Sunday, January 19, 2014

Iversity Brings MOOCs to Europe

Headquartered in Berlin, Germany, Iversity is Europe's answer to Coursera and Udacity. Iversity started out as a course management tool for students and teachers – co-founder Jonas Liepmann was frustrated with the digital infrastructure being used at educational institutions, so he applied for an EXIST-Founder Scholarship and received a €100,000 grant from the German Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. In 2011, after raising €1.1 million in funding from Frühphasenfonds Brandenburg, the Iversity team came across massive open online courses (MOOCs). Immediately recognizing the great potential of this new form of online education, the startup pivoted and decided to bring it to Europe.

Iversity currently offers various online courses, including gamification design, contemporary architecture, political philosophy, and design basics. Anyone with an Internet connection can take these free courses, which will provide European university credit points. So far, more than 250,000 students have taken a course on Iversity.

Composed of a diverse and dynamic staff, Iversity aims to improve the quality of teaching and learning and develop world-class courses that are effective and efficient. The startup makes it clear, however, that it is not here to replace traditional educational institutions; rather, Iversity exists to empower academia. The Iversity team wants to help the best professors reach more students and enable students of all ages to take classes from the best instructors in the world.

Though Iversity is relatively new to the world of MOOCs, managing director Hannes Klöpper believes their physical location gives them an advantage. “Unlike our colleagues in Silicon Valley, we are one to two hours away by plane from most major cities in Europe,” he says. “We are seeing the tremendous value that results from close interaction of those involved in course conceptualization and course production with the developers building the platform.”

Iversity is backed by Marcus Riecke, Masoud Kamali, and T-Venture.

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