Capella Education Company invests in Sophia, an innovative education technology startup company

February 01, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, February 1, 2011 - Capella Education Company (NASDAQ: CPLA), a provider of exclusively online post-secondary education through its wholly owned subsidiary Capella University ( has invested in an innovative startup company called Sophia – a social teaching and learning platform that integrates education with technology. Sophia was designed to connect people who want to learn with people who want to teach, and is expected to become a tool to help support current and potential Capella students as well as the general public. The platform, located at, is currently in beta and accessible by invite only, but will be available to the general public in early March 2011.

"We are excited about the long-term possibilities that Sophia offers. This is a new way to think about how learning can take place, and it aligns with Capella's mission of educational access and history of innovation," said J. Kevin Gilligan, Capella's Chief Executive Officer and Chairman. "This investment is part of our long-term strategy for Capella."

The content on the Sophia website is organized by "learning packets," which are small collections of academic content focused around a specific subject that can be created using text, images, slideshows, video or audio. It will enable educators to supplement their teaching methods with interactive tools to create a customized learning environment on topics across the academic spectrum. Sophia has been called a mashup of Facebook, Wikipedia and YouTube, focused solely on education. It will be free for the general public, and will be made available through licensing for school districts, colleges and corporations for their own internal use.

"Sophia began with the premise that there are millions of great ideas, methods, lessons and people who can contribute to our society's goal of spreading knowledge and making education more effective," said Sophia Chief Executive Officer and founder Don Smithmier. "We want to surround the traditional classroom with a worldwide classroom where everyone has access to information taught in a way that makes sense to them. Having a partner like Capella, with its history of innovation with online education and academic quality, brings access to an enormous depth of knowledge regarding best practices in online education."

The beta phase of the Sophia website is focused on content provided by educators, including Capella faculty. Beginning in March, anyone will be able to post credible academic content to Sophia. All content is subject to a rating and review system to help ensure quality and increase the appeal to teachers and learners.

Currently more than 50 million Americans over the age of 25 have some college credit but no degree. The goals of Sophia include breaking down access and knowledge barriers to a college degree and supporting educators by offering thousands of lessons to supplement their own teaching methods.

"Sophia represents a new generation of learning tools and resources for students and educators alike," said Capella University Provost Deb Bushway. "Capella is excited to be a partner in this initiative, and we feel both Capella students and our faculty will recognize it as a valuable resource."

Sophia was created and developed by Smithmier's digital innovation company, GoKart Labs, in 2009 and spun off as a stand-alone company in 2010.

About Capella Education Company

Founded in 1991, Capella Education Company is a national leader in online education and parent company of Capella University, a regionally accredited* online university. Capella University offers online graduate degree programs in business, counseling, education, health administration, human services, information technology, nursing, psychology, public administration, public health, public safety, and social work, and bachelor's degree programs in business, information technology, nursing, psychology, public administration, and public safety. These academic programs are designed to meet the needs of working adults, combining high quality, competency-based curricula with the convenience and flexibility of an online learning format. More than 38,000 learners were enrolled as of Sept. 30, 2010. For more information about Capella Education Company, please visit For more information, please visit or call 1.888.CAPELLA (227.3552).

* Capella University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA),
Capella University, Capella Tower, 225 South Sixth Street, Ninth Floor, Minneapolis, MN 55402, 1.888.CAPELLA (227.3552),

About Sophia

Sophia is a social teaching and learning application that makes free, credible academic content available to anyone at anytime. Our goal is to surround the traditional classroom with a worldwide classroom that connects people who want to learn, with people willing to teach. We want to build a community where everyone has access to information taught in a way that makes sense to them. For more information, visit