A young, can-do CEO shows how to build a world-class educational video library.
INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero
A new, cloud-based video learning platform created to make multimedia learning easy to implement, Mobento is for all age groups (K-12, higher education or even professional development). Featuring a free, online library of carefully curated videos for the K-12 market and Private School Accounts for academic institutions to create interactive multimedia courses for their students, the platform helps to organize content better, and provides content quality control.The video learning platform combines the best educational content with innovative technology to deliver a more personalized and effective learning
There is good video content out there for education, but there hasn’t been a good way for teachers to find high-quality, free videos quickly.
environment for students while empowering educators. Sumner Murphy, the young (23ish) American founder of what essentially aspires to be “a free to use library of the world’s best educational videos” — discusses some of the basics, a bit of his own background, and the ins and outs of providing great technology to a generation that he, if anyone, should closely understand. And the name? With characteristic insouciance that betrays $1.7 million in recent funding the New York and London-based startup has received, “It doesn’t mean anything. We needed a name. It sounded nice.”
Victor: Why is there a need for Mobento?
Sumner: Videos can inspire great curiosity and motivation in students at school, leading to a deeper level of understanding of a concept. There is good video content out there for education, but there hasn’t been a good way for teachers to find high-quality, free videos quickly. So I created Mobento.
Victor: How does Mobento make it easier for teachers to find videos?
Sumner: We make it easy to find high quality content in three ways:
1. The organized supplemental content on http://www.mobento.com saves educators hours of time and frustration by taking over the laborious task of finding the best free videos for education. We currently offer over 4,300 high-quality videos in 26 categories (subjects) for teachers to use in their classroom. We currently offer content from sources such as: Khan Academy, TED, NASA, Yale, and Cambridge.
2. Mobento has next-gen search technology built into the platform that searches the spoken word in multimedia content. This allows teachers and students to quickly find the place in the video that speaks about what they are searching for. For example, a student might search for “enzymes.” Mobento will return all the videos that speak about “enzymes” and highlight the part of the video where “enzymes” are spoken. This saves the user time and allows them to jump straight to the relevant part.
3. Our iOS and Android apps allow users to find and view content on the go. We even allow users to download this content to their mobile device for offline viewing!
Victor: How are teachers using Mobento?
Sumner: Mobento was designed to help educators enrich their lessons in traditional, blended and flipped classrooms.
In traditional classrooms Mobento.com and our School Accounts have made it easier for teachers to demonstrate concepts through video and have given students a great learning and revision resource.
In the blended and flipped classrooms, Mobento has not only been used as supplemental content, but also to create engaging multimedia courses for students with School Accounts. In one flipped school Mobento works with, every student’s iPad is preloaded with the Mobento app and teachers create small lessons and courses for their students to work through in class and as homework.
I am very happy to see that teachers and students are able to use the system so easily and in such a robust fashion.
Victor: Does Mobento work on mobile devices?
Sumner: Yes, teachers and students can access Mobento via our iOS and Android apps. The apps have been designed for both smartphones and tablets and give the user the ability to stream or download content to their device for offline viewing. Tablets also offer students the ability to take notes on courses and content they are viewing.
If School Accounts are being used, users will have access to the same apps, but with additional features such as analytics and student progress. This progress is saved and synced up with the users personal account.
The apps can be downloaded for free from iTunes or GooglePlay. Links to the apps are posted on Mobento.com, GooglePlay.com and iTunes.com.
Victor: What school subjects are covered in Mobento?
Sumner: Mobento’s educational videos are organized into 26 subject areas for middle and high-school. Subject areas, including: history, math, social studies, biology, chemistry, computer science and more. Educators may search for relevant individual videos by key word or browse through full “courses” of content that is already sorted for them by subject.
Victor: Can schools add their own content?
Sumner: Yes, this feature is included as part of our paid School Accounts. Teachers who want more control and features can purchase Mobento School Accounts. With these accounts, academic institutions have a private space to upload and distribute their own content, organize it into courses, and monitor the progress and engagement of their students. We also give institutions the ability to use our public library’s resources in their school account to help jump-start the learning process.
Victor: What’s your background? Anything along your way that has informed your current approach?
Sumner: My background is in math and computer science. After leaving NYU, I started a Web consulting company and one of our clients was in the edtech space. I was fascinated by the space and decided it was a path I wanted to pursue. I have also struggled with dyslexia, and am passionate about helping students have a better learning experience.
Victor: You’re young now, what will education look like when you’re 80?
Sumner: There are so many different ways that education is evolving that is hard to say what it will look like when I am 80. But I hope that personalized learning will have developed greatly by then so teachers can help students be the best they can.
Victor: Thoughts on education in general these days?
Sumner: I think that better use of mobile devices is important to educating this generation. The fact that students spend so much time on their personal devices shows that this is an area they feel comfortable with and this should be taken advantage of in any way possible.
Victor: It’s been said some students are ‘visual learners’ – seriously aren’t we all?
Sumner: I think contemporary society has increased the number of visual learners out there, but I don’t think everyone is a visual learner. I attribute this growth to many digital services such as YouTube, Facebook, Google and TV.
Victor: Any companies in edtech you really admire? What makes you say that?
Sumner: There are many, but some are: Amplify, Duolingo and Codecademy.
Victor: Any thoughts on future trends in the education technology space?
Sumner: Online learning, mobile devices, bring your own device, gamification and competency-based learning are all growing trends.
Victor: Anything else you care to add or emphasize?
Sumner: The Mobento library is free to educators. All they need is Internet access. I encourage teachers to try it out to see all the great content that is there for them now and start bringing lessons to life.
Victor Rivero is the Editor in Chief of EdTech Digest. Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
FWIW, I have created a website of public domain instructional materials in Mathematics and Language Arts. I began writing these materials long before the web came into existence. I sent a copy of everything to the National Science Foundation. They eventually sent me a kudos letter for my work. You can find my website, where a copy of the the NSF kudos letter is also located, by googling for “public domain materials” and my name: “Mike Jones”.