ETCon 2 – Chat Review and my Answers

There was a great discussion going on in the chat of this ETCon. Below this post you will find the complete transcript for you to download.

As I could not answer all your questions during the conference or get deeper into the conversations that were going on, I would like to do it now.

ChinaMike : businesspeople find it difficult to be educational leaders.

I think this is true. And I would also say there is a pattern that some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the education sector today have a teaching background.

Then there was a discussion about

Leadership does not change you, it exposes you.

Because of the short time I could not speak as much about it as I wanted to. But I think this is a very important point and I think I will do a blog post about it.
Basically this means that you are not changed by fame. If you are faking it, e.g. your ideals, who you are etc it will show one day. Watch the video of Gary Vaynerchuk below. He explains it very well.

Valentina_Dodge : does don’t “change it” mean don’t change main focus and community aim but still allow room for shift and dynamism?

If you are starting a company you must have a mantra. One sentence that defines what you are doing. Based on this mantra the community will gather. If you are changing this, you take away one of the 4 key factors that define the community.
For example: if you start as a marketplace for languages a community of independent language teachers will form because they want to sell their own courses on that platform. If you then decide to change your business model from marketplace into language school you take away the idea from the community with all the effects I explained in the presentation.
Of course this does not include shifts and dynamism. Example: eduFire’s mantra is “Live Video Learning” and the platform was planned as language learning platform. Today you can learn basically everything there from cooking over how to build an iPhone application to yoga classes and this was completely community driven. But this does not change the mantra itself.

ramnarayan : will crowdsourcing affect decision making mam?

Yes, of course. As it can give the company a first hand insight this should have an effect on the decisions the company is taking. That’s one of the reasons why crowdsourcing can be a powerful tool

ramnarayan : is crowd sourced content reliable?

I think busuu, italki and WiZiQ gave good answers to this. It is reliable if you are controlling it and if you have enough contributors to source from. This way you will get the best result.

Karenne_Sylvester : Thanks Kirsten. When you are calling for educational leaders am a bit confused – you mean ceos of the companies? We have numerous thought leaders in our profession.

I already tried to answer this in the chat. I really mean the CEOs of companies in the education industry. Not thought leaders. They are of course important but they have no effect on the consumers. Most of the consumers don’t even know them, reflect on exposure again. You need a company to take those thoughts and build a product around it.
For example: No one cares about scientists working hard on bio fuel or renewable energy. But everyone is listening if GM or Tesla are building an electric car. It is close to the people.
Therefore we need CEOs who lead a company with an idea(l) based on the thinking of thought leaders because they are delivering the message that won’t be heard otherwise.

MissShonah : Why should people be less respected due to “credentials” – shouldn’t they be respected due to what they have to offer (may not come from a piece of paper!?).

In an ideal world it should be like this. Right now a certification or other credentials still count more. That’s why it is important to use social media and the web to build up your digital credentials today.

ChinaMike : Kevin you say everything is created by the crowd. I have seen materials from publishers. Do you try to eliminate this kind of content from your site?

This is the new marketplace where everyone can offer their services. From tutors to professional teachers to companies. All is paid with italki credits. That does not change the crowdsourced content italki is initially based on. It is just a new feature. Correct me if I am wrong, Kevin ;).

Karenne_Sylvester : Wikipedia works because it has a very clear non-profit model , many people work together to create something new. The question for companies expecting the same sort of wiki response, is where is the model? A company cannot expect the same sort of response, can it?

I think it can under certain circumstances. Livemocha is quite a good example with the crowdsourced translation of their courses. They have the quantity of members, 3 million, and a good system of Kudos and other rewards. You just have to make the rules clear from the start, like Bernhard said. If the crowd knows what they are working on (non-profit or profit) and there is no confusion about this you will get the response. Like Jason said, people are good.

ChinaMike : Don’t tell Pearsons Publishing stockholders about the free language materials!

Well, they will have to face the “ugly” truth someday ;).

ChinaMike : What is the thread that connects all these presentations?? Could I ask the participants?

Astonishingly for me the thread was that crowdsourcing does not seem to be the “ultimate” answer for all the companies. Did not expect that. They are all very careful about the use, this was very interesting to hear for me.

Valentina_Dodge : perhaps Jason/Kirsten the crowd is now giving the direction more than the “leader”?

This happens if you have a weak leader. Of course you want to have the input of the community, first hand insight etc to help you take your decision. But this is it: in the end, the leader has to take the decision. The classic question: “Who’s driving the car?”

Karenne_Sylvester : How do you find quality teachers to teach quality lessons if everything is free.

There will be other ways of monetisation.

Jonathan_Jenkins : I can see that there is huge potential for this industry. I also see that many of the leaders in the industry are visionaries and have a deep sense of mission. How do you balance your mission of affor

Totally agree.

E_Teachers_Academy(Teacher) : do you think students treat free content seriously?

Yes, I do. Maybe not in Europe or North America but there is a large group that basically has no choice.

Thank you all for your vital participation and hope to see you at the next ETCon.

Etcon 02 Chat Transcript

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  • vickidhiman

    Great and thank you for pitching in Kirsten. Good answers.

    It was a pleasure and great opportunity to be at ETCon 2.

    • KirstenWinkler

      Won't be the last time, I hope. Thanks again for your help. Much appreciated!

  • vickidhiman

    Definitely. I am looking forward to the next ETCon already. Especially what could be the topic – maybe we can get this blog/ twitter community to help us the crowdsourcing way :)

    • KirstenWinkler

      Yes, I was thinking about this, too. For ETCon 03 I think I have a topic I want to cover, dpending on the panelists, of course. But for ETCon 04 this is definitely an option :).

  • chinamike


    I came away thinking that these companies weren't really doing much significant in the way of crowdsourcing (as for example Livemocha seems to be doing). Also it seems to me that your conclusion below is missing something. You stated:

    “It (crowd sourcing) is reliable if you are controlling it and if you have enough contributors to source from.”

    I think the key is to get the crowd to critique each others work so that the weakest work gets exposed to criticism and continuous improvement. In other words you can't expect top quality in the first go around and in addition you probably must design the work so that it can be done in fairly small increments.

    • KirstenWinkler

      I agree. As Bernhard and Kevin explained you need to make it simple for every one to contribute and to rate. italki just implemented a new corwdsourcing system for translating their webpage where you can vote on the suggested translations. And as far as I understood it, busuu's system works the same.

      As I am doing an interview with both of them soon, I will get back to this topic for sure.