Welcome to an interview with Eric Hung, co-founder of Educator.com.
1. What is your name, affiliation, and relation to elearning?
Hi, my name is Eric Hung and I'm the co-founder of Educator.com. I've been with the company since its launch in 2009. My co-founder and I created the company after college to address a problem of having less than stellar instructors in our high school and college career. We imagined a site where you could access all the best instructors' lesson.
|Eric Hung, Educator.com|
Educator.com is an online math & science instructional video service (think Netflix for online tutoring). We help students reach their potential with effective and time-saving videos taught by passionate teachers. We differentiate ourselves from other services by going really in-depth with an average course length of 30 hours. Our platform also uses two videos, one traditional video that shows the handwriting of the instructor, and another video of the actual instructor to give our lessons a one-on-one tutoring feel.
3. What is Educator.com's target audience? What are some of the services and offerings?
Our target audience is the high school or college student who needs help in their math & science courses. We specialize in AP exam help for high school and pre-medicine courses for college students. Some examples of our top courses include Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, and AP Calculus AB. We fill the gap for families who value education but either can't afford private tutors or have inconvenient schedules, as well as give students a 24-hour option for help in addition to in-person tutoring.
4. What do you think are some of the most intense challenges facing young learners today?
I think one of the most intense challenges is wondering if what they are learning in the classroom will actually help them in the future, aside from passing the class and scoring well on standardized tests. I always get asked if my college degree in Biomedical Engineering (Duke) and Master's Degree in Medical Devices (USC) helped me out in creating Educator. I respond with a resounding yes, that the background aided me in fact checking lessons in the beginning. But how it really helped was how it instilled my work ethic and interpersonal skills along the way. I doubt I could get great instructors to take me seriously if I weren't educated myself.
5. Young learners may prepare for high-stakes standardized tests by following a specific instructional strategy. What is it?
I believe the strategy to prepare for high-stake tests is to first understand the underlying concepts. However, then the edge goes to students who can afford to take prep courses where they can focus on strategy and tons of practice. I definitely believe there's a place for standardized testing, but that it should just be one piece of evaluating a student.
6. Learners may be good at taking high-stakes standardized tests, but lack the confidence to be creative. How can you help build that confidence?
I believe it starts both at home and in the classroom, with parents and teachers nurturing students' natural curiosity. Standardized tests might be a necessary evil but they shouldn't take all the classroom time which could be spent with more creative projects. I also hope that parents aren't too obsessed with afterschool test prep to let their children pursue other non-academic activities.
7. What are some of the theoretical underpinnings incorporated in the Educator.com offerings?
Our primary belief is that great teachers can change everything. If you ask anyone to think of their best teachers, they usually don't have trouble coming up with one, but seldom do you find someone coming with several. Educator.com aims to change that by finding the best teachers for every subject.
Our secondary belief is that there needs to be a personal connection with the instructor. I know that with static videos, it's a little tough, but we think that with our two video model, just seeing the instructor in addition to their handwriting and slides, can make the lesson much more effective.
8. Can you tell us something about the software, interfaces, and architecture? How is it better than the competition?
Our primary difference is in our two video interface which combines both handwriting and slides along with a video of the instructor. We believe this leads to a better learning environment.
We also dive into subjects more in-depth than our competitors and break down each lesson down to each individual topic and make it searchable. This way our students can search and find exactly what they are looking for. In creating the syllabus of a course with an instructor, we actively tell them to create their dream course where everything they feel students need to learn is included.
9. What are the theoretical underpinnings that assure you that example and sample questions are effective and demonstrate learning?
This is one area we can see some room for improvement. As of now, our lessons include several extra worked out examples at the end of each lesson, along with a "quiz bank" underneath each video. However, we are working on getting the questions to be adaptive so students can find out what skill they are missing and quickly watch the segment in the video again.
10. What are some of your strategies to assure engagement and persistence?
There are only a few students that will actively sit down for 30+ minutes to watch a video and we understand this. That's why we handpick our instructors to be as engaging and effective as possible.
We ask them to weave in real-world examples and be as passionate as possible.
We find persistence is tied to really helping students out in their homework, classes, and exams. However, we also find that our subscriptions are cyclical with the school year and that more students sign up a month or two before the AP's and/or finals, and pause their accounts during summer.
Some of the things that make Educator.com special:
1. Dropdown Menu Screenshot (100+ courses, screenshot shows our science courses, top courses right now are organic chemistry and biochemistry + a variety of AP's)
2. Instructor Introductions (meet our awesome instructors and also check out the free sample lessons and syllabus below)
3. Sample Video in Biochemistry (full free lesson where you can see our unique learning interface which has two videos, one of the tablet slides and one of the instructor, to give it a one on one tutoring feel)
4. Tons of Example Problems (almost all lessons have several worked out example problems that go over types of questions students will likely see in class)
5. Sample Questions (most math lessons will have sample questions beneath each lesson, and almost all subject lessons have study guides and downloadable lecture slides)
6. In-depth syllabus (every lesson is broken down by sub-topic and time so you don't waste time and can search for the exact part of the video to watch)