When I was teaching, The Dream for me was that my students actually thought about what we discussed in class outside of class. While I was not delusional enough to believe they were forming supplementary book groups outside of class to further discuss Austen and Shakespeare, I wondered if they ever thought about the books we were reading and the discussions we had outside of our 45-minute class periods.
Sometimes after particularly interesting class discussions (or so I thought), I’d post additional discussion questions to our class page in the hopes that my students, energized by our discourse and eager to delve deeper, would engage in further conversation via postings. Visions of page-long, thoughtful responses to each question I posed on the page danced in my head.
Obviously this didn’t pan out in the way I expected it to. Our school used a classroom management system where students could check grades, turn in assignments, and have discussions, but the platform was fairly dull and students often neglected to check it. After all, why would students want to spend time on a boring classroom management system when there were more engaging social media sites to peruse such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest? As a result, I could practically hear the womp, womp, wommmppp sound effect in my head as I checked our class discussion page the next morning to find zero new postings.
However, if the classroom management system the school used had been more interesting to the students, perhaps it wouldn’t have felt so much like pulling teeth to engage in some outside discussion.
A company called Lore (formerly known as Coursekit) is working to make course management systems more efficient and engaging for students by creating a social network-type platform for students and instructors. Since Lore’s launch seven months ago, instructors at over 600 schools (including Ivy League universities Harvard and Princeton) have adopted the Lore platform. The platform centers class discussion around a newsfeed a la Facebook in order to encourage student engagement while also providing features such as gradebooks, document upload, and calendars for instructors.
Lore co-founders Joe Cohen, Dan Getelman, and Jim Grandpre are ex-Penn students who dropped out to develop Lore with a mission to make it the largest learning platform in the world. They want to make education more engaging by creating a global network of learners and teachers.
Educators who have implemented Lore are pleased with the results. “I used to receive a ton of emails from students sharing links and now they post them all on Coursekit [Lore],” said University of Oregon Professor Carol Stabil. “Within a week of the class starting, students were creating their own profiles, posting content and sharing interesting pieces of information online.”
Sound similar to another social network you may have used?
So far Lore has raised $6 million in funding with investments from former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya and Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel.