Bite-size e-learning platform Coursmos, which reckons there’s room to squeeze a little learning into busy digital users’ lives by breaking study topics down into small, easily digested video chunks, has closed a new round of funding — topping up the seed money that saw it through to launch last year.
The $530,000 in new funding comes from Russian VC Imperious Group and an unnamed angel investor.
It’s since launched a web platform and an Android app — and has now bulked up its seed investment to keep developing its feature-set and scaling its user base.
Coursmos describes itself as a mini-MOOC purveyor, working on the premise that the problem with the (free) e-learning phenomenon known as massively open online courses is that these courses are too long and attention-demanding, requiring e-learners to give up too much of their time to complete them, which in turn results in disengagement and high drop-out rates.
The startup’s fix for this is to break courses into very small pieces that can each be consumed on the go in a matter of minutes and better slotted into busy lives, i.e. rather than having to set aside multiple evenings every week to complete a MOOC.
Obviously the depth of learning you’re going to achieve from watching a handful of video clips sporadically vs the concentrated learning of engaging properly with a full MOOC is not going to be on a par. But little bits of learning are more likely to fit into more people’s lives so Coursmos believes it can engage more people with online learning.
Course content on Coursmos is crowd-created. It offers course across multiple categories — from business to design to health & beauty to art — but content is currently heavily skewed towards the business learning space. Personal development and technology are other relatively well populated categories.
For an example of Coursmos content here’s a micro-course on how to pitch Dave McClure — by Dave McClure.
Since launching its web platform back in March Coursmos says it has amassed 1,500 courses, made up of 6,631 micro-lessons — which gives a sense of how small these micro courses really are. It has a total of 70,000 registered students thus far, with active users around the 30,000 mark.
The startup said it plans to use the new funding to expand its team and develop new features including a Netflix-style intelligent course recommendation system based on users’ history and interests; better lesson search engine capabilities by converting video content to text to make it searchable; adding YouTube integration; and offering a third party content widget to enable Coursmos lessons to be embedded on other websites.
Also on the feature to-do list are in-browser video-editing features for instructors to make it easier for them to produce polished micro-courses for the platform; gamification features to encourage lesson and course completion; language localization to expand Coursmos’ reach; and updates to its iOS and Android apps.
Commenting on the funding in a statement, Pavel Aleshin, Head of Investment Expertise at Imperius Group, said: “Instead of trying to build another MOOC, Coursmos recognizes that people are looking for a more convenient way to learn on-demand. They want a solution that fits their schedule and attention span.
“We were impressed with the unique micro-learning concept and the opportunities that it gives to both students and instructors: intelligent recommendations, a personalized curriculum, and easily-accessible and searchable content.”