Former Egghead CEO launches LearnBig, a clearinghouse for online education content

Online learning has exploded in the past few years, with new companies like Khan Academy and Coursera offering students a way to learn subjects without ever setting foot in a classroom. The success of e-learning has led to a wide variety of new educational videos and learning opportunities being made available to potential students all over the world.

While variety is great, breadth can make it hard to find what it is you’re looking for. One Seattle company is hoping to solve that problem by building a nexus for e-learning content.

LearnBig is designed to be a portal to all kinds of e-learning, including links to games, apps, videos, audio, MOOCs (massively open online courses) and other types of educational content. The site’s search tools include filters for grade level, subject, and whether or not the content complies with national educational standards to help users dig for the right stuff.

“We want to be the most comprehensive, relevant and trusted brand for online learning and training resources,” said Victor Alhadeff, LearnBig’s CEO and the former CEO of Egghead Software.

Victor Alhadeff

Victor Alhadeff

Getting there is no small feat, especially since there’s a lot of content to sift through. According to Alhadeff, LearnBig called on the services of a “army of interns” to seek out educational content on the web and add it to LearnBig’s database.

“As long as it’s truly educational, we indexed it and put it on the site,” Alhadeff said.

Once the content is linked through LearnBig, users can rate it and write reviews about it, which will affect how different modules are placed in search results. Once things get going, the best content should rise to the top of the site.

LearnBig also features Career Paths, which provide older students with learning programs that pull from all around the web to get them set up for a career in a skill-based field like mobile app development or 3D modeling.

Alhadeff hopes that, in addition to helping students who are already well-served by the education system, his new venture will help level the playing field for underprivileged students the world over who don’t always have access to the best educational resources in their classrooms.

While it may not seem like a perfect analog, Aldaheff says that he thinks his years helming Egghead will prove useful in LearnBig’s future.

“The retail experience in the physical world is being duplicated here in the virtual world,” he said, citing the use of demos and the ability to try things out as key components of both companies’ business models.

There is one big difference between Egghead and LearnBig, though: reach.

“When we opened an Egghead store … our trading radius was 10 miles around that store. You open one website, and your trading radius is the whole world. You take that for granted, but it’s remarkable,” Alhadeff said.

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  • Learner

    Isn’t there a Tech Stars Seattle company doing this?

    • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com/ FrankCatalano

      I know there are sites which claim to list/rate MOOCs and other kinds of online courses. And there are several sites that list, review or rate educational apps (Balefire Labs, Graphite and more). So what Victor — who wasn’t just the CEO, but also was the founder of Egghead Discount Software — is doing isn’t necessarily unique.

      Likely key will be the execution, both in how comprehensive and in how accurate the listings are. And in how he decides to slice/dice target audiences (K-12, higher ed, direct to parent, adult learning, continuing/professional education, etc.). At the moment, this space — if it is a space — appears wide open.

    • Riley Corr

      Well, if they are doing it, it looks like Victor did it first. I mostly agree with what’s stated by Frank about how LearnBig is not entirely unique, but is still filling a void in online learning. I think the key is breadth and reach–both in terms of content type and database size for the resources, but also in consolidating all the features these individual sites do in one location. LearnBig lists resources, provides a medium for producers to garner attention to their content, and then will attempt to create a community of users that shares, rates, and then uploads their favorite resources. Also eventually, the site will grow to include many more features: forums ran by users, forums ran by the website, the ability to create user mandated courses through the site, recommendations of similar resources, resources that would help lead to careers/degrees based on previously rated resources, tutoring mediums, etc. But I agree, the website is not entirely unique, but is due to the ambition in breadth and reach.

  • jr

    Online learning through websites such as Khan or MathTV.com are great for both people in the classroom and people who are not attending school.