EdSurge on Edmodo

EdSurge comments on the new features in Edmodo released last week – with some interesting observations on the Edmodo business model:

It’s business model is also still a bit opaque. So far, Edmodo, which reaches close to 1 million teachers and 10 million users overall, continues to offer all its tools and resources to teachers for free. It charges companies that offer their products through its platform: Crystal Hutter, Edmodo’s COO, says that more than 250 publishers are offering free or premium apps through the Edmodo platform.

More from EdSurge.

The new features look…. okay. It’ll be interesting to see whether any of the students I use Edmodo with pick up on Insights (I don’t plan to flag it to them just yet). Right now, I’d settle for some decent resources management functionality in the Edmodo Library.

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Discovering Books

One of the problems with the long tail is discovery. It’s all well and good for the internet to enable you to access 1,000,000’s of [insert type of content here], but how do you discover content that’s relevant to you?

Tech Crunch quotes Otis Chandler:

Chandler notes that “the publishing industry has a huge discovery problem, because books are going digital” and brick-and-mortar bookstores are disappearing.

(My emphasis.)

I love my local book shop. Why? Because I can wonder in and discover interesting, thought-provoking and entertaining things to read. The shop has limited shelf space – no long tail here – and so must carefully curate what to fill the shelves with.

As we move more and more to online book retailing and eBooks who’s going to perform that curation? Is it only going to be friends and acquaintances making recommendations through real and social networks? Is it going to just be the retailers automated ‘other readers like you liked…’ recommendations?

My local book shop doesn’t have a web site. But they have been known to order books in for me via Twitter. How can they continue to offer that valued curation service in an all-digital world?

One option might be through services like Good Reads (Otis, quoted earlier, is the CEO of Good Reads). I could imagine a Wallingford Book Shop group on something like Good Reads as a way of extending that valued curation service beyond the physical walls of the store. Likewise, an extension of the school library via a group that recommends and discusses books for students.

Somewhere in there there’s a business model. Someone, I’m sure, already has it nailed.

Free hacker school

Here’s an interesting model. Programmers get to go to school, for a very specific education, for free. The provider, in this case Hacker School, gets paid by taking a recruitment fee from the employer…

Hacker School is free as in beer. This is possible because startups pay us to recruit. If after Hacker School you want a job, we will help you find one. If you don’t want one, or you’d prefer to search on your own, that’s fine too.

It looks like a great way for start-ups to build a pipeline of appropriately skilled talent. From the other side the model also helps ensure that as an educator you’re providing students with exactly the skills and attributes a subset of employers need.

Reading about the model, I was reminded of the talent pipeline Microsoft built, hiring straight from college (university) into big impact product teams like Windows and Office. No better place to learn and hone a skill set.

Small companies and start-ups don’t have the recruitment power and internal strength of companies like Microsoft. So Hacker School’s approach is a nice twist.

I’m not sure how well this translates to secondary schools in the UK. How would you feel if your school budget was based on hiring decisions of local employers? Would you feel any different if it also factored in offers from college and university admissions tutors?