Posts Tagged ‘disruption’

Online courses dropout rate & future of open education

via California to Give Web Courses a Big Trial:

The program is an attempt to overcome the biggest failure of open online courses today — their 90 percent dropout rate.

Wagyu at yuzuWow. 90% as a dropout rate from online courses is insane.

I’ve published open content since 2004, and have always wondered about the idea of taking it further for online education. I remember back in 2004 or so, there was a company called Digital Distribution (founded by Justin Clift) that gave you online courses using Flash. The company is no more, but what did survive from yesteryear is Lynda videos (from the mid-90s).

Now you have Udacity, Coursera, edX, Stanford online courses for certain classes and probably more – all with the focus of not just open education content, but testing, assignments, and more. Marking/grading assignments is probably the hardest. Let’s not forget niche based stuff like Codecademy or 10gen’s online education for MongoDB.

Signing up is easy. It’s continuing on a week-by-week basis with a busy schedule called life that I reckon discourages most people.

I wonder if the trick is as easy as calendaring time to study. After all from school to university, you live & breathe by a calendar (more affectionally known as a timetable). Self-study is probably harder for the masses (as it requires self-discipline), which explains why you don’t find as many part-time students until a little later in life.

How will apps & video play a role? Are apps the new channels?

I’m willing to bet though that eventually we’ll see the education becoming free, you’ll only end up paying for the certification. More self-starters, less student debt, overall a more productive world in a quicker fashion. For those of us that live in Asia, parents aspire to send kids to the UK, USA, or Australia. A lot of that is going to change.

Year end tab sweep 2012 edition

Here are some things I think are well worth reading (also, I’m starting the year fresh with nothing in my tabs :P)

  • Wired has a great interview by Steven Levy on Tim O’Reilly’s Key to Creating the Next Big Thing. Tim taught me to work on stuff that matters (fond memories of an O’Reilly Moleskine Christmas gift), and now continues teaching everyone to create more value than they capture.
  • Blood Sugar or how the diabetes market is waiting to be disrupted. More needs to be done in terms of controlling this disease. We already have sensible trackers like Fitbit, etc. what more can we do to manage this?
  • Why Samsung’s Man in Silicon Valley uses Apple Devices – interesting take in the MIT Technology Review on Yong Sohn, President & Chief Strategy Officer for Samsung based in Silicon Valley. 
  • Another from MIT Technology Review is Installable Web Apps WIll Be the Next Tech Battleground. I see web apps as being important, and I’ve been thinking about this space a lot more lately.
  • Paul Buchheit wrote an amazing essay titled The Gift. It is a must read on unconditional love & living life to the fullest.
  • MIT Technology Review again, this time on disrupting college textbooks. Free Textbooks Spell Disruption for College Publishers profiling Ariel Diaz and his site Boundless Learning. I remember a time buying really expensive textbooks and realized that you only use them for a term, with very few that you plan to keep on your bookshelf forever. The second-hand market naturally thrives but they go out-of-date usually within a year. I know many in Malaysia that love to photocopy textbooks (which I abhor and would never encourage). Imagine free e-book textbooks that you can read on your tablet? Highlight? Have all your notes in one place based on the highlights? This will revolutionize education.
  • Marten Mickos asks: What is Innovation?
  • I’m always interested in new & innovation publishing mediums, and this summary post leaves a lot to think about: Frankfurt Book Fair 2012: Self-publishing, cell phones & startups.
  • Back to a nugget from Tim O’Reilly, a must read is It’s Not About You: The Truth about Social Media Marketing. There’s a money quote there:
  • Activism has been the core of our marketing ever since.  We tell big stories that matter to a community of users, and together we use those stories to amplify a message that we all care about. Framing ideas in such a way that they include and reinforce the identity of a group of people who might not previously have seen themselves as part of the same community allows everyone to tell their own story in a way that adds up to something bigger than any one of them might tell alone. And once they start telling their story as part of the bigger story, it suddenly looks like a parade. 
  • Keep it Real by Nalden. Branding is everything & it comes with good work.
  • Messenger apps, disrupting text messaging (SMS)

    Here are my thoughts on messenger applications, and if you read beyond, there’s an idea worth thinking about.

    Dramatis Personnae:

    • Beluga: Free, Private group messaging on your mobile (with Facebook integration). Works on iOS and Android. Created by ex-Googler’s. Recently acquired by Facebook.
    • Foound: A fun and easy way to organise hangouts with friends and follow their activities. Works on iOS only. Funded, round probably led by Neoteny Labs (a Joi Ito firm). Based in Singapore.
    • WhatsApp Messenger: Cross-platform mobile messaging app, works on iOS, BlackBerry, Android, Nokia. Group chat included. Costs money on some platforms (USD$0.99 on iOS, free trial for a year on BlackBerry/Android, etc.). Started by a couple of ex-Yahoo! chaps.
    • Kik Messenger: Text. Photos. Groups. Its like BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). I’ve not used it extensively, but its brought to you by some ex-RIM chaps, folk that worked on BBM. Just took USD$8 million in Series A funding, including from interesting firms like Union Square Ventures (and Fred Wilson joins the board).
    • PingChat! – Similar to WhatsApp and Kik, it works on iOS, BlackBerry and Android. Has support for video and voice notes, but I have not played with it much.
    • TalkBox – text is boring, why not use voice. Its basically push-to-talk in software. iOS only.

    Today I use BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) a lot. I carry an Android and BlackBerry device in my pocket most of the time. If friends have a BlackBerry, we’re usually chatting on it via BBM, and we’ve given up the idea of sending a SMS. BBM also supports group chats, which means you can coordinate things amongst groups of people quite easily. The only “downside” to BBM is that I have to pay for the BIS service on a monthly basis (it enables push email for 10+1 email accounts, plus gives me BBM). BBM allows me to message friends all around the world, with zero cost. I tend not to use BBM when I’m roaming because data charges are ridiculous.

    Which now brings me to discuss messenger apps like WhatsApp and Kik. I’ve been using WhatsApp for quite some time now, on my BlackBerry and my Android device. I also happen to have it running on test Symbian devices as well as know heaps of people running it on iOS devices. Its got traction. It uses my unlimited data plan which I pay for monthly, but when I’m roaming, again I do not use WhatsApp. Kik is the new kid on the block, received funding, and is backed by a serious team of ex-RIM folk. In my phonebook, I don’t see it gaining much traction, as WhatsApp seems to still be prime. Kik is free, so I wonder what their plans are to make money. Maybe Kik has solid management, which is what the VCs looked for. Kik is however not on the BlackBerry platform, and RIM is suing the company.

    Foound and Beluga. Foound has been around for about a year, and I think it was myopic of the team to just focus on iOS. Yes, the iOS is popular in Singapore, but to gain traction you have to grow beyond just that market. Not focusing on Android and BlackBerry were probably huge mistakes; maybe its time for the company to pivot? Beluga is kind of like Foound, works on more than just iOS, and it seems its more integrated, with its Facebook logins. Of course, Facebook acquired them (team of three folk); their team is much smaller/leaner than the Foound team.

    An idea worth implementing

    Here is a suggestion for differentiation. What annoys me the most with BBM is that I use it to chat with friends and groups of friends while I’m on the move. When I’m chained to my desk, I would rather not use my BlackBerry to respond to messages. Its all data anyway, so why not offer a desktop client?

    Google does this kind of well with Google Chat. It runs on my mobile with data enabled, and when I’m on my desktop, I just fire up Adium or Pidgin and I can still chat with folk. It does not handle group chat though.

    WhatsApp is tied to my mobile number, for example. It works over IP. Why not allow me to login with my username (phone number, unique identifier) and password on my laptop, so I can write/reply to messages via my keyboard? It would improve my productivity tremendously, and it is a service I would be willing to pay for.

    Finishing thoughts

    Where does PingChat! and TalkBox fit in? They all do group chat. TalkBox focuses on the voice aspects of it. Are messenger apps the new group buying sites? This is becoming a crowded space, and WhatsApp looks like it is the most-cross platform at the moment.

    The future is with messenger apps, but I doubt it’s going to bust any SMS profit cartel. It will make a huge dent, but frequent travellers will generally not be using data when travelling. And without data, all these apps are dead (unless you want to support the data profit cartel). When will we see unlimited data (and roaming data) become cheaper?

    Best wishes to Team Beluga, Foound, WhatsApp, Kik, PingChat! and Talkbox. I see an exciting 24 months ahead in this space.

    Where I used to live (or how I played with Google Street View)

    Where I used to live - Google Street View

    This is interesting. Google’s Street View. Yes, I’ve seen a lot about it on the blogosphere, but I decided to finally try it out. The photo is of the house, where I used to live. Zooming in, now I can tell you that to the left of that, is where my dodgy landlord still lives ;)

    Actually, more to the point. These pictures were definitely taken this year. I know this because I had the room in front, upstairs, and there were things sticking out between the shutters and the window. This picture is too serene, so must’ve been after November 2007.

    I see good potential in Street View. Think about mashups with a site that focuses on you finding rental properties. Now people can comment on the property, look at the surrounding neighbourhood, and basically help you make a better choice at renting.

    The real estate industry has moved online (in Australia, I can think of Ray White, LJ Hooker, at the top of my head), but its not really been disrupted. No, domain.com.au isn’t disruption – look who owns it?

    I was mildly surprised to find out about HomeSpace.sg from the e27 unconference I attended a few weeks back. Its focus currently is only for homes that are for sale, but they focus on the important aspects – like is it near an MRT, what kind of shopping malls are nearby, if you’re buying a property and have kids in mind, what zone to head to and so on.

    They’re mashing it up with Google Maps. Pity there isn’t Street View in Singapore, huh?

    Street View does 360° views as well. Nifty, if you ask me. See the surrounds. Does anyone know of a real estate disruptor in Australia, yet? Otherwise, there’s definitely room to start coding one…


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