Douglas Crets


Giving Credibility to the Shadow Education System

Comment Ranking System Will Play Crucial Role in Web-Based Curriculum

Fred Wilson

Image by Joi via Flickr

I am pretty sure that deploying a comment ranking system in blogs will have some strong function in a web-based learning world. I made a comment about it at Fred Wilson’s blog, and I think that it represents a piece of the puzzle that will enable blogs to carry some legitimacy.

Disqus is testing out a feature on certain blogs. They may not be visualizing the education web-based curriculum, but I could not help my self from postulation.

The idea is that if you are working in a learning system that uses the social web to link people, you will need comments or badges to link people to their credibility and reputatino in the group. Right now, education is mostly about grades and diplomas, and standardized test performance.

When it moves towards a realtime application of skills to problems that need solutions, blogs will form a fundamental core to linking experts to students, and then student-expert teams that run communities. To get into a community you apply, just as you would to get into college, and the comment ranking and reputation score will indicate your likelihood of acceptance.

I’ve always said that your reputation will be the most important feature of your web presence. You may be the smartest dog in the pack, but if you are always biting others on the tail and trying to keep that bone to yourself, you’re out. Keep that in mind; it will be fundamental in the next few years.

Be nice!


Filed under: Digital Learning, Influence, Tech, , , , , , , ,

Big Think Launches Online University

Ideas web site Big Think today launched an attempt at an online university. The e-learning platform is shot at trying to aggregate the world’s best thinkers and innovators on one platform to make learning in subject areas easy for anyone. Here’s a segment of their announcement, which they posted on their site and in an newsletter sent out this afternoon:

For the first time in more than three centuries, Harvard and Yale will concurrently offer the same course — and its primary “text” won’t be a book, but rather a video lecture series comprising the world’s greatest thinkers and leading scholars.

Students are already responding. At Yale, 145 students have already registered for Great Big Ideas, for a class limited in size to 18 – making it the third most popular course on campus even before its first day of class. (Intro Economics and Intro Psychology are #1 and #2).

Great Big Ideas delivers an undergraduate liberal arts education in 12 weeks. It’s a survey of twelve major fields delivered by their most important thinkers and practitioners, including former Big Think guests Leon BotsteinSteven PinkerMichio KakuLarry SummersDoug MeltonPaul Bloom and many others.

Each lecture explores the key questions in the field, lays out the methods for answering those inquiries and explains why the field matters.  It is an effective introduction to thinking differently, and a primer in the diverse modes of problem solving essential for success in the 21st century. And, while the company is partnering with major universities, they are also challenging the basis of their traditional models of education.

Pretty interesting that Harvard and Yale share the same course. This is disruptive thinking, and it borrows the brand and marketing halo of two major ivy league universities, giving Big Think a lot of credibility.

Which brings the question to the forefront: in an online world, is credibility or a degree more important? If I take most of my courses online from reputable sources, but don’t get a degree, am I just as viable a candidate for a job as someone who went to those schools but comes away from those programs with a much better human network than I do?

The future of scaling up this enterprise will be in enabling a special kind of networking ability for the “students” who use the platform. somewhere, someone is dreaming up a learning platform that is as much about great content as it is about networking. When you figure out the networking component, then you won’t need a Harvard or a Yale anymore. That’s the only reason they are number one and number two in anyone’s book.

Don’t think so?

Look what Larry Summers says about academics. Too focused on theory and not enough on what happens in the real world:

Filed under: Digital Learning, Influence, , , , ,

Pipeline Fellowship Apps for Women Angel Investors Start Inaugural Boston Effort

written by A. Lauren Abele

The Pipeline Fellowship announces a call for applications in New York, NY and—for the first time—Boston, MA.

The Pipeline Fellowship seeks to increase the number of women angel investors (only 13% of U.S. angels are women[1]) through its six-month angel investing bootcamp, which is specifically designed for women who are first-time angel investors. While Fellows come from a variety of backgrounds (law, finance, healthcare, the arts, small business, and more), they all share a common interest in learning to invest for good.

The program trains women philanthropists to become angel investors through education (modules on due diligence, term sheets, valuations, board governance, etc.), mentoring (matching each participant with an experienced angel investor to serve as a role model), and practice (participants commit to invest in a woman-led for-profit social venture at the end of the training).

The cohorts are intentionally small (10 women) and designed to encourage teamwork, co-mentoring, peer-to-peer learning, as well as group decision-making in the investing process. Each participant commits to invest US$5K for a collective US$50K investment in exchange for an equity stake in the woman-led social enterprise of the group’s choosing. The inaugural Pipeline Fellowship class (NYC 2011) will be announcing their investment in late October. Stay tuned!

Applications for the 2011-2012 Boston- and 2012 NYC-based Pipeline Fellowship programs are now being accepted on a rolling basis until Monday, August 29, 2011. To apply, go to thePipeline Fellowship applications page.

The Pipeline Fellowship trains women philanthropists to become angel investors through education, mentoring, and practice. In addition to an all-day conference, the program’s educational components include a series of workshops on topics such as portfolio strategies, due diligence, and valuation. Each Fellow is also paired with an experienced angel investor who serves as a role model and a sounding board, sharing feedback and advice. Lastly, the Fellows put their education to work by selecting and investing in a woman-led, for-profit social venture.

A. Lauren Abele is Pipeline Fellowship’s COO. The Pipeline Fellowship aims to diversify the investor pool and connect women social entrepreneurs with investors who get them. Lauren holds a BA in English Literature and Environmental Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and an MPA in Economic Development and Comparative and International Affairs from Indiana University’s School for Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). Follow her on Twitter at @laurenabele.

Filed under: Digital Learning, Influence, Tech, , , , ,

Virtual Goods Slip Into #Education Field

If you are building a virtual education or online education play, you probably worry about relevancy. You have to fight against two camps of thought: people who think that virtual education or gaming education is a distraction from the real world of reading, writing and arithematic; and people who think that gaming education or online learning has no impact on the real lives of people.

I just found MiniMonos, an online education game for boys with a twist.

Buy a virtual good inside the game and you contribute to a clean water supply for kids in India (14,000+ days to date), as well as adopting orangutans, supporting wild tigers, and other feel-good rewards. There are also in-world rewards for real-world eco-actions.

Why boys? Disney tends to target boys with TV shows as girls will happily watch boys’ shows, but not vice versa. But online, there’s lots of entertainment for girls, but not much for boys. So if you capture the boys online, you bring the girls along with them, thus increasing the value of the company.

Its four main countries are the US, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand; memberships is driven through natural traffic (word of mouth), Google Adwords, the Miniclip games aggregator site, and PR, via primarily kids’ television. The company has just launched TV commercials in the UK and will launch branded prepaid cards in Sainsbury’s in the UK in October.


Filed under: Digital Learning, Gaming, Influence, , , , ,

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