Training Industry Magazine - March/April 2019 - 58
D E A L S
SUPPORT FOR EDTECH STARTUPS:
THE DDI INNOVATION FUND AND THE KAHOOT!
BY TARYN OESCH
New programs launched by training
companies DDI and Kahoot! are
expanding the definition of "training
provider" and providing funding and
other support for education technology
Last fall, leadership company DDI
announced the DDI Innovation Fund,
a venture fund to invest in "cuttingedge companies with innovative
digital, mobile, and leadership-focused
capabilities that complement DDI's
existing suite of leadership selection,
development, succession planning,
and consulting solutions," according
to the press release. Later that year,
Kahoot! announced Kahoot! Ignite, an
accelerator program for "a diverse family
of apps for iOS, Android and Windows
platforms who will help Kahoot! build
the world's leading learning community,"
according to the press release.
The DDI Innovation Fund is a result
of recent changes to DDI's business
strategy, according to Doug Reynolds,
executive vice president of innovations
and technology. While DDI has worked
in aspects of talent management as well
as leadership, it's been getting back to
its roots with "a much tighter focus on
leadership." The company closed the part
of its business that dealt with employee
selection and used the proceeds of that
spinoff to launch the fund.
Kahoot!, a newer player (founded in
2013), is a gamification platform for
K-12 and corporate learning. Asmund
Furuseth, CEO, says over 50 percent of
teachers and students in the U.S. use
Kahoot!, and the company also has
almost half a million business accounts
with over 20 million corporate learners.
"We would like other companies to also
get that opportunity to reach out to a
big audience," he says, pointing out that
the challenge when launching a great
product is cutting through the noise.
THE CHALLENGE WHEN
LAUNCHING A GREAT
PRODUCT IS CUTTING
THROUGH THE NOISE.
Investing in Innovation
Reynolds says DDI is considering a
range of companies for its investments,
including startups with a new technology
or with products or customer bases
that align with DDI's. "We're looking
really broadly at companies or products
that add value for the identification,
assessment or development of leaders,"
he says. "If it's a piece that we don't have
that we think is valuable, then we're
interested in it."
How DDI then partners with a company
will depend on that company. "I think
the ideal case is that there will be some
synergy between the products that DDI
offers or our research and development
road map and what the company offers,"
As for Kahoot!, Furuseth says the goal
of the accelerator is "to make sure that
learning is more engaging worldwide."
One company can't accomplish that
goal by itself, he adds, so Kahoot! is
looking for companies that complement
its game-based learning offerings.
"Of course they need to be similar to
Kahoot! in the sense that they are highly
motivating and engaging," he says, and
"it has to be some sort of software ... for
us to be able to do knowledge-sharing
and have something to contribute." But
other than those criteria, Kahoot! is
looking simply for a good product, with
Technology is, of course, innovating
across the training sector, but even
in an area like leadership, emerging
technologies can play a role. "A lot of folks
are experimenting with things like virtual
reality, the use of machine learning,
other forms of artificial intelligence,
natural language processing, that
lets the computer do a little more of
the work, and I think that has great
potential for aiding the learning and
development process," says Reynolds.
"There's good stuff out there that you're
just starting to see emerge, and that's
one of the things we're looking [at]."
Furuseth says Kahoot! is not quite ready
for those types of technologies, though
"of course it could be interesting."
Especially given that 2018 research
found that learners believe on-the-job
training and coaching, instructor-led
training (ILT), and gamification are still
effective learning methods, Kahoot!'s
and DDI's more conventional training
programs and tools are likely not going
anywhere anytime soon.
Taryn Oesch is the managing editor of
digital content at Training Industry, Inc.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Magazine - March/April 2019