Pandemic closes school. Students go home. Remote classes falter. Child is disengaged. Parent builds edtech.

So goes the origin story of many education startups born this year, like ClassEDU, which raised $16 million to put some oomph in Zoom classrooms. It was started by one of the co-founders of Blackboard, now a household name in education technology.

Now, a couple with similar industry cred has a similar vision—along with plenty of funding.

“We want to build from the ground up an inclusive learning system for students and faculty, one that can recreate engaging, live learning experiences online,” says Dan Avida.

Avida is the husband of Coursera co-founder Daphne Koller, and one of the first board members of the company that helped put the spotlight on massive online open courses, or MOOCs. The couple is no longer with Coursera, which is now valued at $2.5 billion. But they are not done with higher education yet.

Through their new startup, Engageli, they want to replicate the social feeling of being in a classroom, layered with live data about student engagement, on a browser-based tool that they hope to sell to colleges and universities.

As its name suggests, Engageli aims to foster social interactions among students and instructors. One feature that Avida was keen to show off is the setup of an online class. Students are “seated” in virtual tables, in groups of up to 10. They can see, hear and chat with one another, along with the teacher. But they cannot do so with students at other tables. Only when students raise their hand and are given permission to speak can they be heard by everyone else.

Read the full article about fostering engagement in online classes by Tony Wan at EdSurge.