Domestic, Feature, Open Source Education, Publishers, Required, Startups, Technology - Written by on Thursday, November 10, 2011 11:27 - 0 Comments

Startup MentorMob Co-Founder Talks About Its Place in Education

Vince Leung of MentorMob

Vince Leung of MentorMob

 

Earlier this week, we covered startup MentorMob’s launch. Since “mentor” is in the name, we only thought it fitting to discuss the school and academic uses. We talk with Vince Leung, MentorMob COO and co-founder,  about their place in academic education.


 

WA: Where’s the Khan Academy goods?

VL: They would be a great content partner for our platform.  We are truly hoping that educators do find the value in MentorMob for collaborative learning (for students) and creating lesson plans (for teachers).  Columbia College of Chicago is using MentorMob in classes today and we’re in talks with partnering with a “top 5 enrollment” university.

WA: Would love to learn more details about how Columbia College is using the technology. How did they find Mentormob? Are their playlists public?

VL: Our Director of Marketing is on the board of Columbia College and has worked with a few professors to pilot MentorMob.  Columbia College uses a lot of real-world information (ie. Youtube, Internet articles, blogs) in the classroom and this form of teaching was begging for a platform like MentorMob.  This allows the professor to indicate which steps in the Playlist the students should review and allows the professor to easily update the Playlist at any time.
The “top 5 enrollment university” we’ve spoken with has had a lot of creative thoughts in implementing MentorMob into the curriculum.  One of the ideas was to have the students build the Learning Playlist together each semester.  This way, the students would have to do the research to find the best content to put into the Learning Playlist.  This form of learning reduces the amount of lecture and actually immerses the student into the process of learning.

WA: We see guitar lessons, but not many academic content. Any K-12 users?

VL: Unfortunately not yet.  We actually just launched last Monday and our resources are limited but hope to get them involved.

WA: What will be your strategy to get more teachers involved?

VL:This is the hardest part – marketing.  We’ve piloted MentorMob with several educators in the classroom and see that our platform is a great complementary tool for teachers.  Since then we’ve been connecting with influencers in the education space via Quora, Twitter, etc.  These folks know the space very well and have said they love how simple it is to use, yet powerful enough to curate virtually any type of online media for consumption which has been their pain-point.

WA: When you say collaborative learning, do you mean live interaction, or sharing content?

VL: I mean for the content creators and learners.  For the content creators our Learning Playlists have various editing permissions – public (any registered user can edit/improve it, similar to Wikipedia), invite-only (I can select a group of users to edit the Playlist), or private (only I can edit it).  With the public and invite-only options this will provide the collaboration for content curation that is desperately needed on the Internet.  Wikipedia has proven that the crowd-sourced model can work with collecting facts, we’re out to prove it can work with learning content as well.

For the learners we allow users to register with Facebook and integrate their social graph with MentorMob.  Whenever someone is going through a Learning Playlist that a friend has already gone through, and marked steps within the Playlist as “I know this”, then we will indicate which of their Facebook friends might be able to help if you have a question.  The “who can help me” will greatly reduce the fear of asking a question if it is someone within one’s own social circle.

WA: Is there a revenue stream you see as a way forward in education, or will you focus on letting the corporate clients support the education applications?

VL: We will offer use of MentorMob for free, but it will be advertisement supported.  The advertisements will be geared to help the learner in that particular topic.  For example, if a user is learning “how to tune a guitar” then there will be an ad for a deal on a guitar tuner.  Our pro version will be subscription based.

Regarding the SaaS corporate training model – we are currently partnered with organizations who use MentorMob’s platform to organize their training content (videos, text, etc) in a private manner.  One example is Wilton Brands, a billion dollar arts & crafts company to train their 3,400 Wilton Method Instructors around the nation.

WA: What does MentorMob want to be when it grows up?

VL: In the end we see MentorMob as a platform to curate all the best content on the Internet.  We’re still very early in the process so we’re going to be lacking in content and quality.  It’s very much like the beginning of Wikipedia so we’re going to need as many folks to help contribute to MentorMob to continually improve the experience.

Thanks to Vince for sharing his thoughtful insight.

More than ever, we need good content curation. MentorMob needs to move quickly and gain traction though. Khan Academy scored $5 million and mentioned content curation as one of the goals. We’re pretty sure Sal’s will want to curate more than just their own videos. But if MentorMob can grab the attention of the curating masses and find loyal users like Wikipedia diehards, we think they have a very promising business model.



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