister entities, with Noodle continuing to provide an education search engine, and Lore building out a new business unit that Inside Higher Ed reported will be called Noodle Launch, and will provide online services to schools (though no details have been released yet).
Lore’s platform is free for both educators and students, and Horsley said previously they would not pursue advertising as a monetization strategy, but rather look at selling textbooks. Noodle is also free, and Katzman said in a blog post announcing the acquisition that both platforms will remain free to the end user. How Katzman will monetize both platforms will likely dictate how they’re adopted within schools, since right now they’re taking a bottom-up approach, getting students and teachers using the platform rather than selling at an institutional level.
With lots of activity in the edtech space, from learning management systems like Canvas to classroom resources like Top Hat Monocle, not to mention Coursera and others, Noodle has a lot of competition for educators’ and students’ attention. With Katzman’s experience in the space and Lore’s tech, Noodle should at least be able to get in the door for discussions about its new line of business, and it can keep building its student user base in the meantime.
Lore didn’t respond to a request for an interview, and Noodle’s team wasn’t available by press time.