Education Revolutionary Skillshare Keeps Eye on the Prize With New Redesign

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Mr. Ong's profile.

Skillshare recently opened up nationally after going city-by-city while it ironed out the kinks in its democratized teaching platform; now the startup is up to 10 employees, with two starting next week and three more hires to be announced soon, says CEO Mike Karnjanaprakorn. But he had a bigger announcement today: a fairly drastic redesign, meant to reorient Skillshare to its core competancy.

“We seek to turn every community into a campus, and every inhabitant into a student and teacher,” writes CTO Malcolm Ong, in a blog post to be published later today. “One problem we’re trying to solve is around closing the ‘skills gap’ in our society. Too many people do not have the skills needed to fill jobs that are available today–especially around the things that they are the most passionate. The first step in closing this ‘skills gap’ is showcasing the skills and knowledge our peers can share and learn from each other.”

The redesign is meant to center the experience around skills; available ones and needed ones, rather than lectures or “experiences,” as some of the offerings on the site might be classified. “We wanted to make it feel more skills-based, which makes a lot of sense because our comp is called Skillshare,” Mr. Karnjanaprakorn told Betabeat. “I just felt like the personality and the feeling and what we communicated wasn’t in line with where we wanted to go. It comes down to what people think of your site when you first hit it.”

The new site features “skillset” designations on user profiles, with bigger and bolder art and emphasis on the person’s reputation. “You’ll immediately see who the user is, including overall hours learned and taught,” Mr. Ong writes. “Moreover, you’ll be able to see a user’s verified social connections (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc). For teachers specifically, you’ll see how many students they’ve taught and recommendations they’ve received.”

The most skills-based classes do best on the site, Mr. Karnjanaprakorn said, although “experiences” and other activities coexist. But Skillshare doesn’t want to be an activity hub; it’s more subversive than that. It wants to make everyone a teacher.

“Avi taught a course in Ruby and one of the students ended up dropping out of school and convinced his parents to spend his tuition on Skillshare classes,” Mr. Karnjanaprakorn said. “Those things can only hap if people are really learning these skills to create things and make the world better.”

Education Revolutionary Skillshare Keeps Eye on the Prize With New Redesign