Monday, 12 August 2013

Meet the EdTech entrepreneurs - An interview with Danny King

Accredible is a web-based tool allowing users to create digital "slates" to showcase their knowledge.
The Good MOOC interviews co-founder and CEO +Danny King.

  • Can you introduce yourself?

I'm a British education technology entrepreneur with a big dream for the future of education. I'm very passionate about learning and self-education and I'm excited by the innovations that have happened and are happening in education technology over the last few years. Like many people, whilst I loved my time at university and I learned a huge amount, I also learned a great deal outside of it. I believe that all the learning you do, no matter where you do it, should be as credible as college or university on your CV.

  • Can you describe what you're doing with Accredible?

At Accredible, we are building a place for people to document their learning journeys as they go through life. We help you to demonstrate your credibility and to demonstrate your learning, knowledge and skills by creating Slates for the world to see. You can create Slates for courses you've taken (either online or offline) or for any skill and you then upload evidence of your learning, experience or ability onto them to demonstrate your credibility. You can share your Accredible Knowledge Profile with potential employers to provide a full picture of who you are and what you can do, or you can simply use Accredible to catalogue, keep track of and showcase your learning as you progress through courses, learning new skills or working on your hobbies.

  • How did you come up with the idea and what are you hoping to achieve?

I've always spent a lot of my free time learning; reading, working on personal projects, taking online courses, watching documentaries and so on but I've always been frustrated that this kind of learning is not very credible on my resume because there is no formal credential behind it. My co-founder +Alan Heppenstall and I have set out to change that, by changing the way we think about credentials. If you have a formal credential for something - that's great, but if not, then we help you to make evidence of your knowledge or learning itself the credential. Our dream is to provide a platform for people's knowledge and expertise itself to be a credential, regardless of how or where they obtained it.

  • Has the experience yielded any surprising findings so far?

We have had people create some fantastic Slates for activities we weren't expecting - from yoga to photography to playing the violin. It's been a wonderful surprise to see how flexible Accredible can be at showing what you know. Another surprise we had was the feedback we got from users regarding motivation for online courses. By creating a Slate at the start of the course and adding their notes, assignments, quiz scores and blog posts each week to their Slates, the work they do is no longer just to pass an exam or to get through a course, but becomes a part of your intellectual identity. Several users have told us they have been producing better work because their work may be seen by stakeholders in the future and that they sticking with their courses for longer because once they've created a Slate for it with some evidence behind it, they want to see it completed.

  • What's your business model?

Accredible is free for learners; our business model revolves around helping employers to offer their best jobs to the best people for them. We will be able to introduce people to highly relevant job opportunities based on the skills, knowledge and expertise you demonstrate on Accredible.

  • Can you perhaps explain what you consider as your main differences and similarities with Degreed?

Degreed gives a holistic representation of all the things you have learned whether that's from a course or from articles, videos or books. They quantify all of this learning into your Degreed score, taking into account estimated credit hours and mastery levels, which is important for standardizing the value of different courses and learning materials. Accredible is all about demonstrating your skills, knowledge and courses by showcasing galleries of evidence and collecting endorsements, allowing you to provide a very in-depth, multifaceted view of your learning and abilities. We empower you to build your credibility by choosing what you want to showcase and provide you with a beautiful, engaging way to display that.

  • What's your analysis of the current state of online learning?

I think we are experiencing the education revolution of our lifetimes; online education is evolving at a fantastic pace. Did you know that Coursera got its first 1 million users faster than Facebook did? For the first time in history you don't need to pay a quarter of a million dollars and fly half-way across the world to have access to the world's best teachers. Now you can learn from them at home whilst eating your breakfast cereal. No longer is it about access to money or about geography. Now it's about motivation; the most dedicated students can become an expert in almost any subject with only an Internet connection and some free time.

  • Where do see higher education going in the medium to long-term future?

I think that colleges/universities will be here to stay for a long time and that that's a good thing. However, I believe that supplemental learning alongside a degree as well as continued education after college will become easier, much higher quality and more structured. This will cause learning to become almost hobby-like and I'm very excited for this shift. Whilst I do think colleges are here to stay, the education revolution happening all around us will mean that it will not be the only way to get a very high quality education and this has huge ramifications for the future; wider access to information means more experts in the world, which leads to more innovation, more breakthroughs and more opportunity. It's a very exciting time.

  • Have you taken MOOCs?

Of course! The last three I've taken were on Data Science, Gamification and Statistics. Check out my Slates for them on my Knowledge Profile. I've taken a few on Udacity, Venture Labs (now NovoEd), Udemy too in the past.The one I'm most excited for next and hoping to do next time it runs is a lesser-known course run by the Santa Fe Institutute on Complexity as this has been a pet interest of mine for a while and I've not had the opportunity to take a course on it until now.

  • Clearly you've made some effort on Accredible's UX, how do you feel about Udacity's 6 month old 'redesign'? Any advice for them?

We admire Udacity's mission to bring education to the masses along with other MOOC pioneers such as Coursera, edX, NovoEd, Open2Study, Saylor, FutureLearn, MRUniversity and all the other pioneers in this new field. It's such an exciting time to see so many engaging, high quality courses being created.

Udacity certainly have created a very well thought-out and beautiful way to access their learning content with their new design and I know they are continually working on improving it even further. I give them top marks for UX - in fact it should probably be Udacity giving advice to us as we are always working to improve our design and functionality too, to make it easier and more fun to show the world what you know.

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