Skoodio is a wholly student-driven teaching and learning world that leverages the power of community, feedback, and portfolios to dramatically accelerate learning.
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Skoodio is a consumer Internet product that leverages powerful components of a studio-based teaching and learning model to help and encourage student learning in critical 21st century skills such as problem solving, design, collaboration, and communication.
Our product suite includes:
1) A portfolio solution that lets students easily archive, share, and experience their student work in digital form (the Dropbox for student portfolios),
2) A survey creation tool that helps students leverage crowdsourcing techniques to create, manage, and administer online surveys or ‘crit reviews' around their work (the Quora.com for student work),
3) A social learning network for connecting students (the Meetup.com for students), and
4) A public and private contest space for student work (the 99 designs for academic and professional organizations)
James Truong, Founder & CEO. James has worked in the education vertical for over a decade as a student, teacher, technologist, information architect, businessman, entrepreneur, and software designer. He began his career in education with Teach For America as a special education teacher in Bunn, North Carolina. He has a long history of leading the design, development, and implementation of large scale, org-wide business applications and systems in top education-related organizations, including Kaplan and New Leaders for New Schools. In 2008, he led the team that was awarded Salesforce.com’s Appy Award for Best Nonprofit Deployment, a national recognition. He feels strongly that if school systems cannot find a way to dramatically supplement its traditional teaching and learning model it will lose a generation of students who in the coming decade will learn at an exponentially faster pace online and through other digital outlets. He has an MBA from Vanderbilt University and a Masters in Education from Harvard University.
Josh Dunn, Lead Designer & Developer. Josh has nearly a decade of experience in the design strategy, illustration, the creative arts, and Web design/development. As a freelancer and consultant, he has worked with a very diverse set of clients, from small startups to Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola and Sony. He has spent the last three years as the Art Director for Wax Poetics, Inc., a bi-monthly music journal focused on soul, jazz, and R&B. He has a BFA from the College of Creative Studies, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a strong passion for transforming education, having grown up with parents who are both public school teachers.
Jason Chumley, Advisor. Jason is an award winning high school English teacher living in Durham, North Carolina. He began teaching with the prestigious Teach for America organization, and among his many recognitions is winning Teacher of the Year for the state's largest high school, and being chosen by North Carolina State University for their Inspirational Teacher Award. For many years, Jason spent his summers working for College Summit, a national non-profit dedicated to college access for at-risk students. He was a prized trainer for the organization, being chosen to lead the training in college essay writing when Janet Reno volunteered to be a writing coach for a weekend program. He later went on to be a trainer and a quality control specialist for the organization, reading several thousand college essays each year and developing strategies for improving the curriculum. Currently, Jason sees private clients for college essay coaching, in addition to running an after-school program for at-risk students that he co-founded with a fellow teacher. His Master's thesis collection of short stories at Duke won the Best Creative Thesis award for the Liberal Studies department.
Some of our early thoughts and hypotheses on revenue models include:
1. A freemium model. Unique to the Skoodio student portfolio experience is the ability for students to create feedback surveys (we call them crit reviews) around their work. These crit reviews or applications can be won, earned, or purchased. A set of these will be made freely available for the user to use in perpetuity to build online reviews. For a monthly charge, however, users can incorporate premium crits into their peer reviews that are more robust than the free crits and allow for more direct and targeted feedback. An example of this kind of crit would be our forthcoming CrocoDoc crit which will leverage CrocoDoc’s API and allows users to receive direct feedback and comments on their papers through any browser. Other open sourced, media editors with APIs will be incorporated into the site to create a longer list of premium krits.
2. A transaction-based model. Skoodio intends to create a space for ‘certified’ experts or professionals to provide their feedback and guidance available for payment. Based on algorithms, tagging, and other criteria, Skoodio will recommend and make available feedback experts to authors for potential purchase during the ‘advisor selection’ stage of the social survey creation process. Skoodio will take a percent of this transaction.
3. A SaaS model. While Skoodio will initially focus on the consumer marketplace, our roadmap includes the development, sale, and licensing of private Skoodio accounts for classrooms and schools. These private and secure accounts will allow a teacher to both administer online peer reviews within her classroom or school and to create, archive, and share consumer-grade, student portfolio experiences that will inspire and motivate academic work.
It is important for Skoodio to maintain a for-profit model that works to sustain and focus its resources on building, selling, and supporting the absolute best student portfolio product and experience in the marketplace. All that said, we are working on defining a model that will provide low-income and under-resourced students and/or schools access to free, premium accounts to our tools and Web services. Providing the same tools to low-income, under-resourced students is an important part of closing the academic achievement gap. Skoodio envisions a world where every student can have access to Skoodio and all of its tools to safely express his or her authentic, learning self.
In the consumer space, our competitors fit into three general buckets:
1. Ad hoc peer review sites such as social networks that offer media-related uploads and opportunities to comment, including Facebook, YouTube, etc. Today, students are uploading their digital work on these massive social sites for general 'comments' and seem to value some basic information such as the number of 'views' each upload receives. We think this existing user behavior is a strong proof point for what students might upload onto Skoodio if given a safer, more learning-centric experience.
2. Consumer-centric digital portfolios such as Dribbble.com and Behance.net. These are some of the best consumer-grade social portfolio sites on the marketplace yet they are primarily focused on the creative or graphic arts and offer only minimal channels for giving or receiving feedback.
3. Other online peer review or feedback sites such as ConceptFeedback.com or Notable.com. In our mind these closely resemble the kind of feedback sites that are coming to market. Most of these are niche sites that focus on providing feedback for a specific target media type such as Website design or graphic arts.
Our primary differentiators in the consumer market will include:
1. Our online feedback survey and application toolkit. Core to Skoodio’s strategy will be the development of a unique method and application that helps students leverage crowdsourcing techniques to collect feedback and data around their work or learning experiences. To enable this process Skoodio has designed a method that incorporates the use of spaces or question buckets that is the fastest and easiest way for creating an online survey on the Web today.
2. Our ecosystem and vertical integration. While many of the aforementioned competitors provide core 'feedback' and 'media-upload' experiences, none of them offer an all encompassing stack of a) all media formats (text, audio, video, and photo), b) all media editors/feedback tools, c) dropbox-like sharing utilities, d) mobile/multi-touch sharing capabilities (e.g., iPad), e) game design, and f) a long-term social learning and mentor network. We think long-term, sustainable advantage of our company will ride on the fact that we will do all of these things really well and that we will continue to evolve our product suite and experience into the next century.
3. Our consumer-oriented user experience. Skoodio will be the first to the market with a consumer-centric (or student-centric), Web 2.0 digital learning portfolio experience. In our world, the student identifies his or her own standards through the creation of crit reviews and, unlike other student portfolio solutions, our platform is not dependent on insitutional standards. Dependency on standards, in my experience, almost always leads to an inferior consumer experience.