Back in October we already reported on the Brazilian MOOC platform Veduca after it had raised a seed round. In February, this round was then followed by an investment from Macmillan Digital Education (disclosure: Macmillan Digital Education supports EDUKWEST at the publication of this post).
Back then I wondered
“… why no startup in the LatAm education space is creating something similar based on the universities in the region instead of relying on the free material that US based campuses are uploading on the Internet. Same is true for Europe, of course. I think there is some big potential in recording lectures of renown professors in South America.”
As so often in our fast moving space, things change quickly. The German MOOC platform iversity which aims to take the lead in Europe just announced the winners of its MOOC Production Fellowship. And today Veduca launched its own first two MOOCs in partnership with the university of São Paulo, (USP).
The interesting part is that similar to courses at edX students are going to receive a certification from the University after they successfully completing their MOOC. Students can choose between Basic Physics and Probability & Statistics.
There is also a clear focus on quality from the university’s side. Vanderlei Salvador Bagnato, author of the Basic Physics course is quoted in the press release that
“Classes available in Veduca have exactly the same content for our past students of USP in the classroom. When students take the final test, we will evaluate students who have studied via Veduca with the same rigor.”
Along with the launch of the two MOOCs by USP Veduca introduced a couple of new features to the site which aim to facilitate and enhance the online learning experience. The new features include
- Tests and quizzes during the classes: at the end of a topic, the video is paused automatically and exercises are given to the student. The student can answer the questions or skip to continue watching the video;
- Virtual notebook with notes referenced during the video: there’s no need to pause the video or leave the page, as the student can take notes on a virtual notebook. The annotations are referenced in the video at the time they’re written. When reviewing your notes, users are able to find out what time in the class something was written down and can watch the passage again;
- Search in teacher talk: it is now possible to search words in the teacher talk while watching the video. The results are highlighted in the timeline of the class, and students can click on each result to play the video from the speech researched;
- Related materials for download: teachers now have an area to provide extra materials for download, such as lists of exercises, supplementary readings, tables etc.
- Online forum: one of the main tools of the MOOC, it allows everyone attending the same course to exchange information and assist each other when studying. You can also add tags to identify the content of the topics discussed and facilitate research in the time to study;
- Related news: using the algorithm ContentSense ®, developed by Veduca, stories related to the theme of lessons are combined with the videos. It is the same mechanism already available in the online version of the newspaper O Estado de S. Paul and portal Free Ratchet, which are suggested Veduca classes that help explain the concepts covered in the news.
Going back to my post in October, the ContentSense algorithm is something that sets Veduca apart from its international competitors and probably made the platform attractive to early investors as this is patented IP.
Come the time one of the competitors thinks about acquiring its way to the top, the ContentSense algorithm could be a deal maker. Of course, it could also become a strategic advantage, enabling Veduca to create better online learning experiences and therefore attract more learners and therefore revenue in the years to come.
Today Veduca offers over 5500 classes and since its launch in March 2012 the portal has had about 1.7 million subscribers, with 900,000 unique visitors. The platform has 42,000 registered users.