Creating a compelling and social way for professors and students to communicate outside the classroom has been Blackboard’s service for many years, and it rakes in $400 million per year doing so. Coursekit is offering a software that is a similar “learning management system” but leverages attaining a large audience of students and teachers, instead of relying on wholesale acceptance by large organizations.
Launched by three University of Pennsylvania students, Joe Cohen, Dan Getelman, and Jim Grandpre, as have a platform that didn’t deal with the constant bugs, updates and crashes that come with Blackboard and felt more like a social medium representative of the applications they currently use.
“Our goal is to turn courses into communities online. Because when that happens, amazing things follow: people share ideas, make new relationships, ask questions, and get to know each other,” said Joseph Cohen, Coursekit’s co-founder and CEO. “It transforms the learning experience from something that happens twice a week into a continuous conversation.”
Coursekit is betting that professors will find using the software will be easier, simpler and more usable then rival Blackboard. And by being free, Coursekit is re-writing the business model for LMS applications for the education industry. By attaining adoption of a large user base and building a social platform for students to document their entire academic life, Coursekit is looking for a slice beyond the education market ($500 million), rather it’s looking for a piece of the bigger pie – the higher education market ($500 billion). By building a network of students and professors with free usage, the only logical place to make money down the road will be through advertising. This is where it may get a little tricky. Education facilities are quite particular about commercialization in schools, and although there may be no ads using the service now, this may be a pitfall or a huge windfall for the founders in the future.
If you’re a professor looking for a well designed way to host discussions, post grades and syllabi, share calendars and links, and create student profiles to engage students away from the classroom, Coursekit is a great learning management system that can be easily adopted by all users and promotes what students already love – social media experiences.