An Adelaide couple’s platform takes education to new levels
Cameron England, Business Editor, The Advertiser
ADELAIDE education start-up Opentute is here to teach you a lesson — on an adaptable social learning platform they have developed over the past two years.
The husband and wife team of Travis Clapp and Katya Komarova have already provided a platform for clients including the University of Adelaide and the Wine Industry Suppliers Association, and are enrolled in Slingshot’s HR-Tech Accelerator in Sydney.
As part of that process, Ms Komarova will take to the stage at a demo day in August in front of potential investors and partners, in a bid to raise between $500,000 and $1 million.
The Opentute business takes some inspiration from the popular Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) model, but blends it with a social interface so users and supervisors can interact and add a social and dynamic aspect to learning.
Mr Clapp gained experienced in the MOOC field working on The University of Adelaide’s successful AdelaideX program, which delivers online learning courses through the edX platform. The university’s courses, in particular those in the wine and entrepreneurial sector, have been a great success.
Mr Clapp has been involved with instructional design over the past 10 years or so and said there were often barriers to engagement with learning.
“Especially with workplaces, but in general with anything to do with online learning.
“So after a few iterations, the result of that was we created a social enterprise version of a learning solution.’’
What this means is that students who are doing, for example, an online course for their induction into a new company or as part of a course of formal study, can also have access to a newsfeed-style interface where they can interact with other students and teachers.
This allows the learning process to become more social and reactive, rather than the passive delivery used by many educational products currently.
The Opentute product can be a white-label application which companies or people can use to develop their own learning modules themselves, which they can then use internally, sell as branded products, or use on their websites and social media.
Mr Clapp said the university was using the product in a traditional MOOC manner to educate those working in emergency departments to work with people with addiction.
“We’re also working with the CEO of WISA and we’ve created what’s sort of being referred to as a Facebook for the wine industry.
“They’re using it as a virtual marketplace where you can connect, communicate anywhere in the wine industry.’’
Mr Clapp said that the application would also be useful for educational organisations to keep in contact with alumni, among many other uses.
“What happens traditionally with learning management systems, is you’ll pull the piece of learning you need — the bare minimum you need to do — but you don’t use it as your instant messaging platform.
“You go somewhere else to do the social part of it. We are combining that in one tool.
“We create the opportunity to have a white label, cloud-based collaborative learning solution.
“It’s very easy to build pieces of learning. It enables a cyclic immersive experience.’’
Ms Komarova, who has a background as an entrepreneur running her own fashion label and is COO of the start-up, is enrolled in the Slingshot accelerator which is based at Barangaroo, Sydney.
The HR-Tech Accelerator claims to be the first of its kind in Australia and aims to help “progressive corporate leaders to reinvent the human capital elements of their business by connecting them with the best disruptive HR start-ups’’.
Ms Komarova said she was based in the program full-time, preparing for the pitch day, after winning a place in the program from an initial pitch.
“I started in May … there are lots of networking events, mentoring and workshops. They are helping us to take the business to the next level, to scale it up,” she said.
“At the conclusion of the program we’re going to have a demo day with up to 500 investors and potential partners. We will be raising money, but we are also looking for partnerships.’’
Being a software as a service product, the Opentute platform starts from as little as $199 per month for up to 50 users, with the platform saleable depending on the size needed.
Slingshot is headed up by Karen Lawson, who was previously head of CareerOne.
As part of the accelerator process it takes a 10 per cent stake in the business.