Cool Toys Pic of the day – BetterFly, Brainery, Skillshare, TeachStreet

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of rumblings about, well, the higher
ed bubble bursting. One article called higher ed a sacred cow that
serves no purpose but no one is allowed to question it because it is
SACRED, duh. Many people are concerned about the general economic validity of the higher education model of adult learning,
others are concerned about the combination of the student debt load and job crisis, and still others concerned more
fundamentally that the current model of education is simply not the
best way to learn in our rapidly changing society. While the concept
exploded into public awareness over the past month and a bit, it isn’t new
to the leaders in higher ed, trust me on this. People have seen this
coming, and have been working to predict, propose and create
environments to support new models of education. One of the best
pieces I’ve seen on this was a presentation given in 2008 by John
King, then Vice-Provost for Information Technology at the University
of Michigan.

John Leslie King: Librarianship, Now and in the Future:

Yes, it is an hour and a half long, but you know something? I’ve
watched it more than once, and I am the busiest person I know (and I
know a lot of people). It is WORTH the time. In this video, Dr. King
lay out the historical context for how education got to where it is
currently, what cultural and environmental pressures shaped it, and
what current similar pressures are engaged in moving it now into new
paths. He even went so far as to brainstorm a bit on some examples of
models that might work for higher ed. One idea he proposed was that
institutions like UM might, in a sense, curate collections of gifted
teaching faculty wherever they might be, shifting from a focus on a
residential university to a more competency-based model. He described
people finding teachers in their community to tutor them in the
necessary concepts and skills, and then testing out of the courses for
progress toward their degree, working at their own pace.

Well, there various tools out there right now trying to do similar
things, but without the degree component. If you don’t think so, take
a look at this small handful of services coordinating bringing
together people who want to teach and people who want to learn (with
or without payment in the picture).


Brooklyn Brainery:


Brooklyn Skillshare:



9 thoughts on “Cool Toys Pic of the day – BetterFly, Brainery, Skillshare, TeachStreet

  1. Very cool that you included TeachStreet in this article — we’ve been working on the lifelong learning opportunity since 2008, and are extremely excited about the innovation (and visibility) happening in the space.If you’d ever like to discuss in more detail, just ping me (easy to find on twitter, email, and across the interwebs 🙂 )Dave Schappell — founder of TeachStreet

  2. Thanks, Dave! Yes, you are easy to find, and I will connect with you across the various social media “tubes”. 🙂 I’m trying to collect spaces working in this area, and would love to hear of more. I remember seeing some that I can’t find anymore, and also know of small home-grown efforts as well as the big guns like Phoenix that follow more of a semi-traditional model. Trying to sort of overview the options in the space. Would love to talk with you more about this, perhaps interview you for my other blog?

  3. Some others that you can add to your list (there are so many awesome new companies/ideas):Sclipo, Udemy (we have a TeachStreet Deal going live with them today…), eduFire (think they have a new launch coming soon), Zozi (more of a deal site, but they have a ton of great experiences/classes as deals), Thumbtack is really nice/slick interface, and many more — but, most of these are in the space that’s far different from U. of Phoenix (that’s more degree-focused)Onward!Davep.s. you can email me at dave -at- teachstreet…

  4. Sorry — one more thing. You should also check out Kirsten Winkler ( and Edukwest ( — she’s in France, and covers the next-gen learning-focused space extremely well, and she’s awesome to talk with

  5. Thank you so much, Dave! This is wonderful! I think Sclipo was the one I was trying to remember. I will definitely be emailing. w00t!

  6. Thanks for the plug, Dave.Great post, Patricia. Did not know about Betterfly yet, so thank you. And I agree, Dave is a must have in your contacts 🙂

  7. Looks like I am a little late to the party, but wanted to thank you for mentioning Betterfly in this great post. Patricia, we have a connection – I graduated ’03 from LSA and ’04 from the Business School’s Accounting program and spent many a nights in the libraries. We love what’s happening in the education space and what Dave and others are doing. I’d love to connect and talk more about the space and where it’s going. Joshua SchwadronFounder, Betterfly.comJoshua

  8. Will shoot you an email, Josh.Patricia, thanks for following on Twitter, looking forward to your Tweets 🙂

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