New York City-based not-for-profit CourseWorld has entered the online education fray by becoming the first online ed platform dedicated to the liberal arts — and notably, the website is funded by modest personal savings and has a budget of $0.
The website, which is being managed entirely by virtual volunteers, features 16,000 curated online videos that are all hand-selected, keyword-tagged and indexed into 700 categories within the arts and humanities, CourseWorld said in a statement.
CourseWorld is designed to allow users to easily find relevant content and categories. While web sites like YouTube are easy to search, they can be difficult to browse. There is too much content, categories are too broad and quality is inconsistent. CourseWorld's offering is based on curation.
Though online learning is becoming popular among people worldwide, most platforms have been largely biased toward science and tech topics rather than the liberal arts.
The platform allows users to suggest and index new videos as well as to improve the way existing ones are tagged and categorized. Within Arts or Humanities, each video is indexed by up to three levels: categories, topics and specialties. Also, videos can be sorted by thousands of custom keyword tags. Other features include the ability to queue content for later viewing.
In the summer of 2013, 50 individuals—from high schoolers to professors, from Boston to Botswana—worked remotely to curate content from YouTube. Now, as volunteers continue to build the resource, site users are invited to join the crowdsourced effort.
Justin Belmont, founder and CEO of CourseWorld, said that, "students and lifelong learners now have an easier way to find the best arts and humanities content."
Belmont, who received an MFA from Columbia's School of the Arts in 2008, served as the internal editor-in-chief at Google and then as director of communications for Endeavor, a nonprofit social enterprise. He also is founder and editor-in-chief of Prose Media, a writing service for businesses and nonprofits. He has published two books, formerly managed Columbia's arts and literature journal, and has written for a variety of national publications. He has founded several enterprises, according to CourseWorld's website.