Building and booming an innovative learning platform for online academies.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
He wanted to run his own online school and “didn’t want to deal with IT, or sign a long-term commitment with third-party learning platform vendors,” explains Ridvan Aliu, CEO of EDUonGo, a platform that allows anyone to launch their own academy, build their own school, and provide a great education to the world. Ridvan couldn’t find a system that met his needs and ended up partnering with colleagues to build a robust and user-friendly platform. “Since maintaining and customizing a learning platform can be quite costly, we wanted to build a system that had more features, was easier to maintain and was much more flexible to customize” than anything else out there, and EDUonGo has a lot to offer the 1,000+ academies it serves.
Victor: Let’s talk about its development history.
Ridvan: We have created a platform that can be used in a variety of markets for many different applications. When we ran the beta in 2012, we really weren’t sure on which market segments we were going to focus. We decided to focus on letting anyone launch an online school or course. Our strategy worked, and in less than nine months EDUonGo had more than 1,000 registered academies.
Albert Einstein once said, “I do not teach anyone. I only provide the environment in which they can learn.”
Victor: Anything interesting about your own background that informed your current approach?
Ridvan: In my career experience, while working for companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and Disney, I hired engineers that were self-educated and gained knowledge on their own. Working alongside those talented individuals, it became clear to me that learning doesn’t always require a classroom. At EDUonGo, we enable anyone to launch academies and courses within minutes, and have the resources they need for an effective learning environment in one place.
Victor: 60-second pitch?
Ridvan: EDUonGo enables everyone to share knowledge through an online learning environment. Schools, institutions and individuals partner with EDUonGo to host online academies through its cloud-based platform. With more than 1,000 registered institutions and 7,000 users worldwide, EDUonGo is the fastest and most powerful way for anyone to launch an online course.
Victor: Any direct or indirect competition?
Ridvan: One of the biggest differentiators between EDUonGo and our competitors is that we offer a complete system that allows any school or organization to launch an online program in minutes.
Victor: Any highlights about test marketing it or starting out? Any interesting feedback, reaction to it?
Ridvan: We were surprised by the large number of high school teachers who use EDUonGo in their classrooms. In particular, many teachers use EDUonGo to flip their classroom, and schools are starting to adopt EDUonGo to flip an entire school. For example, we are working with one of the pioneers in flipped learning, Greg Green, principal of Clintondale High School, to deploy EDUonGo for the whole school, which is just north of Detroit. Greg has shared with us that he enjoys the collaborative features we built into EDUonGo, and believes the learning platform will “take the flipped school and transformation process to the next level.”
Victor: What else can you say about the value and benefit of EDUonGo?
Ridvan: EDUonGo is a cloud-based solution that has no setup time, resulting in greatly reduced IT cost. Anyone can launch academies and courses within minutes, and have the resources they need for an effective learning environment in one place. Every feature we developed for the system has collaboration in mind. The learning environment enables instructors to generate quizzes and assignments, and track student progress with a fully integrated grading system. In addition, students can communicate and collaborate via the environment’s built-in social network.
Victor: Anything else in the works? Additional products, features or series, angles?
Ridvan: On average we update our platform once a month with new features and improvements. Soon students will be able to receive text message reminders on assignments and projects, and teachers will experience advanced analytics and reporting. Users will also benefit from more authoring tools such as screen casting and slides creation.
Victor: Your thoughts on education in general these days?
Ridvan: In 2012, 53 percent of college grads were jobless or underemployed. Worse, many students have a huge college loan to pay back once they graduate. I’ve hired many software developers who didn’t finish college but managed to educate themselves, and have a very successful career.
Students today need to take charge of their own learning, and teachers should become mentors in the process. Albert Einstein once said, “I do not teach anyone. I only provide the environment in which they can learn.” This is what EDUonGo does. We provide the tools to foster a learning environment.
Victor: Any guidance or advice to educators these days?
Ridvan: The days of having teachers standing in front of the classroom giving lectures is over. Teachers need to become coaches and mentors. Learning does not—and should not—happen only inside the classroom. Technology is a tool; if teachers leverage it correctly, they can improve the learning experience tremendously for students inside and outside the classroom.
Victor: Anything more you’d like to add or emphasize?
Ridvan: We treat every customer as our partner; your success is our success. Whether you’re teaching a single course or delivering training to hundreds, or even thousands, of learners, our team will work to help you achieve your goals.
Victor Rivero is the Editor in Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: [email protected]