‘Most students resist being educated’

That’s what US blogger/teacher Freddie says, in his post of the same name, which points out that there’s a prevailing notion around at the moment that the net has made traditional education obsolete by freeing up the flows of information. As a result, students can get to the information they want/need – they don’t need teachers anymore to deliver it to them…

However, as Freddie points out, education is an altogether more complex business – it isn’t simply about the communicating of information. An interesting post and an interesting discussion following on from it.

Reminded me of similar but related ideas from Pamela Hieronymi’s essay on the myths of online learning, quoted in Evegeny Morozov’s ‘To Save Everything, Click Here’:

Education is not the transmission of information or ideas. Education is the training needed to make use of information and ideas. As information breaks loose from bookstores and libraries and floods onto computers and mobile devices, that training becomes more important, not less.


BlikBook and ‘monetising student engagement’

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.