The internet has touched and revolutionised everything. Then how can education remain untouched by it? With the advancement of the World Wide Web it is now possible to stream video classes for students across the globe. Researchers can also scoop up data about students, making teaching more effective.
It is exactly this which led to the birth of open learning on the internet. After successful models worldwide (read Coursera, EdX and Khan Academy), Tarun Mitra, along with Ramesh Nidadavolu and Devvrat Arya, decided to make a compact platform to address all the needs of the self-learner. LurnQ was formed in March 2011 and had its first product launch in April 2012. It became an open product supplier only in late 2012.
“All sorts of learning resources, on any subject, are available on the internet. However, there are so many choices that learners usually get confused. That’s where we come in. We wanted to provide a personalised and unified social learning experience for the users,” points out Mitra.
LurnQ, a product of Techninum Labs, is a free software that allows anyone to learn and teach. The team at LurnQ attempts to bring about a change in the knowledge sharing paradigm by bringing easy-to-use tools and familiar social media features together on one common platform.
What sets it apart is that it doesn’t create its own courses but collates other online courses to make it easier to choose. Therefore, while Coursera and Khan Academy are educational content producers, LurnQ is a software to manage all that content.
With 400 sources of educational resources being crawled on a regular basis, LurnQ has managed to build a huge resource base of over 1,000 lessons. Anything from the basics of electronics, management courses, from Java to creative writing, and from social entrepreneurship tounderstanding the workings of the Indian Railways – no subject has been left out. It is not surprising then that there are 30,000 unique active users with 60% of them coming from overseas. They have also seen a remarkable growth of 80-100% month on month.
LurnQ manages to show courses which one might be interested in based on a two step approach. First, when a user registers and chooses the topic or connects through social networking tools, the algorithm picks up information pertinent to the user. Second, interaction with various learning resources helps LurnQ show related searches. The pre-indexed learn feed shows new courses when they are announced.
The additional applications are also useful. While the digital library helps to store all the course materials, the teaching apps let people create lessons and share them.
“Consumption is fast moving to the digital format. Now a lesson can be consumed 100% digitally and might be superior to classroom teaching. And we feel nice thinking that we are making a meaningful difference in people’s lives,” adds Mitra.
The initial investment of around $1 million for the company was funded by SeedFund – an India based investment firm that invests in people and ideas that meets the needs and aspiration of new India. Mitra expects to break even in the next 3-4 years. As a principle they do not advertise the portal and rely heavily on social media websites and word of mouth publicity. With more and more professionals and young adults getting motivated to learn by themselves and outside the purview of traditional education, LurnQ can surely hope to be one of the first few winners of the trend.
(This is my article which got published last week in Business Standard. I did it without thinking much about it, but am now enrolled for 3 courses. Learning can’t really be a bad thing, ever.)