Why Dream to Learn?
We created Dream to Learn to help our members build healthy, vibrant learning communities that nourish their dreams to learn. We believe that education is about more than subjects and courses -- a good education teaches you how to learn, how to collaborate, and how to live a richer life. Today, such an education is available only to a minority who happen to have the necessary money, family upbringing, personal drive, or luck. In the long term, our ambition is for Dream to Learn not only to help people learn together about specific subjects, but also to make the benefits of a good education freely available to many, many more people.
How is Dream to Learn Different?
The social networking space is a crowded one, with Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Reddit, MeetUp and many others providing various options and services. The online education space is also rapidly maturing, with Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) providers like Coursera and EdX delivering services to millions of users.
Four things make Dream to Learn different:
- our users,
- our communities,
- our values, and
- our exclusive focus on online learning communities
1. our users
Dream to Learn is not for everyone. Our users are:
- passionate about personal learning and development, and
- committed to constructive engagement with others
- committed to sharing knowledge and experiences to make the world a better place
By carefully selecting our users, we avoid the twin extremes of the public internet: on the one hand, discussions that are open to everyone and that get at best sidetracked into irrelevance and at worst derailed by hateful speech; and on the other hand, discussions that are kept completely private and that can’t get the benefit of new, unexpected, but constructive inputs.
We select our users in three ways:
- self-selection: Dream to Learn attracts users who are already passionate and constructive.
- software algorithms: our platform uses software algorithms to ensure that users who are not being constructive, or who are not committed to personal learning and development, are not able to disrupt the experience for those who are
- guidance and training: if you go to a good college, you learn not only about academic subjects, you also learn how to to learn, and how to be collegial. In the same way, our ambition is for the Dream to Learn platform to guide users to become more collegial, and more oriented toward learning. This is to be sure a long term goal; in the short term we are focused on the first two approaches to selecting the right users for Dream to Learn.
Does Dream to Learn have a monopoly on users who are passionate and constructive? Of course not. You find people like that everywhere. But we've all had the experience of reading a thoughtful, insightful posting on the internet, with a small-minded, hateful and off-topic response that ends the constructive conversation. What's unique about Dream to Learn is our focus on building a broad community of only passionate and constructive users.
2. our communities
Dream to Learn is its communities. Our communities have three key qualities:
- they are purposeful, meaning that each community is organized around a goal or purpose
- the members of each community share personal learning or development goals
- they are organized around collaborative, participatory learning. Today's teacher may be tomorrow's student.
A list of existing and potential Dream to Learn communities will help make this clear (and please keep the suggestions coming)
|Singing||Learn to be a better singer and to appreciate singing better|
|Working for a software company||Help people who work for software technology companies to be happier, more effective employees who manage their own careers|
Of course, Dream to Learn doesn't have a monopoly on such communities. You can find them on Facebook, on Google+ -- you can find them everywhere. But, they are hard to find, because they are often hidden by all the other kinds of communities that surround them. On Dream to Learn, we are focused exclusively on helping our users build communities that are purposeful and that help their members learn and grow. This makes serendipity -- finding a community that happily introduces you to completely unexpected possibilities -- much more likely.
3. our values
The values that drive Dream to Learn are central to who we are, and how we are different. Our key values are:
- our users always control their content and their privacy. You always control the privacy of your community and everything you create on Dream to Learn, from completely private to completely public. We will never change your privacy settings for you. You retain ownership of everything you create on Dream to learn (you grant us a license to use it, within the privacy parameters you determine, so long as it stays on the site). You can permanently delete your content at any time (for content you co-author, all your co-authors must agree to the deletion). For more information, see our terms of service.
- we are a social enterprise. The goal of Dream to Learn, Inc. is to help our members build healthy, vibrant learning communities that nourish their dreams to learn. To do this, we are building an (eventually) profitable company which can take care of its employees, and attract the talent to build the best possible platform. But building a profitable company is a way to achieve our goal, not the goal itself.
- in the long term, we want to help make the benefits of a top college education available to a wide audience. A top college education doesn't just fill you with information about subjects and courses; it teaches you how to learn, and how to collaborate. In the long term, our ambition is that Dream to Learn will help to share those benefits with many more people.
4. our focus on online learning communities
Dream to Learn is building a new platform from the ground up, focused exclusively on building online learning communities. Many of the other options out there (Facebook, Google+ and so on) need to be all things to all people. We don't.
A consequence of this focus is that we are not trying to achieve feature parity with the other options that are out there. We will never have all the features that Google+ or Facebook have. For those features that are essential to building online learning communities, we either implement them ourselves, or, more likely, integrate with the other solutions that are out there. So for example, we aren't going to build a small-group videoconferencing solution. Google has done a great job of that with Google hangouts, and we will allow users to launch Google hangouts from within Dream to Learn.
What's novel about Dream to Learn is not our individual features, or the number of features: it's the integration of the key features to build online learning communities better than any other offering out there.