Online learning has certainly been a space that has grown by leaps and bounds when it comes to the entire world in the last decade, more so in India.
With the era of open Internet and availability of a great amount of content that is being consumed everyday there is a lot of content that is churned out and shared. With the advent of Google, we thought the ballgame had changed. And then we had Wikipedia.
But wait, that wasn't the game changer at all. With blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, YouTube, Reddit, and so many social networking sites allowing for user generated content, a lot of assimilation of data started across the board. Social as such itself is changing the game in knowledge curation across various domains within the intertubes.
So amongst such great social content curation culture is something we are aware of is MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). And in that direction, this Mumbai-based product startup has been doing some great work with its app called LurnQ.
In today's day and age, learning online is something that depends on how intuitive the learning process is, however it is also important for people to really have a focused approach towards learning. And with so much noise and so many platforms at their disposal, content consumption is sporadic and if learning is required to be focused it's hard to keep an eye on subjects of your interest as such.
That is where this application comes into picture.
LurnQ aspires to make online learning easy, personal & collaborative. With social features and customized content LurnQ hopes to become a digital repository of sorts for various learning/knowledge forms of various topics.
What it does is aggregate from various websites different learning resources on a particular topic within its platform. Similar to Quora. however it's not specific to a question that is asked or answered by users, but through various lessons or content that is created by users or updated across the web. Users can sign up and select topics of interest and LurnQ keeps updating those topics with newer content generated on the web.
Essentially LurnQ gives you an option to log on to the site with various social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Once that's done it asks us to select at least three interests from a group of topics such as Travel & Leisure, Books, Entrepreneurship, Social Media, Digital Marketing, and etc.
Once you have made your choice of topics, you get a list of people to follow, who are already connected to you from the network you used to login.
Further which, you can choose to browse from various sections as below:
- Learn: The Learn option allows you to explore lessons or opinions based on what various people have contributed in the Teach section where they create a lesson or an opinion. Generally a lesson is a crash course on a topic or something people want to share as a learning. Opinions are essentially views or let's say blogs which give personal perspectives to the reader. The section Learn is again divided into categories such as For You, Trending and Recent. 'For You' aggregates content that aligns to your interests which you shared while creating the profile.
- Teach: This is essentially a user's submission within the platform. Teach is then sub-divided into two major sections: a. Create Lesson, b. Write Opinion. Create Lesson is a simple procedure where you share your knowledge on the platform. And with the main lesson you also need to add relevant sections to it so that you can add resources to the content from the platform or by giving a link to your resource if need be. And as mentioned above writing opinion is similar to where you need to provide details about your opinion, category and the resources that need to be added with the opinion.
- Library: Basically the store house of all the activities performed by you on the platform that could be related to lessons, opinions, resources, added URLs and topics.
Overall the product is certainly innovative. Especially since I'm a big fan of curation of knowledge across various channels in social media this product is certainly something that will help in terms of curating and learning various topics of interest. I'd certainly be hooked on to this app as much as I'd spend time on Quora.
Once I explored the app a bit and tried it out, I had some questions that I had to ask and I reached out to Tarun Mitra, CEO and co-founder at LurnQ. Here's what he had to say:
ZDNet: What is LurnQ's core mission, considering such a vast growth in the digital space in the last few years?
Tarun: To start with, Google and Wikipedia have transformed education to an on demand service--we learn when we need it. Than came the open courseware initiatives from the likes of MIT and Harvard. Khan Academy ushered in an era of MTV model of education. And now we are witnessing another revolution taking place, popularly known as MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses). All these developments have transformative potential for education. All this is great for the learners; however there is a challenge in terms of these never ending options that he is exposed to.
We developed LurnQ to address this issue. LurnQ connects learners with relevant learning content, expert teachers and a social community in a unified manner.
The biggest advantage of LurnQ comes from the emerging open learning ecosystem. A user can consume a variety of content from diverse sources on a single platform with more relevance and personalization. Our vision is to develop LurnQ as the core learning utility that learners use ubiquitously to learn as individuals and in groups.
How many members does LurnQ have as of now?
In the month of March 2013 we recorded over 30,000 unique users--32 percent from the U.S., 28 percent from India and 40 percent from the rest of the world. Since our launch in October 2012 we are registering 100 percent growth month on month.
What features do you think are the most important/crucial as far as LurnQ is concerned?
LurnQ offers a platform for learning and teaching that is free for everyone at present. The Web site offers a teaching app which helps anyone create lessons on a variety of topics; a learning app which helps you explore different lessons and use them on your personal learning, based on the topics of your interest and a library which can be used for future use and reference. It contains a bookmarklet option for easy retrieval of resources, both internal and external.
What are the most popular topics of learning on LurnQ?
The following are the top 10 popular topics on LurnQ based on the number of followers:
- Education 2.0
- Creative writing
- Soft skills
- Social media
Knowledge Consumption and Learning has drastically changed in the recent times. How do you think this will affect your product?
LurnQ was born out of the need to have easy access to relevant information from a plethora of learning resources that the web offers. With this objective we have made tight integration with popular content distribution platforms such as YouTube and Slideshare.
Going forward we will integrate with tools like Google Hangout. We also use feed/notification-based collaboration and sharing technology to deliver a familiar experience. The vision is to integrate what the entire modern web technologies have to offer on a single platform, customized for learning and teaching.
With learning and education space being hot in India, do you think you've got your monetization model right or is it still in the works and may be tweaked later on?
We are not yet focused on monetization. The immediate challenge is to deliver a compelling user experience and build a product that users love. Once ready, we will adopt already proven monetization strategy that has worked well in consumer web applications in other sectors.
Do you have elements of gamification within the product? Does that serve better especially since it's a learning-based app?
Yes, gamification is important. Currently we have very basic gamification with our upvote feature. Going forward we plan to address this in a far more detailed manner.
Lastly, Why is LurnQ called LurnQ?
Well, this question I didn't ask him as I found the answer already on Quora and its an interesting perspective as simple as it may sound, yet a bit profound in itself. Here's what he said on Quora:
We believe, people learn by being interested and curious. The name "LurnQ" is a twisted derivation of Learning+Curiosity.
At LurnQ we are passionate about the potential of the web for learning and teaching. 21st century learning means that learners master content while producing, synthesizing, and evaluating information from a wide variety of subjects and sources. In this environment, learner demonstrates the 3Cs: Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration.
We're building what I think is a 21st-century learning platform. It’s interactive, it’s community-driven, and it’s fun. We are not quite there yet, however our new design upgrade is a step in that direction.
You can reach out to Tarun here @mtarun.
Also this interesting Infographic from LurnQ gives an interesting perspective on how we learn and what LurnQ is all about: