Curious.com’s New Funding and Features for Learning
Justin Kitch, the CEO and co-founder of Curious.com, is serious about lifelong learning. That’s why he created the Curious.com site, a marketplace for learning with thousands of videos on various skills from growing edible plants to math equations.
The site just announced $15 million in new funding. Kitch said he will use the funding to get more teachers, more content, and help more students find the things they want to learn about. “With this funding we’re allowed to attract the world’s best teachers and provide a platform for them that will recruit the best students,” said Kitch. The new funding will also enable teachers to teach more effectively. “We have to build a platform that works well for someone who is teaching you how to use Excel and someone teaching you how to play Ping-Pong,” Kitch said.
Along with the new funding, Curious also announced new features being added to the site. Beginning last week, students can now take “courses,” and students are given the option to give “tips” to teachers. Kitch said these new features are the result of listening to customers and letting the site evolve organically. Teachers will now be able to bundle lessons into courses, which will allow a student to learn a more complex skill through a series of lessons.
At the end of a lesson, a student now has the opportunity to send their teacher a “tip” in order to show their appreciation. Tips are given in the form of Curious Coins, which are about equal to a dollar. Kitch said this feature allows teachers to offer lessons for free and lets the student decide if they would like to pay or not after taking a lesson. He said that many teachers do not want to charge students for their lessons and are in it for the love of learning. “It really works well with the Curious way,” Kitch said.
The website launched last year and was named one of Time’s 50 Best Websites of 2013. Kitch said one of the reasons he created the site was because he felt interesting knowledge is still being unnecessarily holed up in academia. “For me one of the problems that I feel has not been solved properly is effectively getting the world’s knowledge in learner’s hands,” he said. “In fact learning a foreign language through a university can be a really hard way to learn a language. There are many, many other ways to do that,” he said.
One of the things that the Internet has provided us is a new way to learn, Kitch said. “What Curious is trying to do is take advantage of the Internet, take advantage of distance that exists between the people who are experts and the people who are trying to learn something and try to eliminate those problems,” Kitch said.
Curious.com has been successful in its mission to bring more effective and diverse lessons to the people of the Internet. The site began with 500 lessons and now has more than 5,000 and has grown exponentially in teachers as well. Kitch said that right now the site is just scratching the surface. “I strongly believe there is a platform out there that can be built that’s actually better than having someone in your room teaching it to you,” said Kitch. Curious.com strives to find this platform.
For more information on Justin Kitch, check out his blog at CEO Unpluggged
Michelle is a current graduate student at Emerson College and an intern at Boston's public radio station. She enjoys exploring the world of educational technology and writing about the ever-changing sector and its potential.