Back in the spring, an online learning service called Curious.com launched. It let real people with a skill become teachers, and aimed to be a higher-quality, more humane and interactive environment for video-based learning than YouTube. It was founded by Justin Kitch, who also started Homestead, an early build-your-own website service, which old-timers such as myself remember fondly.
Curious’s iPad incarnation features the same lessons as the web-based one — two thousand of ‘em at the moment, on topics from tennis to dog training to cooking to brewing to Photoshop, many of which are featured in collections such as “Fit & Active,” “Tasty Treats” and “Game On.” You can start watching something on the web, then pick it up on the iPad or vice versa. Both versions let teachers upload file attachments and allow students to ask questions and upload photos and videos of their own.
The iPad app displays video in full-screen mode and lets students use the iPad’s camera to record videos to share with teachers and other students. Teachers can’t record classes on the iPad, though — Kitch told me that its camera isn’t capable of the quality Curious likes to encourage.
Curious is still in a sort of training-wheels stage: It’s carefully vetting prospective teachers and the lessons they create, and gives students “coins” to pay for content. Eventually, the service plans to ramp up the quantity of instructors and content and to introduce a real payment system. It’s already useful and engaging, and the iPad is a particularly good vehicle for the sort of lifelong learning it’s trying to enable.