Live Teaching And Learning Marketplaces: The Emerging Online Social Learning Networks For Professional Independent Educators
Live teaching and learning marketplaces are a new emergent set of online exchanges where independent teachers and educators can easily share or sell their know-how with those looking for it. Independent guides and experts can deliver live and recorded lessons using a full set of web conferencing and e-learning components.
Photo credit: Wong Sze Fei
From video conferencing to document and presentation sharing there is no shortage of features enabling passionate and talented teachers to spread their talent and know-how to an audience of eager learners.
These new online learning and teaching exchanges offer for the first time the example of a distributed and un-ininstutionalized educational venue that offers plenty of opportunity for learners while offering independent knowledge experts a qualified venue to share and commercialize their expertise without needing to be hired by a university.
If you are wondering how can quality of teaching be guaranteed in such an environment, the answer lies in an effective mechanism, adopted by most of these teaching marketplaces, whereby students themselves are allowed to rate their own teachers.
The other advantages that these online learning and teaching marketplaces offer, are many, both from a learners and teachers perspectives.
- It's cheaper than enrolling to a university course or going to a private teacher.
- You are not limited inside pre-packaged learning paths, but you can rather follow your interests and cultivate your passions.
- You can learn at your own pace, wherever you want, and finding the time which is most comfortable for you.
- You don't have to get through an exam or test to prove that you are learning something. You are self-responsible for your education.
- You can sell your own instructional material and share your knowledge with other passionate peers.
- You can teach from the comfort of your place, earning money and limiting the costs of teaching to your Internet connection fee.
- You get in touch with a far larger audience than the students you could physically meet.
- You are not subjected to any institutional rule or approach in the way you teach, and you're greatly facilitated to use live interaction and multimedia content with your students.
If you want to explore in greater detail these new emergent online teaching and learning marketplaces, I have prepared for you a list of the most interesting live teaching platforms out there, complemented with a comparative table which compares each service main features:
- Live classes: live audio / video conferencing integration
- Social evaluation: connection and mutual evaluation between learners and teachers
- Content distribution: redistribution and sharing of lessons outside the learning platform
- Advertising: ads displayed on free version
- Premium price / features: first price level to access extended features
Live Teaching And Learning Marketplaces Comparison Table
Live Teaching And Learning Marketplaces
WiZiQ is a web-based knowledge-sharing platform to facilitate live learning and teaching. Users can give or attend virtual classes and share instructional content with other people that have similar interests. WiZiQ supports full audio and video conferencing, and any learning material created inside the service can be redistributed via link or embed on web sites and blogs. Learners can rate their teachers and provide feedback about the quality of classes. WiZiQ free version includes: public chat, lessons with a maximum of 50 participants, ads displayed during navigation, and session recordings available for 30 days. Educators and students that need advanced features like private chat, lessons with up to 500 participants, ad-free browsing, or 1-year recording sessions can subscribe to the premium account for $49.95/year.
A social learning network where users can connect and share similar educational interests: That's what Sclipo is about. Aimed to both teachers and learners, the service takes advantage of a video conferencing facility that allows users to attend (or give) live classes up to 100 participants. You can also host live meetings and use whiteboarding and text chat facilities for a better interaction with learners. The integration with Facebook Connect makes easy for learners to find and get in touch with peers, but also for teachers to post instructional material on Facebook profiles. Like in other similar learning platforms, learners can rate their teachers when the lesson is over. Sclipo is ad-supported and all main features are fully available for free, though to sell paid lessons and content or get no advertising, users need to upgrade at least to the first level of premium accounts for $4.95/month.
The aim of Moontoast is to build an online human knowledge marketplace where passionate users can connect and sell their expertise by giving live audio / video classes. When a user buys credit to attend a lesson (1 credit = $1), both teachers and Moontoast earn money. Teachers can be rated by students, so it's easy to find the right teacher by checking feedback from the Moontoast community. Material shared inside Moontoast cannot be redistributed elsewhere. The service is ads free and there are no premium accounts for the time being even if developers are planning to add extra features soon.
MindBites is both a self-publishing platform and a virtual community where anyone can share knowledge and capitalize on her expertise. Users are free to explore MindBites and look for passionate peers, but can also purchase specific video lessons from teachers that distribute their content inside the MindBites marketplace. Each registered user can provide feedback and rate the content purchased or watched. Like Moontoast, you have no subscription plans, but rather credits you can collect for $0.99 each and use to compensate the teachers. Lessons you buy can be viewed online or downloaded, but not be redistributed unless explicitly released under a CC license. MindBites is free to use and users will not see any ads browsing through the site.
ForteMall is a web-based learning / training marketplace which provides both a global knowledge-sharing platform, and all the instruments to manage online learning transactions and exchanges. Teachers and learners can connect with each other in live conferences and trade their skills and expertise using the secure payment feature that relies on companies like PayPal. Teachers can also share instructional content on other web sites through a dedicated widget. ForteMall users can rate the quality of the service and the work of teachers. The web service is built on a freemium model, which means that basic services are all free, but optional features are available upon request. Teachers that desire more visibility for their courses can pay extra money to have their lessons featured inside special categories, listed on the homepage, or the name of their courses written in bold. Prices available inside the FAQ section of the site.
Ailola caters to both students and teachers who want to share and sell their expertise online. Learners can connect with other passionate peers and share their knowledge, while teachers have access to a worldwide elearning market to sell instructional content and give live classes. Real ratings by other students provide insights about the quality of the instructors. Audio and video conferencing tools are standard for all Ailola registered users. Instructional content traded or transferred inside Ailola cannot be redistributed on other web sites or across the web. The service is free to use and ad-supported.
xLingo works as an exchange community which facilitates people around the world to connect and learn a foreign language. Users can e-mail each other, participate in forums or group discussions, and even start their own mini-blog to share and receive help. Audio and video streaming, as well as the option to rate the work of other users, is not supported for the time being. The service survives thanks to advertisement, but users can get rid of ads and get more storage for their xLingo mailbox by purchasing a premium membership priced at $20/year.
EduFire is a distance education platform and social network service that allows live tutoring online through text and video chat. Originally promoted as a language learning engine, EduFire has later broadened its offering by adding text preparation courses and a wider range of topics. Learners are free to join in and share their experience. Teachers can charge a variable fee to put their learning material for sale and pay Edufire for providing audio and video streaming tools. Edufire is not ad-supported, and registered users are welcome to rate and provide feedback on the content published.
Eduslide offers a public learning content management system to create, upload and access slides of whichever topic you like. Unlike other competitors that focus on live video conferencing or video content production, Eduslide just keeps it simple and allows registered users to create presentations to showcase and share their knowledge. Each content is open and subjected to ratings from the Eduslide community. Eduslide is an open source project, meaning that anyone can download the source code and build upon it to improve the service. Eduslide is ads-free and does not provide any way to embed or redistribute published elearning material.
Busuu is a community language learning platform where users can help each other to improve their language skills by collaborating and / or exchanging learning materials. Busuu provides more than 150 interactive learning units for four different languages (English, Spanish, French, German). You can also use the service search for language schools and book language courses abroad without any additional cost. No live video classes are available for the time being. Learners are welcome to rate their teachers and evaluate the learning content they have used. Busuu is free to use, but to get additional features (grammar units, podcasts, language-related video units, etc. ) a premium account starting form €7.99/month is needed.
Robin Good -
Originally prepared by Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on May 11th, 2009 as "Live Teaching And Learning Marketplaces: The Emerging Online Social Learning Networks For Professional Independent Educators".
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