For the third consecutive year, Apple tops the list of most innovative companies.
Language Classrooms in the Cloud
Last fall, Stanford Professor Sebastian Thrun invited anyone with an internet connection to take his course on artificial intelligence, a course that he typically teaches to 200 students. Within days, more than 160,000 students from around the world joined Thrun's course, 800 times the normal enrollment.
Thrun was inspired to open his class to the masses by the success of Salman Khan, a former hedge fund analyst who began making math tutorials for his school-aged cousin. His online video learning startup, Khan Academy, now has more than 187 million views on its YouTube lessons.
While adoption of online video lessons continues to explode, an even-newer batch of online educational startups are pioneering another medium: live video chat instruction.
Video chat is unique because it enables an off-site instructor to interact with students, to hear their voices, to see their faces, and to assess their levels of understanding. One startup in the nascent live video chat space is San Francisco-based Colingo, which is focused on disrupting the $50 billion global market for learning English, currently dominated by brick-and-mortar schools.
Colingo is taking advantage of Google Hangouts to offer highly engaging group video chat classes with a native English-speaking teacher.
"Never before have language learners been given the opportunity to engage with native speakers in a fun and dynamic classroom from the convenience of their own home," Colingo co-founder Lee Jacobs said.
Other approaches in this space include Verbling, which facilitates informal one-on-one language exchanges, and industry behemoth Rosetta Stone, which is now offering video chat classes to complement its software based activities.
Another major player in the space, with a unique approach to language learning is Duolingo. Duolingo is "a free service that helps you learn languages with your friends while simultaneously contributing to translate real-world content from the Web." The startup, founded at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, has now been funded with more than $18 million in investments from such major players as Tim Ferriss, Ashton Kutcher, Union Square Ventures, and New Enterprise Associates.
Benjamin Lowenstein, 27, Colingo co-founder, who started the firm in 2007 after witnessing the haphazard ways tour guides attempted to learn English while he was visiting South America, summarizes the boom by saying, "Marshall McLuhan, the twentieth century pioneer of communications theory, famously said, 'The medium is is the message,' and we believe the new video-chat medium will shape the educational message of the future."