Originally posted on Gigaom:

Innovation in a thought bubble written on a chalkboard

Online education is on a tear. Every few weeks or so, it seems like yet another startup offering online classes announces a multimillion dollar funding round. This week, San Francisco-based UniversityNow, which provides affordable higher education degrees online, said it raised $17.3 million. In the past three months, at least seven online course startups have launched or announced funding.

“I think we’re hitting a tipping point where online education is accepted,” said Gene Wade, CEO and co-founder of UniversityNow. “There’s enormous demand for education around the world.”

In the past decade, he said, more than a billion people have joined the middle class, creating new demand for educational opportunities. Globally, 150 million people will seek higher education in the next eight years and, domestically, 2 million will pursue higher ed over the next ten years.

When people join the middle class, education becomes one of their biggest priorities. But…

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