When we first covered Learnable back in January 2011, the Australian startup was about to launch an online course marketplace similar to what Udemy has been building in the US with a wide selection of topics ranging from yoga to language learning.
But very quickly Learnable got back to its roots, trimming the course offerings to web design and coding related topics. And in a way it made sense as the project was born out of the very successful ebook platform SitePoint which specializes in learning material for coders and designers.
I also regularly point out that the most successful courses on platforms like Udemy are usually around subjects in programming and web design, targeting the young urban worker on the search for a job at a tech company or learning the skills needed to launch a tech startup.
We also heard a lot about coding in schools with initiatives like Code Year or Code.org with its star filled video and the UK just made coding part of the curriculum in public schools. And though I agree that coding is a desirable skill, I am going to learn some myself in the coming months, the usual hype around the topic calls for drastic measures if you want to get heard.
Learnable decided to put a number on its initiative: $10 million. Backed by its co-founder Mark Harbottle who is also the founder of 99designs, Learnable is giving 10.000 Australian students free access to all content on the site for three years. With a monthly subscription price of $29 that sums up to $1000 per student.
Leni Mayo, the co-founder of Learnable whom I interviewed for EDUKWEST back in 2011 states that
“Australia is near the bottom of the OECD in creating students interested Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). I’m concerned that Aussies kids are missing out on the opportunities created by the technology and communications revolutions. If we don’t teach our kids the skills we need as a nation, we run the risk of being left behind.”
I hope that Learnable is going to share some data on the performance of the students who sign up for the free access down the road. I often see that free offers lead to low retention rates and would probably add some other incentives that keep those kids motivated.