The debate in online education seems to be dominated at the moment by MOOCs – and the whole pro/anti debate. But there are other companies moving into the area with slightly different ideas and approaches – like Blikbook, a would-be ‘Quora for Higher Education’, profiled recently by The Next Web.
Blikbook aims to encourage ‘high quality student engagement ‘ via anonymous Q&A rooms and a recommendation algorithm that suggests topics of interest. I thought the sections on revenue were especially revealing:
BlikBook was born from the experiences of its founders while at university. They found that students asked questions to each other via long email chains and text messages – hardly an efficient way of sharing knowledge. The startup began by trying to create engagement around specific textbooks but found that students preferred to use it to share broader, course-related questions.
Monetization is currently by way of affiliate links to textbooks, but BlikBook sees its real potential for revenue in the analytics it can provide to lecturers about how well students are engaging with their courses. This data, Tan says, can provide valuable insight into how well students will perform and how they may rate the course when it comes to filling in satisfaction surveys – an increasingly important factor when it comes to attracting future enrolments. The startup is currently trialling analytics features with a small group of universities.
I wonder if we’re going to see a lot more companies like this.