E Learning Platforms

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Provo Labs‘ business model is becoming more clear. We will be acquiring a huge amount of content (text, images, audio and video) in selected vertical markets. (First two examples: ldsmedia.com and worldhistory.com).

Then we will offer free access to some important subset of this content (to attract visitors) and paid access to the premium content which we license from our content partners. And of course we will do all kinds of internet marketing: SEM, SEO, affiliate, email, viral.

We will also enable our users to contribute content, tag it, rate it, share it and otherwise add value to what we are offering, thus increasing the value of what we provide.

Finally, and this is the important step that has only become clear in the last two weeks, we will be offering online courses or classes in the vertical markets. We are looking for experts in entrepreneurship, stock market investing, family history, gardening, photography, blogging, and other subjects, who can teach our online courses.

When I was at MyFamily.com in 2000-2001 we knew a RIF was coming. I had the best admin in the world, but I knew her job might be affected but the upcoming cuts. In fact, I felt the entire MyFamily.com division of the company might be shut down. Some of the executives were trying to pull the plug on the entire “free family websites” strategy.

So we had about 30 days to turn my assistant from a “cost center” into a “profit center.” The idea I came up with was for her to find experts in genealogy who could teach an online family history course using the MyFamily.com web site technology as the elearning platform.

Within a month she had found some instructors and launched some successful classes. I think she generated $14,000 in the first month. But alas, she and the rest of the MyFamily business unit were still cut.

The company went on to deliver hundreds of online genealogy classes using the private family web site technology to deliver them. They continue to offer them today.

So Provo Labs will follow a similar path. It is a good way to generate revenue by combining content and community.

But, what we don’t have yet is an e-learning platform that will work well for us.

So, please, dear reader, let me know if you’ve ever taken a wonderful online class, and who you took it from. Or if you know of a great e-learning platform (Phil is looking at one open source project that starts with a k- I think) where we could plug in our content/search engine, our expert, and our community, and start generating revenue and a whole lotta learning.

Note: I am no longer a director or employee of MyFamily.com. I left management in February 2002. My opinions are purely my own fantasies and in no way reflect any reality of what is going on there. (I’ve been asked to write disclaimers whenever I blog about MyFamily.com)

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7 Responses

  1. As someone with degrees in Latin Teaching and Spanish Teaching and Business and who currently teaches the Wedding Planning classes for UVSC (continuing ed 0-credit), the three local Macey’s stores, and Everest College; I hereby volunteer to teach a Latin for Genealogists or Wedding Planning class (or anything else my background would help with.) Oh, I could teach a phpgedview class! Anyway, holler if you need me. And as you may recall, AuctionVideo evolved from an e-learning platform (cf. SharpEnglish), and since you’re already a customer of some of his other stuff you oughta’ give Greg a call. He’s got one of the best Flash programmers in the world on his team, and as you know is cool enough to gladly advise you on all your options.

  2. I graduated from Weber State University with a Business Administration degree last May. As part of my curriculum, I was able to take many online classes. I remember one particular class that was very educational. It was a capstone simulation class called “Foundations of Strategic Management,” and it was taught by Dr. E.K. Valentin. This course really helped me tie all of the different business curriculums that I had learned together. The capstone simulation game that we played in this class helped the students understand how a company needs to function in todayâ

  3. Hello Paul,

    We recently developed an e-learning platform and course content for small business owners to learn how to better manage their businesses. We have 7 courses launched at this point and many more in development. (www.e-myth.com/e-learning)

    After searching the e-learning space for platform vendors we decided to build it ourselves. I had taken a few online classes at university which were good, but the platform was so static, it felt like reading a book on a computer screen and then taking a test, the platform the problem.

    So one of our “must haves’ was a platform that was engaging in that that made up for the lack of personal interactions by offering things more multimedia entertainment.

    The UI also had to be very intuitive, so the learner had the tools they needed close by but could focus on a single content area (video, content, notes).

    Another thing that really makes this platform unique is the ability to do guided worksheet / exercises using real voice and screen shots to illustrate how to use the tools.

    What we learned is a â

  4. Richard Robbins

    Hey Paul,
    Having worked in international business (mainly importing and exporting between the U.S. and China) for awhile, I would be interested in contributing in that area. Your WorldHistory.com project seems interesting. I started a site a year ago called DiscoveringChina.net. The idea was to inform westerners about Chinese culture, and it was to include information on their history, the current business and political settings, and even bus routes and transportation information for non-Chinese speakers who visited China. That project got put on the back burner, but if you are interested I may be able to help develop that part of WorldHistory.com.

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