Bridging the gap

Rebecca Paddick talks to Heather Lane, VP International Markets at Instructure, to find out more about the company’s plans for the future

Instructure, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that created the Canvas Virtual Learning Environment, recently announced it had raised £26 million in a Series E round of funding to help launch its cloud-based corporate learning and engagement platform, Bridge. 

Launched in 2011, the cloud-based learning management system now connects more than 18 million teachers and learners at over 1,200 higher education and K-12 institutions throughout the world. 

RP: Instructure was recently awarded £26 million to help fund the Bridge project. What can you tell us about Bridge? 

HL: People are in a constant state of learning in education, and what we found is that a lot of corporate enterprises were attracted to our platform. They have actually been purchasing it over time and trying to adapt it to suit the corporate environment. This investment will finance the launch of Bridge, our cloud-based corporate learning and engagement platform, that signals our expansion into the learning segment of the enterprise market.

The entire education spectrum, from primary school children to university students, all the way through to the mature and adult learner, can use our technology. So Bridge is really the answer to the post-university years – once you’re in the workforce and you want to continue growing and engaging in a corporate environment. Bridge makes it easier for businesses to improve employee engagement and learning, just as Canvas made it easier for educators to improve teaching and learning.

RP: Bridge signals Instructure’s expansion into the learning segment of the enterprise market. What excites you most about the potential of this market?

HL: Bridge is centred and focused around learning, but it’s actually about so much more than that, it’s about employee engagement once you’re in the workforce. The money that we’ve raised is to help us make sure that we do that in a really responsible way, and a lot of that money is going into the education sector as well. We don’t want to take away at all from the education market in order to focus on the enterprise market. We actually expect that the education market will use Bridge for professional development too.

RP: Since its formal launch in 2011, Canvas LMS has attracted 18 million students and teachers. How do you plan on continuing to innovate in the education sector? Anything exciting in the pipeline? 

HL: In the US, the HE sector is our core business, but actually the schools market is our fastest growing segment. It’s impossible to predict the future but I would expect the schools market to overtake HE in the next couple of years.

In the last year we have ramped up our international expansion. The expectation on our international growth is enormous – from 2014 to 2015, we are tripling our expectations in terms of revenue, not to mention setting up new spaces, and having those ready for 2016. It’s ambitious to say the least, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but I’m optimistic and excited.

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