Expanding Education with Skillshare
An industry audit
In 2010 Michael Karjanaprakorn launched the startup, Skillshare, with a mission to make education widely accessible to the public at a reasonable price. Karjanaprakorn was prompted to create the educational platform after he realized that he had become less creative and innovative during his academic career. The New York City-based company would adopt a peer-to-peer sharing model with the belief that anyone could be a teacher, thus allowing the sharing of information between anyone with relevant skills to upload a video for others to watch.
Skillshare allows its consumers to access over 26,000 video courses for a monthly fee of $15 or an annual plan as low as $8 for each month. These courses are ad-free and can be taken at the pace of the subscriber. The topics of business, creativity, technology and lifestyle encompass the largest categories of Skillshare’s content. The business has additionally built a valuable community-based network into its website and app to provide feedback for its users. Instructors do not need to be certified or pass certain credentials to contribute their content to Skillshare.
Although, Karjanaprakorn explained in an interview with Entrepreneur.com that the company monitors its videos similarly to YouTube. Videos that are flagged as inappropriate by viewers are taken down, while content that thrives is pushed to the top. The founder further clarified in the same interview that he does not believe his start-up is a replacement for traditional learning, but instead a complimentary service.
However, the educational model of Skillshare is not a revolutionary idea. Khan Academy and Lynda are just some of the business’ top competitors for providing internet sanctioned learning. The major difference between Skillshare and its competitors is their subject matter, intended audience, and price. Khan Academy differentiates itself from other online education sites as it caters to subject matter found through traditional education and is free to use. Lynda, on the other hand, releases content that is much more similar to Skillshare.
The major difference between the two companies is that Lynda seems to target professionals, while Skillshare focuses on providing its service to a general audience. This distinction can be observed by comparing their subscription prices as Lynda ranges from $25 to $38 a month, while Skillshare gauges between $8 to $15 a month. Another difference between the competitors is that Lynda has stricter requirements for those who wish to teach on its platform compared to Skillshare.
I believe that Skillshare is overall a positive force, although it has some unintentional negative impacts. Skillshare has beneficially provided an educational outlet for the public at a reasonable price. This provides an excellent learning source for those who wish to learn more about a budding passion, people who cannot afford comparably expensive in-person classes, and those who want to flex their teaching muscle in a relaxed environment.
Additionally, the capabilities of video allow users to playback information, which is especially helpful for those with learning or hearing difficulties. Lastly, the Skillshare model allows viewers to access a variety of content with any tablet, laptop or smartphone at any location that possesses an internet connection, increasing accessibility.
Yet instant convenience to educational material alludes to the idea that applying knowledge is as easy as acquiring it, when in reality it requires hard work. The sharing service also negates the idea that in-person interaction and adaptable teaching are necessary for a user’s experience.
In the end, I believe that the sharing and subscription economy has benefitted society. Businesses based on these models have proven to grow from a simple start-up to a successful enterprise.
Higher rates of access, affordability, and friendly environments have often developed from an internet-driven economy. Sharing models have especially tried to highlight the concept of human individualism or connectivity into the seemingly anonymous internet.
Even though some negative attributes still plague the new economy many of these companies have vastly improved the user experience by listening to online dialogue.
The sharing and subscription economy, although saturated, has added value to people’s lives who utilize the unique offerings of the internet.