Six months ago, Chris Pedregal and Shreyans Bhansali first had an idea to crowdsource the best learning content on the Internet. Now, they’ve raised $1.5 million in a seed round led by Spark Capital, with Betaworks, Andreessen Horowitz, David Tisch, John Maloney and Terrapin Bale also participating.
Based in New York, Socratic.org offers an online, community-driven website where users can contribute and surface the best educational content. According to the founders, the platform is designed to help teachers who have been inspired by MOOCs and Khan Academy to create and upload their own free videos.
“For the first time you get a diversity of teaching styles from teachers, grad students, TAs, high school students--all with their own flair,” says Pedregal. “But they’re not getting found--they’re in the corners of YouTube.”
Socratic.org currently has a small library of 800 physics and chemistry videos, which it hopes to grow exponentially with the influx of capital. Featured videos include those from Andrew Vanden Heuvel, an online science teacher from Michigan who has shot a series of chemistry and physics lessons through Google Glass.
Anyone who has created and uploaded a video on an existing subject or topic is free to upload it on the website. The video that receives the most upvotes will be featured; others will be collapsed underneath it.
Users can also request specific videos for a topic, or suggest new subjects in the community forum and propose an outline of topics and content. The community then votes on the quality and rigor of the proposals to determine which will be listed on the site. The process, the founders say, can be as a quick as a few weeks (as was the case for physics) to a couple months.
The team of seven currently has no plans to charge. “Most of the videos being uploaded are free, so we will never charge for them,” says Bhansali. Soon, he says, there will be other kinds of content other than video, some of which they may charge for.
The long-term goal, says the founders, is to bring together latest and best learning materials resources--regardless of format. “Currently, all the best learning resources are structured by media. All the best videos are on YouTube, and all the best text lives on Wikipedia,” says Shreyans. Adds Pedregal: “Our mission to index the best learning content by the question that students ask.