The CEO of this open learning platform seeks to create a positive and disruptive impact on education. Whether a student wishes to become an expert in macroeconomics or she is interested in learning more about abstract expressionism, the Course Hero site provides needed materials to help all students achieve their goals. The company invites learners to login, watch, read, share, collaborate, annotate, teach, achieve—and enjoy. For an earlier interview, click here. Here, Andrew discusses entrepreneurship, customized solutions and the future of education and technology.
Victor: It’s been a while since we’ve talked, what have you and Course Hero been up to?
Andrew: We’ve been really busy these last few months designing exciting new learning tools that we’ll be launching this fall and early next year. We just released Course Hero Flashcards, which allows anyone to create, edit and search for flashcards. Users can test themselves with multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank quizzes, which is an awesome way to assess progress during the learning process. We’ve also built in additional timed, shuffled terms, and scored options so students can build quizzes that test themselves in a variety of ways to ensure they’ve mastered the material. We’ll be continuing to add new features to this offering over the next few months.
This fall, you’ll also see us roll out the first version of our optimized learning program that will help students design the best, personalized study regimen based on their needs and schedule. So stay tuned for that in the next few months.
Victor: How do these developments play into your long-term vision for the company?
Andrew: Course Hero has always focused on providing a platform for students to share and access high quality study materials, and we are now in a really exciting evolutionary phase where we will be providing our users with a more comprehensive learning system. What that means is that Course Hero is expanding beyond just helping college students study more efficiently into a space where interested learners can come to Course Hero and engage in the learning process within our platform. We plan to eventually cover everything from introducing new material, studying it, assessing confidence with the subject matter and progressing to the next level. We are excited to be providing a full ecosystem where users can come to learn.
Victor: Why is a service like this relevant right now?
Andrew: We know that millions of students are already using the Internet and search engines to conduct research and find information to supplement their studies, and Course Hero provides a wealth of easily accessible tools and resources. However, students aren’t just going online to look up information, they’re heading online to engage with it whether through dynamic text, modular videos or online games. Course Hero will enable students to have that same engaging experience without leaving the platform.
Victor: You were recently named one of BusinessWeek’s Best Young Entrepreneurs—pretty cool! Talk a little bit about your experience as a young entrepreneur…
Andrew: I founded Course Hero while still in college, which was an amazing time to pursue being an entrepreneur given the wealth of resources that surrounded me. From professors who were willing to mentor me, to exposure to lecture series and classes, to the students around me—I had so much support and a network that I could consistently tap into whenever I had questions or needed advice (which was often).
Entrepreneurship is a process that requires endurance, optimism and action. Building a company, a team, a culture, a market change, or anything of significance takes time, and I’ve learned that the road is long before any sustainable success. But while the journey can often feel like a wild roller coaster ride, I have to say that the daily problem-solving culture, for me, is the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur. Being recognized by BusinessWeek has been a tremendous honor, and I am just excited that I get to do this every day.
Victor: What was it about education and technology that drew you in to the space?
Andrew: Proximity. I founded Course Hero while I was in college where I was surrounded by the challenges my peers and I were facing. My passion for edtech continues to grow every day as I see the potential for technology to positively transform the future of education.
Victor: The message from Course Hero seems to be a lot about making education affordable and available for interested learners around the world. How do you plan to expand Course Hero beyond college students? Are you doing so already?
Andrew: Course Hero’s Educator Platform is 100 percent open and free. It went live over the summer, and it allows students of all ages to engage with experts in the fields they’re passionate about. Educator Platform content definitely caters more to the college/continuing education demographic.
Flashcards, which are also free to use, is our first foray into the K-12 space, and we hope to launch more products and relevant content for students in K-12 over the next couple of years. In the near future, we are exploring the possibility of developing full courses for K-12 and continuing education users, which is a project that we are really excited about.
Victor: What are your thoughts on education today—what are the major issues and challenges?
Andrew: The current education format hasn’t changed much over the years: professors teach at students who go home to learn the material to then pass an exam at the end of the semester. Course Hero has always been dedicated to helping students learn more effectively by providing tools that cater to this current education format.
However, I think we’re entering into a really exciting time for education, especially at the intersection of education and scalable web technologies. We will start to see the first true B2C companies making a major impact on the education landscape. And the recent economic crisis may be another catalyst in the positive disruption of education. The economic crisis has had a devastating impact on education budgets, so academic institutions need affordable, innovative solutions that can deliver high quality education to a wide audience at a fraction of the cost. I believe that technology is well positioned to revolutionize the industry.
Victor: Thoughts on the future?
Andrew: Technology is just beginning to go beyond making our current learning process more efficient and moving to impact the way we learn. With online modular learning systems, digitized and dynamic “textbooks” and gamification, technology is revolutionizing the way that interested students can access, process and master the material they want on their own time.
Education is on the verge of an innovation explosion, largely due to the promise of consumer edtech companies. Students are demanding solutions that make their lives easier, and after all, when it comes to education, the student is the consumer and he or she will demand technologies that suit their specific learning needs. Customizable solutions will be key.
Victor Rivero tells the story of 21st-century education transformation. He is the editor-in-chief of EdTech Digest, a magazine about education transformed through technology. He has written white papers, articles and features for schools, nonprofits and companies in the education marketplace. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org