MasterClass, a San Francisco-based online education platform that’s luring some of the most talented professionals in their respective fields to teach, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by New Enterprise Associates.

Javelin Venture Partners also joined the round, which follows a previously undisclosed $4.5 million Series A led by Javelin. Other investors in the company include Bloomberg Beta, Novel TMT Ventures, Advancit Capital, Harrison Metal, WME Ventures, Downey Ventures, and numerous individual investors, including Casper CEO Philip Krim.

What investors are backing is certainly interesting.

MasterClass, which charges $90 for each “MasterClass,” currently features five options, including five hours of acting class that are taught by Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman; two hours of advanced tennis techniques taught by tennis great Serena Williams; 22 lessons on writing taught by bestselling author James Patterson; and 16 video lessons by entertainer Usher on the art of performance.

The newest “master class” is an acting class by Oscar winner Kevin Spacey (perhaps for those who’ve already seen Dustin Hoffman’s tricks and are eager to learn more). It debuts today, to be followed soon with singing lessons by the Grammy-award-winning singer Christina Aguilera.

MasterClass cofounders Aaron Rasmussen and David Rogier — who met on a “friend date” years ago — say the idea for MasterClass sprang from a small dinner that featured as its guest of honor the computing pioneer Alan Kay.

Says Rasmussen, “It was one of the most perspective-altering conversations we’d ever had . . . and it only happened for 10 people.” Later, the two started to think more seriously about whether a person could be placed into an intimate conversation – a “teaching moment” – with some of the most skilled people in the world.

With exactly one connection to Hollywood types – Rogier was friends with Dustin Hoffman’s daughter — the friends began making calls from a borrowed office space in 2013; not long after, Jay Roach (of “Meet the Parents” fame) was filming Dustin Hoffman for MasterClass. Soon after came James Patterson, whose class was filmed by a two-time award-winning director named Bill Guttentag. And so on. (In fact, the New York Times reported on thenetworking prowess of Rogier in particular last fall.)


Asked about the financial arrangement between the startups and its famous participants, Rasmussen and Rogier offer simply that “if a class is successful, they are successful.” They also note that some of the talent gravitating to the platform, including Spacey and Usher, are also investors in the company.

They also decline to say how many people have now taken a class, or how many have signed up for more than one class, saying only that they have “substantially more” registered users than the 30,000 cited in a September report about the startup.

Their new funding should help, either way. The pair, who currently employ 22 people, say they hope to film between 10 and 15 more classes in 2016, even if those classes aren’t available until next year owing to post-production.

They plan to keep the price point reasonable, too. “David and I are serious about democratizing access to genius,” says Rasmussen.

He notes that throughout history, so-called masters have taught apprentices, “but it’s been two people or maybe a handful at most, and typically people who were chosen based on their social status or political connections.”

MasterClass meanwhile is giving today’s masters a way to memorialize what they’ve learned, while also giving them a venue to share stories, insights, and advice with anyone in possession of a computer, $90, and several hours to spare.

-For more information, visit


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Many learning and training professionals are, by now, familiar with the term “MOOC,” but the truth of the matter is that MOOC is only the beginning when classifying technology-friendly modes of learning and training.

MOOC, of course, stands for Massive Open Online Course. The importance of this course is that it is open to a lot of people — students or employees — at the same time. MOOCs represent a distance-based approach to e-learning wherein many learners may participate in a collaborative and interactive fashion. Course contents are distributed using a Web platform under a per-course or subscription model. The unique features of MOOCs include mass participation, social collaborations, interactive forums, and open-ended outcomes. MOOC adoption employs various technologies and solutions including Big Data, analytics, gamification and Cloud.

There are a few key market factors to consider with MOOCs, including low-cost certification, leveraging various technologies (data; smartphone, tablet and wearable device proliferation; and flexible learning experience), cost reductions for corporate training and others. Arguably, one of the main growth drivers of today's MOOC industry is cost reduction for learning and development (L&D) programs at major corporations.

Similarly, COOC stands for Corporate Open Online Course, which is self-explanatory. They’re MOOCs for businesses large and small.

SPOC stands for Small Private Open or Online Course. Contrary to MOOC and COOC, the aim of a SPOC is to offer a small group of people a tailor-made course. University of California Berkeley Prof. Armando Fox coined the word in 2013 to refer to a localized instance of a MOOC course that was in use in a business-to-business context.

SPOCs support blended learning and flipped classroom learning, which variously combine online resources and technology with personal engagement between faculty and students. Early research results point to improved learning and student outcomes using such approaches, as pointed out by Will Oremus in a Slate magazine article. They can include video lectures, assessments (with immediate feedback), interactive labs (with immediate feedback) and discussion forums such as those used in MOOCs.

Reiterating, the target audiences for these three online courses are very broad: individuals, students and workers enrolled by their companies. Their main advantage is that learners can register just by clicking online. They can train, whenever they want to from home, and they no longer have to go out. A lot of people who are at work all day are now able to train this way in the evenings.

Basically, the aim of all three — MOOCs, COOCs and SPOCs — is to offer free training. When you produce a video for an online course, there is no difference in the cost whether it is watched by one person or thousands.
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Every day new learning technologies and practices are born. Which are fads and what have staying power?

Join Catherine Upton in this session when she reveals the results of the E-learning User Trends Study.  What drives investment in learning and development. Which tools are learning leaders investing in and why?

Catherine will also be joined by Becky Sterling who will discuss several e-learning trends, predictions and practices.  Share insights with Becky who is on the front lines of development and implementations. Bring your questions and challenges to share and discuss: The role of e-Learning in the consumerized world, Learner-directed learning and enablement, Evolution of learning ecosystems, and how to leverage technologies to create the engaged workplace.


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Austin, Texas-based will be expanding internationally, offering a variety of I.T. courseware and certifications in Canada. This expansion comes as part of's commitment to creating learners for life and expanding the reach of its eLearning Marketplace, an online training platform with a comprehensive course catalog.

This expansion will bring online, on-demand, and instructor-led I.T. curriculum to remote communities and rural centers and improve productivity from coast to coast.

Travis Lindgren will be leading this expansion, having previously held the role of president of Learning Tree International and as a vice-president of CDI Education Corp., now Global Learning.


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The newest release of BizLibrary’s learning management system (LMS) is now available to all of BizLibrary’s existing and new clients.

The BizLibrary LMS represents a major step forward in learning technology, with the introduction of an innovative and dynamic recommendation engine that helps create personalized learning environments for each end user.

The system is also fully responsive to help maximize the effectiveness, convenience and reach of the BizLibrary Collection of thousands of online training videos, so employees have unlimited access to content on any device at any time.

Other important innovations include enhanced catalog browsing and search capabilities, a new and improved in-line course player, and a wholly redesigned learner and team administration section and learning activity progress activity dashboard.

The new platform is a completely responsive design so it will automatically re-size to fit any device or screen. It looks great on desktops, laptops, tablets and phones, making the learning experience 100% mobile.

—More info:


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A couple of new HRCI approved course packages called Smart HRCI Bundles are being launched by The online trainings contain bundled courses for Human Resources (HR) professionals who want to take the PHR or SPHR certification exams or those who already hold a PHR, SPHR, HRBP or HRMP certification and want to renew their 3-year cycle.

The courses in the new bundles offer both “General” and “Strategic” type of HRCI credits, and among others cover the following topics:

>> Human Resources Core Knowledge: Skills, Concepts, Tools, Functions and Activities

>> Business Management and Strategy: Role of HR in the Business Strategic Planning Process.

>> Workforce Planning and Employment: Legislation, Recruitment Strategies, Sourcing and Selecting Candidates, Orientation, Onboarding, and Exit Strategies.

HR Development: Regulations and Organizational Development, Employee Training, Performance Appraisal and Talent Management.

—More info:


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The top four emerging trends driving the virtual schools market in the U.S., according to education research analysts at Technavio, are:

1) Implementation of user-friendly Web conferencing solutions

Virtual school market vendors are developing Web conferencing solutions that are easy to use and priced as per customer requirements in order to gain a larger market share. The complexity of Web conferencing products increases with rise of integrated features and may decrease its implementation. Therefore, major vendors in the market are developing user-friendly solutions.

2) Advances in technology

Virtual schools providers deliver content based on new and unique technological tools such as learning management system (LMS), learning content management system (LCMS), and other authoring tools and software. The increased use of SaaS and Cloud-based LMS make the management and delivery of course content, easy and smooth. The U.S. government is also actively promoting the use of e-textbooks, graphics, and other interactive digital content to enhance the learning experience, primarily in the K-12 segment.

3) Increased demand for distance learning

The report also emphasizes the rise in demand for distance learning, which offers opportunities for people worldwide, particularly for those that find it difficult to attend universities because of financial, geographical, or scheduling reasons. Most of the distance education content is delivered online or in the packaged form of books and CDs. However, virtual schools help in delivering content in a synchronous environment and are gradually taking over other traditional modes.

4) High adoption rate of tablets

Tablets are overtaking notebooks and desktop PCs, as they have touch-screen options, are lightweight, are economically priced, and offer more benefits as a mobile computing device. Vendors are currently manufacturing tablets that incorporate features that are suitable to the needs of students and teachers. In 2013, the U.S. accounted for approximately 69% of the total education tablets market and experienced a consumption of 5.6 million units.

—More info:


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A new report, “The Consumer Learner at Work,” suggests L&D teams need to be aware of the importance of having easy access to practical learning that will add value to their lives. Of those sampled, 70% were motivated by technologies that allow them to network and connect with each other, 90% download apps to further their learning, 50% are education-based, and 49% are productivity tools.

Here are a few insights covered in the report:

>> Workers have a positive outlook on the value of online learning: 80% can see how online learning can help them further their career; 70% think that it has a positive impact on their job performance.

>> Workers know more about what they need than most L&D teams give them credit for: 88% know what learning they need, but only 42% agree that their company provides relevant online learning for their job.

>> Workers overcome challenges of access, but struggle with supply: 53% find location or I.T. is a barrier to learn online, so they are turning to mobile, with 64% saying accessing learning from a mobile device is essential/very useful; 29% find online content uninspiring

>> Workers do not consider the course as the only option: 77% rate working in collaboration with others as essential/very useful.

>> Workers turn to technology for convenience and connectivity: 89% are downloading apps - e.g. for education (50%) and productivity tools (49%).

>> Workers value personal experience for personal gain: 57% want learning to contribute towards a qualification or certification.

>> Managers play a crucial role: 31% say that support from their managers is critical to a smooth and successful online learning experience.

The report was produced by England-based Towards Maturity in conjunction with learning provider Filtered. It surveyed 2,000 potential workers about their aspirations and the experience of learning in the workplace.

—More info:


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ej4 creates award-winning content based on the 4 “J’s”: just as needed, just enough, just in time, and just right. This content is delivered through short, tactical videos designed to teach new skills and change behaviors through an engaging delivery style based on adult learning methodology. ej4’s content library contains more than 1,500 courses with new and updated content every month.

ej4’s off-the-shelf e-learning is more than a video learning library. It offers a collection of proven solutions that are built with instructional design specific for e-learning in today’s multi-platform mobile workforce. The current and future business environment demands tools that are quick, strategic, and accessible on all devices. ej4’s content delivers in all areas.

ej4 provides your company with an immediate solution that employees can use to get the information they need while being back to work in 10 minutes or less. Plus, with ej4’s Thinkzoom platform, you have the ability to personalize the learning with your own custom video.

ej4 bridges the gap between potential and results. It offers:

>> More than 1500 courses on everything from sales, compliance, I.T. training and general soft skills for every business 
>> Content that is delivered through any device or platform 
>> Professionally created videos that are informative and up-to-date 
>> A customizable learning management system (Thinkzoom) 
>> Dedicated learning professionals to support your business 
>> Complete custom videos for your unique needs


Off the Shelf Videos - At ej4, e-learning is done a little differently. While the company does offer hundreds of e-learning courses on topics like Management, Productivity, Anti-Harassment and Customer Service, it looks for the business need first. It analyzes your problems and builds solutions that fit your needs.

ej4’s libraries of courses consist of readyto-use solutions for your organization’s specific needs. They are broken up by topic in Business Skills, Workplace Compliance and Microsoft Office that can be deployed on any platform.

LMS Platform - Thinkzoom by ej4 is more than a learning management system. It’s a powerful knowledge-sharing platform tool for a customized user experience. Thinkzoom is an easy-to-use platform that allows you to record, edit, track and share your company-specific knowledge that integrates seamlessly with all ej4 content.

Custom Videos - There are times when an off-the-shelf course does not effectively teach an industry-specific skill or communicate your company message. Partner with ej4 to create custom e-learning videos that are short, to-the-point, and communicate YOUR message.

Support - It’s easy to get started using the ej4 solution. You can be up and running in a few days. Its team of dedicated learning professionals partner with you to ensure your learning program meets the needs of your learners.


ej4 has customers that cover the spectrum in size, industry and products. To name a few: Goodwill, TigerDirect, First American Title, Allison Transmission, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper Snapple, Mahindra, Wells and Community Coffee.


>> Dr. Pepper Snapple Group: “At Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, we needed to take the disciplines and common practices that we wanted to instill to over 20,000 employees across 250 locations. Using ej4, we were able to achieve these goals in a quick, efficient, and effective manner.” 
>> Greatcall: “With ej4, course completion rates have increased over 80 percent, and employees continually request additional professional development.”


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Sales: (800) 566-3159 
Headquarters: (314) 878-6700 
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Published in New Products

Don’t Have C-Level Support for Your Training Programs? Here’s How to Get It.

There are very few absolutes in the world of employee training and development. However, one thing is true for all organizations: Without visible and substantive executive-level support, employee training efforts rarely deliver significant business benefits or ROI.

One of the foundational challenges for HR and learning professionals is building and then maintaining executive level support for investments in employee training. Here are some suggestions to help:


We are not using the buzzword “alignment” here for a very specific reason. “Alignment” has largely ceased to have any real meaning. It might have meant something once. But now people just toss around the term casually to suggest some kind of connection, but people don’t typically associate it with action — which should be an active pursuit.

Identify what your organization needs to achieve in the coming year. Make sure your employee training program is designed to help departments, teams and employees improve mastery of competencies, skills and behaviors that will help your organization reach its goals. Remember: If you don’t have clear goals, you will not have any idea where you are going; and if you don’t know where you are going, any place will do.


Quit thinking about needs analysis, and start conducting performance-gap analysis. If you ask sales managers what training they need, they will inevitably tell you they need sales training. What does that really tell you? What specific behaviors need to be improved to close the gap between the current level of performance and the desired level of performance? Do sales reps need better phone skills? Do they need better negotiation skills? Do they need better presentation skills?

Ask for a clear description of the desired state of performance, and compare that to the current level of performance. Next, analyze the behaviors that need to improve that will close the gap between these two states of performance. Using these behaviors as your guide, identify the competencies, skills and knowledge that must be improved to close the gap. This analysis must be ongoing to close gaps and begin building a series of continuously improving employees, teams and departments.


The first two steps are designed to answer a foundational question: “What will success look like?” Now it’s time to answer this question: “How will we know if it works?” Executives need to know that their investments will yield returns and deliver business benefits such as reduced costs or increased revenues. We must learn to translate our employee training language into the vocabulary of business for executives.

Linking training initiatives to business goals and working to improve behaviors to close the performance gaps you’ve identified puts you in a position to do exactly that. If the organization wants to increase customer retention and you’ve identified the performance gaps and behaviors that need to improve to drive an increase, you can deliver a report linking your training efforts to a percentage increase in customer retention. Each customer retained has a dollar value. Know what that is, and report it. Now you are delivering a report in the vocabulary of executives, proving the value of employee training. The objective is to make a similar link for every initiative you start.

These three steps, taken in this order, will help you get and keep C-level support for your employee training programs. Deliver real business results, and you’ll never have to ask for a seat at the table again. —Check out BizLibrary’s ondemand webinar on “How to Gain Leadership Buy-In” at

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