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Deal Radar 2008: Studywiz Spark

Posted on Thursday, Dec 11th 2008

In today’s second installment of the Deal Radar, we’ll also cover an online learning tool for K-12 education, Studywiz Spark. A service of Etech Group, Studywiz Spark was created by Geoff Elwood.

Elwood, whose background is in electronic engineering, has over 20 years’ experience working globally with information technology and education. After establishing Etech as a respected Australian software developer, Elwood modified the company’s business strategy to become a leader in online learning software development. Etech now has business in over 24 countries, with offices in Hong Kong, St. Petersburg, London, Palo Alto and New Jersey, along with Development and Support Centres in Melbourne and Hobart, Australia.

In 1999, a group of Hong Kong primary schools approached Etech Group to develop a learning platform to create and disseminate materials online to students quickly and easily. From this, Studywiz Spark came into being; the program is now used in 26 countries and has been translated into half a dozen languages.

Studywiz Spark provides an online space for teachers to collect, organize and manage curricula. Its powerful assessment and collaborative tools help improve individual and class-wide instruction and support parental participation in learning. It works on any platform – Mac, Windows or Linux – and complies with global standards such as SCORM, Shibboleth and SIF.

The company claims that Studywiz Spark is the only learning platform with a dedicated new interface for different stages of primary learning. It also allows schools to run multiple skin packs within one deployment, making it easier to personalize for students with special needs or multiple language needs.

Studywiz Spark’s 9.3 release, launched in April 2008, offers features such as a dedicated mobile and primary interface and the latest Web 2.0 collaboration tools, including student-rated galleries. Further, its mobile interface for the Apple iPhone, iTouch and Nokia N800 and other mobile devices enables users to access learning anytime, anywhere.

However, what makes Studywiz Spark unique is that it is designed specifically for K-12 schools with a global footprint. It is the only non-European product selected by the British Education Communications Technology Agency (BECTA) to be one of ten products approved for purchase by 29,000 government schools in the UK. Further, the Cayman Islands Ministry of Education has implemented Studywiz countrywide in all government schools. The company, however, did not provide details on the number of schools that have chosen Studywiz.

Etech estimates that the potential market size in the US is 120,000 schools with 55 million students, the UK 29,000 schools with 8.5 million students, Australia Pacific 10,000 schools with 3 million students and international 4,500 schools with 500,000 students. Further, Etech aims to be the dominant player in the US market, which is estimated at approximately $250-$300 million. Studywiz Spark is one of the top three market leaders in the UK. Etech did not share any revenue information or any other information.

With heavy investment in product development and R&D and strategic alliances with content and service providers including Apple Inc, Microsoft SharePoint, Edustructures and ClickView, the company has strengthened its market positioning. Studywiz Spark has received major education and innovation awards in the US, the UK and Australia, including the Technology & Learning 2008 Award of Excellence in the US. It was the recipient of the Handheld Learning Award for Innovation in the UK, the iAward for Inspiration “Best ICT Company” and the iAward for Education and Training in Australia.

Etech has raised $9.4 million so far through government funding and private investments. In 2004, it received $600,000 and in 2005 another $2 million in funding from the Tasmanian State Government in Australia. Etech Group raised another $5 million in 2007. In 2008, the company got another $1.8 million from the Tasmanian State Government to support the development of the Studywiz mobile learning interface and content.

Etech is looking to raise more money in 2009 and faces one of the worst fund-raising markets in history. However, the company seems to have enough validation under its belt to be able to get some traction on the fund-raising front.

Related readings:
*Education & Technology: Now Is the Time – HotChalk CEO Edward Fields
*The Education Problem: Raj Reddy
*Vision India 2020: Lucid

This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2008


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