Founded in 2009 and based in Paris, France, BlueTeach employs only seven professionals but already has a customer base calculated in thousands of users worldwide. The company self-describes its service as a knowledge sharing community in the Cloud and competes with services like eduFire and Livemocha to attract customers who are eager to gain new knowledge or provide tutoring services.
The service, located at www.blueteach.com, requires only a web browser to run and no additional set-up of software or hardware is involved. Actually, it is a virtual classroom, called Eclass, featuring videoconferencing tools and whiteboard that allows users to embed graphics and other objects. BlueTeach supports Google maps and images, YouTube videos, 3D games, science objects, formulas and other objects required in the learning process. Users are able to upload various types of Microsoft Office documents like Power Point presentations, text documents, spreadsheets, etc., as well as PDF presentations.
A newsworthy option is the ability to teach and learn for free if a tutor has decided to work pro bono. Such being the case, both the teacher and the student can use the service free of charge while sharing lessons on foreign languages, natural science, games, or conducting professional training. Teacher can also benefit from a built-in functionality allowing them to record their lessons and publish them on other social networks in the Cloud.
The cloud-based platform of BlueTeach is not a new invention in terms of original idea, such platforms came to life and ceased to exist in the past with at least several other companies developing similar platforms. BlueTeach can be picked out from the crowd thanks to its entirely cloud computing nature, users should not take care of any additional software nor they have to be familiar with a specialized software to conduct an online lesson, any of the popular web browsers will do the job for them. Of course, all users attending a class should have Flash 10 installed on their computers. The platform also features planning and scheduling functionality, allowing teachers to plan and manage their online classes.
Unsurprisingly, the company has adopted its own credit-based currency like many other services providing a sort of online marketplace with teachers being charged by BlueTeach for their paid lessons. Tutors and teachers are able to set their own per-hour rate while the service calculates the overall cost of a class depending on the duration of educational course of lectures. The company claims that it does not impose literary any restrictions on what can be taught online, though we doubt they offer such a total freedom of expression as the opposite will ruin the core idea of learning and teaching online.
BlueTeach, like almost all cloud-based social platforms, offers public, private, and on invitation only communication between users. It is not quite clear why a teacher looking for more students would like to make its classes private but it is a useful option if a person wants to teach lessons to a relative overseas, for example. In fact, such a functionality is more typical for “genuine” social networks like Facebook despite that most developers consider this option as something that is taken for granted in any modern communication or collaboration application.
More interesting idea, still in development, is the upcoming introduction of a co-browser, which is really an advanced feature that will be worth looking at when this functionality is available. At present, the service compensates for the lack of co-browsing functionality by allowing users to save anything pasted on the whiteboard. BlueTeach also offers cloud-based libraries enabling teachers and students to save resources in the Cloud and access them via their accounts.
In a rare public statement, one of the persons behind BlueTeach, Kemal El Moujahid, insists that the company’s solution: “Will revolutionize person-to-person learning by bringing a global online dimension to educational exchanges.” Press releases have an interesting property; namely, to read oddly in terms of words used to describe potentially useful and promising technologies. At this stage, it is hard to determine whether BlueTeach will manage to “revolutionize” the growing market for educational services in the Cloud. On the other hand, the French start-up aims to develop a service that is an essential part of a knowledge-based society and economy which tend to replace traditional communication channels with cloud-based online collaboration tools.
BlueTeach can be a real rising star, bearing in mind that their technology is developed in-house, if the company’s founders are able to ride the wave of cloud computing and apply a successful business model for the service they offer.
By Kiril Kirilov