Teach the people – would you sign up?
Teach the People is a social networking site with an emphasis on learning. It’s not up and running yet, so I’ve registered for a beta invite. It has more of a content focus than a lot of the other sites, claiming that
"Instead of just messaging with other users like on traditional social networking services, users on Teach The PeopleSM are creating their own communities for fun, education, innovation; whatever! User can then fill those communities with as much content & media as they desire"
I hope it works, but I’m not sure myself, and this was based on my initial reaction – I didn’t instantly get the point as one does with social networking sites where the emphasis is on casual interaction. This goes back to a point I made earlier about whether learning is intrinsically a bit dull? Maybe if you want a learning focus you have to do one of two things:
i) Start with an existing social networking community and introduce learning tools and services in to it. For example, help people use Facebook to aid their vocational tasks, informal learning or formal studies.
ii) Start with an existing learning community and provide it with social networking tools. Take the OU students and alumni for example and provide them with an environment that helps facilitate social interaction, and learning.
In short you need a critical mass starting either from the social or the learning camps. Teach the people may be trying to do both at once, which is too steep a curve to climb. Anyway, when I get my beta invite I’ll be able to have a more thorough investigation.
In a post today (“I’m tired people, so I’m only going to say this about 1,000 more times…” – http://blogoehlert.typepad.com/eclippings/2007/09/im-tired-people.html ) today, Mark Oehlert wrote:
“We can do better or worse at creating opportunities for people to learn. We can use methodologies and technologies that seem to have a positive impact on peoples’ ability to learn; but we are NOT selling learning. So let’s freakin’ STOP talking about learning like its a product. Hey LMS CEO – you ever manage “a learning”? Hey authoring tool person – you ever make “a learning”? Can you send me one?
“So how about for pete’s sake, we all agree to start indulging in some semantic accuracy. Sell training. Sell systems that manage training or resources. Sell hardware or software but don’t tell me you sell ‘learning’ – because I swear, the next person/vendor/guru tells me something about ‘learning’ that implies a lack of understanding regarding the conditions above…I’m going to ask you to hand me one…a learning that is, and if you can’t put in on my desk..out you go. ”
At several recent meetings talking about online learning environments, I have been totally confused as to what the ‘learning deliverable’ promised by the mooted environments is…
That’s a good rant, and I agree with it, so I hope I wasn’t saying we can make ‘a learning’ here. If we start with either of the scenarios then I think tools and content that help facilitate learning are useful – for the social networking crowd it provides another dimension to the network and to the formal learning crowd it offers a different pathway through their learning experience. I think what Mark says is why learning has always been a difficult market for corporations to crack, because it’s complex, nebulous and not a product.
Thanks for writing about our product. We open our doors on Friday.
What Teach The People is trying to do is simple: Provide low cost, high quality education to the masses and reward educators/knowledge producers with a monthly/yearly subscription fee or a share of our advertising revenue.
We will consistently take customer feedback in order to make our product continuously better and to make sure it includes the right tool set for people to educate.
This is just the beginning and we have a lot of exciting plans for our product. We need people like you in order to really make a difference. Changing the world comes first and foremost to us.