The Top 30 Non-LMS EdTech Of 2021 So Far: The Quest To Revolutionize Education — Or Improve Things A Bit

The Top 30 Non-LMS EdTech Of 2021 So Far: The Quest To Revolutionize Education...

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The surprises and uncertainty set upon the elearning world early this year are behind us. We don’t understand the coronavirus very well, but we are certain on the best course of action. The next frontier: Increasing outcomes, lowering burdens, enhancing experiences. And according to organic search results, people seem to place their bets in the following companies most of all.

Based on the search engine data service we use to support our partners and their content marketing efforts, we provide a ranking according to their “domain quality.” Other EdTech companies may rank higher or more often on search results, in fact a general outcome of SEO\SEM is that ranking low for dozens or hundreds of highly targeted or “niche” terms tends to yield better results than being number one in broad categories (not to mention more expensive and risky); as it is the fact that being number one on search results doesn’t necessarily lead to more clicks.

We excluded Learning Management Systems, as we have covered them extensively, and plan on continuing doing so.

BONUS. KnowBox (Xiaohe Keji, 小盒科技) <60 monthly search traffic

K-12, AI, Online Tutoring

The latest in the mighty crush of Chinese EdTech, the startup formerly known as “Homework Box” is set for a stellar rise, backed by behemoths Baidu and Alibaba. Beginning as an interactive homework platform, Knowbox aims to build a series of assistive technologies fueled by AI to support the complete teacher and student cycle.

№30. Zuoyebang (作业帮) <100


The first unicorn on the list, Beijing-based Zuoyebang —not to be confused with 17 Zuoye— is already in nearly 400,000 schools with over 170 million users, the vast majority non-paying students. A spin-off of search giant Baidu’s Q&A forum and supported by SoftBank, it provides a deep mobile learning experience that provides assistant to students in practice and group discussion.

№29. Zhangmen ~100

K-12, Online Tutoring

Self declared “game changer,” the first online tutoring company in the list introduces many of the trends of modern times: Celebrity tutors, cinematic advertisements, and a message of brutal, high-stakes exams as a life challenge you are not facing alone. The Shanghai-based company, closely associated with the city’s elites, became a unicorn in 2017, surpassing 3 million users and a proprietary database of 7 million exercises.

№28. Yuanfundao ~100

K-12, Online Tutoring
At a valuation last April of $7.8 Billion USD, Yuanfudao is thriving amid the highly competitive online tutoring space. With more than 1 million paying users, it offers a varied portfolio of apps and subjects, including Zebra AI which teaches English to children ages 2 to 8. Video streaming appears to be one of its most salient features.

№27. TAL Education (好未来) — 147

K-12, Online Tutoring
Publicly listed on the New York Stock Exchange at a $47B valuation, “Tomorrow Advancing Life” is returning to a path of vigorous growth after a series of controversies involving “employee wrongdoing.” In addition to the run-of-the-mill live stream coaching services, the company is venturing into group sessions

№26. Huijang — 394

ESL, Online Tutoring
When the gig economy entered the classroom.
Another Shanghainese, and one of the most outward-looking Chinese companies in the list, Hujiang’s model is based on recruiting native English speakers to teach English as a Second Language to mainland students. From a simple tutoring solution, it continues to evolve, now featuring a news service and a series of tools to teach online.

№25. BYJU’S — 2.1K

K-12, Certifications, Exam Prep
A very special enty, BYJU’S – The Learning App is the first EdTech unicorn of India. A mobile app provides support for math and science subjects at all levels: K-12, national examinations including Higher Ed admissions, and even international examinations such as GRE and GMAT. Expect to see founder and billionaire tutor Byju Raveendran’s face in more magazine covers.

№24. HundrED — 4.3K

Non-profit, Think Tank
A sort of EdTech “Think Tank,” the only Finnish entry on the list offers a global mission and an ambitious attempt to identify, recognize and spread innovations. 1,945 identified so far, it’s success relies on a strong network that connects educators, innovators, funders and partners.

№23. iTutorGroup — 8.8K

ESL, Online Tutoring
Self-declare the “largest English learning organization in the world,” iTutorGroup is another entry in the business of gig economy for Western teachers servicing Chinese students. The unicorn is one of the longest ones standing, with thriving support communities and seemingly more transparent terms. See an example.

№22. Preply — 9.3K

ESL and Language Learning, Online Tutoring
An international twist on the online language tutoring model, Ukrainian-American Preply boasts a global army of tutors to offer live sessions from dozens of languages to students anywhere.

№21. Articulate — 12.9K

The omnipresent authoring tool comes strong with a high reputation among corporate settings, and compatibility with SCORM as a killer feature. At the time of writing, the product name is Articulate 360.

№20. Thinkific — 17.4K

Course Hosting & Marketing
A sleek take on the one-stop-shop for the busy teacher on the go, Thinkific gives you a free classroom with unlimited students. Upgrade to enjoy further marketing weapons. Short of an LMS proper, it aims to simplify design, e-commerce and course marketing with basic functionality in each dimension.

№19. K12 Inc — 17.6K

K-12, Online Curriculum, EMO/CMO
The Tuition-Free Online Public Schools App feels like made for the coronavirus. A for-profit Education Management Organization, K12 Inc. provides curricula to students at home and online. With public funding, it disputes a space with charter school in the U.S., specifically Charter Management Organizations. Publicly listed, and zig-zagging over the $2 Billion valuation, it’s not entirely free from controversies and criticism about quality, effectiveness and political influence. It looks like K12 was made for a situation like this one, which makes it all more intriguing why it has not taken off orders of magnitude higher.

№18. Teachable — 37K

Course Hosting & Marketing
It’s hard to tell Teachable and Thinkific apart. Other than the lack of a free tier, both are streamlined course creation and marketing tools.

№17. Tynker — 40.3K

The first coding entry is a playful, kid-oriented portal and app suite with interfaces designed for 3 different age groups, using either basic commands, Scratch or actual JavaScript and Python. Game modding is a particular specialty.

№16. Classcraft — 49.1K

The “gamified classroom management” app lets students create avatars and complete learning quests.

№15. Udacity — 90.8K

Course Hosting, Platform, MOOCs
The work skills oriented platform is undergoing a switch from courses into programs, sorry, NanoDegrees™, heavy on Computer Science and AI topics.

№14. Quizizz — 111.3K

It’s name may spoil the mistery. Quizizz has been one of the darlings of 2020, most likely thanks to being able to do one thing, and getting it right: Interactive quizzes. The integration with Google Classroom is icing on the cake.

№13. Microsoft Flipgrid — 115.6K

It’s hard to point out the focus and understanding of educational problems Microsoft has, and Flipgrip is the epitome of that. With video, mobile, social media —and as of late, AR— features, it has a lot that others don’t while remains an incomplete experience. Much like Microsoft’s elearning initiatives, Flipgrid is all over the place.

№12. VipKID — 116.6K

ESL, Online Tutoring
The more visible competitor to iTutorGroup, VipKID has grown a large base of U.S. teachers servicing Chinese students’ English. VipKID is the brainchild of Cindy Mi, entrepreneur who still leads the company, steering it into unicorn status.

№11. EdX — 189.4K

A quintessential MOOC platform, it offers over 2,500 courses, NanoDegrees™, MicroMasters™, MicroBachelors™, XSeries™ and more through university partners.

№10. Codecademy — 255.5K

The pioneer in interactive programming, it offers a web based development environment that reviews your homework in real time.

№9. Newsela — 288.9K

K-12, Online Textbooks
Provider of online textbooks.

№8. Course Hero — 314K

Online Textbooks
The company crowd-sources its materials, leading to inevitable legal, privacy and intellectual property squabbles, earning the inevitable nickname of “Course Villain.” Currently in the process of earning teacher’s favors and becoming a social network of sorts. Will it work? Colorado Boulder IT office is frank: “Like it or not, Course Hero and similar websites are probably here to stay. They’ve introduced an innovative product that will not stop here, but grow in the future.”

№7. Coursera — 358.8K

The pioneer in MOOC is alive and kicking despite the growing competition. Of course, like most idealistic EdTech, it had no choice but to revert their “Forever Free for All” plea to a nagging educommerce portal that tries to get you to buy at every turn. Still, it’s arguably deserving of its popularity, and the largest number of university partnerships of all MOOC platforms.

№6. Cengage — 436.3K

Online Textbooks
Offers digital as well as printed textbooks, including a subscription service.

№5. Pearson — 517.1K

Probably the most popular EdTech app of all time. Famous among other things for the memes about their hilarious fails, seemingly widespread through the land.

The post that started it all. from r/PearsonDesign

№4. Duolingo — 854K

Language Learning
With 300 million users worldwide, vast communities and evidence-based innovations in the science of language learning, Duo —the owl mascot— is an established entity in our digital culture.

№3. Udemy — 944.1K

Course Platform
The most popular platform for “Edupreneurs,” with a few enviable features and ease of use.

Pick The Best Plugins & Themes Of The Year And Win Lifetime Access To Stunning ‘Moodle Quick Bites’ Course

№2. Chegg — 1.7M

Online Textbooks
In addition to digital and physical textbooks rental, it offers online tutoring and supporting services.

№1. Quizlet — 3.3M

In 2015, Quizlet was the fastest growing education site in the U.S. Earlier this year, it achieved unicorn status.


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