Ever feel like you learn more from your friends at school than from the teachers? The for profit business venture OpenStudy funded by the United States National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Georgia Research Alliance has come up with an interesting business model building on just that idea. Showing us that Education Entrepreneurs can do well and do good at the same time.
About: Founded in 2009, OpenStudy is a social learning network where students ask questions, give help, and connect with other students studying the same things. Partnering with MIT’s Open Courseware it offers students study help on a wide variety of courses and certifications on wide range of topics including things like Thermodynamics, Clinical Trials and Capital Markets. In a few short years it has grown to serve 200,000 students per month in more than 150 countries.
Social Need Addressed: Study tool and education resource for students in a modern era.
Business Model: The basic version is free, but once students get “hooked” they need to pay for a premium version of the site. They also hope to make money by licensing the site and software to partnering education institutions.
Concerns: It is for profit but funded by the government, what would happen if government money dried up? Are students really ready for Facebook like social learning? Students may still have a preference to build trust and collaborate in person rather than on-line. Further will students always be able to find someone on-line with the time and knowledge to answer their question? Finally it is also controversial to pay students for their notes – the core of how the business works. Many of these concerns are outlined on this good article from The Chronicle.
WHAT IS YOUR VOTE?