Start-up mylearningworx aims to ‘democratise UK learning’

The creators of mylearningworx are aiming to democratise UK learning by harnessing the power of crowd-sourced learning content.

The platform, which had its beta launch last week, is the brainchild of six elearning industry veterans – Martin Belton (formerly of e2train), Clive Snell (Bizmedia Publishing, which publishes elearning Age), Kate Graham (formerly Redtray, e2train and QA), Peter Williams (editor, elearning Age), Craig Hogan and Melanie Williams.

LearnPatch asked mylearningworx communications director Kate Graham to explain the concept.

Why this product and why now?

Crowdsourcing online (and more specifically crowdsourcing learning) as a concept is now gathering enthusiasm in the UK (it’s been popular in the US for some time). Where that enthusiasm really counts is with investors who now have the confidence to get behind these crowdsourcing projects because they can see the opportunities.

There has, for some time, been a chasm between the ways that learners can acquire new skills online. On the one hand we have the learning management systems and formal elearning, founded on the demands and feedback of corporations, but not the learners themselves. On the other, we have zettabytes of knowledge on the Internet, but we can’t make sense, or validate it, using simple social media tools designed for chatting and recreation. But now technology enables sites like mylearningworx, to take the wisdom of the crowd, organise it, fill in the gaps, validate it and then shares it with the world.

You have received angel investment – who are the angel investors and how much have they invested?

We took a decision to work with a number of smaller investors, rather than a single overarching venture capitalist at this stage – this suits our investment opportunity far better. But they are in the main experienced people keen to leverage the benefits of Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes and Enterprise Investment Scheme investment opportunities like ours.

 Give an overview of what the product does now and how you hope to develop it in the coming months.

mylearningworx aims to ‘democratise UK learning’ by offering learning created by the crowd, for the crowd – that is any Internet user. Basically it enables  people to make a course using existing resources and create a powerful curriculum for it complete with questions.

It enables people to purchase and take a course. We have an exciting plan to develop new functionality – but that is really being guided by our beta testers. We had some excellent feedback in the alpha stage. We’ve already had some cool ideas and suggestions during the initial stages of the beta. They’re the ones that will help us nail down the right way to go and scale up for the future.

Where have you sourced your courses from so far?

We have a variety of partners including Safety media, Nelson Croom and MindLeaders. But primarily it’s the crowd that will be creating courses for us in future – and they’ve already started doing so as part of the beta launch.

Is it a UK focused product?

Completely. We will be looking to attract ‘crowd partners’ – essentially UK based authors and ‘course directors’ to work closely with to develop content shaped for the UK on subjects that are relevant to our consumer and corporate markets. That doesn’t mean to say that our courses won’t have value in other parts of the world – just that our focus is the UK.

You say it is for anyone – business and individuals. Who do you see as being the biggest users of the platform?

It is really all about SMEs and consumers. The SME market is something that we feel is particularly important in that we feel many small organisations have great difficulty in resourcing small amounts of good elearning at competitive prices.

Is there a danger people will produce bad elearning and how do you help them with that?

We are building a substantial amount of free content and instruction to make sure that people recognise the difference. Another supporting element is the curriculum tool itself which makes organising learning into useful and organised sections quite easy. We will also keep a close eye on the content produced – and if we think that it is either too highly priced or just not good enough, then we will tell the author and even give advice on how to improve it to bring it up to scratch.

We’re also holding mylearningworxshop on Thursday 13 December to help share the knowledge and skills users need to be able to create great learning content. It’s being hosted at Google Campus in London and we’re very excited to have some experienced authors joining us on the day. Initiatives like this will help our users avoid many classic elearning pitfalls.

What are the authoring tools the product uses?

At its most basic level, the authoring system provides simple import of video (and therefore recorded PowerPoint) and PDF, a HTML editor and a question generator. Authors can import SCORM objects as well which means they can use any authoring tool they wish. We are also in the process of considering other tools such as Mozilla Popcorn which we believe will have a big future as an elearning tool.

What’s the commercial model?

Authors receive 70% of all fees they charge for their course. We sell content as single units, though organisations will get discounts the more content they commit to per month.

If we came back to you in a year and asked you about the biggest achievement for the product what would you hope it to be?

Our biggest achievement will be freeing up learning for the average Joe with content that previously would not have been accessible to either an individual or a SME. And it will be harnessing the collective wisdom of the crowd and encouraging them to share their knowledge by creating content for the site. We’ve got clear targets for the volume of content we are aiming for our users to create, and the number of courses that are taken which will help us understand if we’re succeeding in our mission to democratise learning in the UK.

mylearningworx has opened the doors to beta tester, so sign up if you would like to play.

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