Skillshare launched its online classes to give those interested in continuing to learn outside the classroom a place to go for classes that took place both online, and in their local hoods. Since then, the New York-based startup has moved towards the massive, open online course approach, giving teachers and subject experts the opportunity to create courses and students the opportunity to take interactive classes online.
Skillshare’s growth has accelerated since, with over 100K paid enrollments in over 500 classes, while the platform’s most successful teacher in 2013 made over $100K from teaching on Skillshare — a number which Seth Godin broke in January. Thanks to this continued growth and monetization, the startup has officially closed a $6 million round of financing co-led by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital. The new funding brings Skillshare’s total to $10 million.
With its live, interactive classes, Skillshare is part of a growing set of companies focused on leveraging improved video and communications technology to make continuing education and learning affordable and available to anyone. Though unlike video-based education platforms like Lynda.com, CreativeLive, Khan Academy and Curious, for example, Skillshare’s classes are both live and interactive, enabling students to get face-to-face time with teachers via its online office hours and focus on learning through completing projects — not by earning a badge.
To capitalize on the growing demand for skills-based learning content, Skillshare operates as an open platform, allowing anyone to submit an application to bring their classes online. On Skillshare, teachers design classes and projects for their students will complete, offering online syllabi and lectures, and, in turn, students can participate in discussions, submit projects and receive feedback on their work.
But with its new capital under its belt, Skillshare is also expanding on the product side, as it recently launched an activity feed to give students the ability to track people, skills, teachers and projects across its platform. The idea is to turn Skillshare into a more active social community, where students get to know each other and build relationships, rather than just breeze through a week-long course and move on. With greater community interaction and engagement, the stickier the Skillshare experience becomes, or at least that’s what the team hopes.