OK, Mashable.com doesn’t call it that (no need) – the headline above is just to catch your eye. They have so many great pointers and comments every day that you ought to be sure to subscribe to their feeds directly, but I thought I would flag a few interesting one that just caught my eye.
The links below and any quotes are all related to the original Mashable postings, since that what caught my eye – you can then follow those onwards to the ‘native’ sites:
TalkBean is a new site that lets tutors teach language online. All lessons are performed live, using webcams. As a tutor, you can set your schedule to show times when you are available. Students can set up an appointment with you, or they will see when you are online if you choose to go live, making yourself immediately available to teach. … There are a few drawbacks to the site…
Launched by Fabrood Nivi, an award-winning exam preparatory instructor, Grockit offers a more cost efficient alternative for test takers, and is taught via WebEx. You can get 16 90-minute sessions with GMAT review text books for about $400.
LessonBites is a new video site that aims to provide an online marketplace for instructors and consumers. As an instructor, you can upload a video to LessonBites. This will cost you about $10 per video, not including the membership fee required upon registration, which allows you to upload one instructional and three sample videos. When users purchase your instructional video to download, you earn money.
Tutorom is an e-learning community that has created a marketplace for students and teachers. Anyone can submit lessons on Tutorom, and the site is free for those seeking lessons in a variety of subjects, from AJAX to cooking. Lessons can be submitted as text, or even video files. As a user, you can choose to register in order to gain access to premium lessons and turn ads off. As a teacher, you can charge for your lessons, or earn 10% of ad revenue by becoming a registered member as well. Lessons can be rated on a 5-star scale, and bookmarked for later use, though other users cannot be bookmarked. Tutorom tracks every lesson you look at and gives you a report on how many times it’s been viewed.
xLingo is a new site that’s created an online community for the exchange of foreign language. No matter what language you speak, you can register for xLingo to offer yourself as an instructor of the languages you speak, as well as finding others that can teach you the language you wish to learn. When you register, and when you search for other users, you can select what kind of access you’d like to have on the site, whether it be via email, chat or phone. Other search parameters include country, age and gender, among other things. You can indicate on your profile your Skype status as well.
Textbookflix, despite its name, has nothing to do with movies, but everything to do with text books. With this service, you can rent text books for the semester. Launched by Chegg, which has established itself as a classifieds system for students to buy and sell textbooks, among other things, Textbookflix has created a similar system for students to rent text books in the same way that you rent movies from Netflix. Right now, about a handful of schools are participating in the textbookflix program, letting you search by university, department and course. From there, you can rent the book you need for a price far lower than the book’s purchase price. Send it back at the end of the semester. This is great in theory, and hopefully textbookflix can pull it off.
Personally, I like the sound of Tutorom, so am going to dig a little more deeply – it relates a lot to what we have been discussing in our OpenLearn groups when thinking about next generation activities. This is a great collection of ‘heads up’ articles. I’ve only quoted the opening line and main intro paragraph and deliberately not put in direct links to each site, so you can read the Mashable articles for yourself – they are filled with screen grabs and critical commentary as appropriate, and make a great resource for educators everywhere… check ’em out!
P.S. WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL (I hear you ask), especially since I’ve been so critical of elearning?
The big deal is that most of the sites described in the Mashable listings above are ‘bottom up’ in conception – i.e. they originate from grassroots-creatable content, and provide social/matchmaking capabilities to link teachers and learners. Will they work? I have no idea – certainly not until the content rises above some critical quality threshold. The trick is to push both the envelope and the quality threshold, getting good content a la OpenLearn, and good grassroots involvement, and good ‘mentor-finding’ services.