The Internet has been an amazing platform for creating and distributing educational content. Khan Academy has become the canonical example cited here but terrific free content is emerging from many different sources such as the Open Courseware initiative and even Youtube. Free content was a major theme at our Hacking Education event a couple of years back and has only accelerated since.
As a result, it will be possible to learn almost anything from materials found online. But there is a big missing link and that is motivation. It is the desire to want to learn something in the first place. Instilling that desire is still best accomplished in person by a teacher who is passionate about his or her subject.
Here too the Internet provides a unique new opportunity. In addition to teachers at schools and universities there are many more people who are knowledgeable and passionate about a wide variety of subjects. This is where Skillshare comes in. Skillshare is “a community marketplace for offline classes” and the company’s motto is “learn anything from anyone.” Skillshare lets everyone who is passionate set up a class and find students.
As it turns out, one of the subjects I am passionate about is the importance of understanding probability and how it should be considered in all our decision making. My class on Skillshare now has over 90 watchers and I thoroughly enjoyed teaching the class last week for the first time. I plan to to repeat teaching this and related classes at least once a quarter. Christina and Eric Friedman have taught a class on finding a job at a startup. Fred is announcing today that he will be taking MBA Mondays and teaching a Skillshare class based on that which I expect to be wildly popular. In the meantime, there are already many other terrific classes to explore.
We are excited to be investing in Skillshare together with Spark Capital and joining a terrific group of seed investors. We look forward to working with Michael, Malcolm and the team at Skillshare in unleashing the teachers within all of us. Or as the Skillshare team puts their vision: “Let’s transform every community into a campus, every address into a classroom and every neighbor into a teacher and student.”