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Friday, February 10, 2012

Interview with Michael Schutzler,, Innovators in E-Learning Series

New approaches to online learning take advantage of new mobile devices and the willingness of learners to engage across platforms, technologies, and infrastructures. Learning languages is no different, and the focus now with new technologies, which are used in online forums, bachelor degree programs, graduate programs (for example, and online master's in Spanish), and even Ph.D. programs is all about interactivity. Welcome to an interview with Michael Schutzler, CEO of

What is your name and your relation to eLearning?
My name is Michael Schutzler. I am the CEO of, the world’s largest online language learning community. I have been formally trained as an instructor in several disciplines including Telecommunication Systems Troubleshooting, Water Safety, Zen Meditation, and Executive Coaching. I am an avid technologist, internet entrepreneur and angel investor. I am PASSIONATE about providing teachers useful technologies to make learning both exciting and effective.

What is Livemocha? is 13 million people helping each other learn skillful conversation in 38 languages. The company was founded in 2007 and is dedicated to creating a world in which every human being is fluent in multiple languages.

What is Livemocha's instructional philosophy? How does it help with learning language?
First, the team at Livemocha believes that language is a performing art, not merely an intellectual pursuit. Therefore, we emphasize skill development - in particular, we emphasize conversational competency.

We encourage and reward every language learner to try to communicate using the tools he or she learns in each lesson. Since the advent of the Internet and especially with the explosive growth of Skype, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and many other forms of communication - we encourage both typed and spoken conversation skills. Of course, we also encourage each learner to share their own native language skills with other members who are eager to learn.

In this way, everyone gets to fumble for a few minutes with a new language and then shine for a few minutes when they share insights into their own language.

In what directions would you like to see education go? Why?
About sixty years ago, our nation had a wake-up call called Sputnik. Suddenly, we were in a race to ensure that our kids were the best at math and science so we could beat the Soviet Union in military and technical development. Meanwhile, funding for public schools has eroded in the past few decades and the result is a public school system obsessed with math and science curricula while jettisoning the humanities.

We do so at our peril. The rest of the world considers bilingual a baseline requirement for higher education and professional advancement. Those powerful communication technologies I already mentioned (Skype, LinkedIn, etc.) are making it possible for even the smallest company to reach global markets. Among the Fortune 500, more than 30% of the current job openings have bilingual as a requirement. Our education system cannot meet that demand.

Livemocha wants to ensure that every person reaches their full potential through skillful conversation in multiple languages. That’s why we created the Livemocha Scholarship program. By donating 5 million dollars worth of Livemocha services to underfunded community colleges and high schools in 2012, we’re hoping to give teachers the resources they need to help students become global citizens.

What is Livemocha doing to promote language learning?
We are partnering with many organizations throughout the country and around the world. Livemocha is already in use in thousands of high schools, colleges, corporations, libraries, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and more.

Our most recent endeavor helps schools build stronger language programs with the help of native speakers and teachers from around the world.

The Livemocha Scholarship Program, which launched on January 11th, 2012, is needs-based and will give US high schools and community colleges the ability to apply for free or deeply discounted language learning solutions with the goal of rebuilding language training programs to serve our nation.

Schools can find additional information and apply for the scholarship program. Simply visit or email

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