Reinventing the Library
London EdTech start-up Bibblio is curating digital content to create a 21st century learning experience
“I think education sometimes gets a bad rep, a lot of people seem to think it hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years or so, but that’s not true,” Says Mads Holmen as we chat next to the obligatory dinosaur at Bibblio’s trendy London office.Education gets a bad rep, people seem to think it hasn’t changed much in the last hundred years or so Click To Tweet
We have to recognize that people are now getting their information from a huge variety of sources Click To Tweet
“At the same time, however, we have to recognize that people are now getting their information from a huge variety of sources, and that they’re bringing their expectations from the way they interact with content on platforms like YouTube to the classroom. That is a gap we need to bridge when it comes to knowledge discovery.”
In 2014 Mads left a successful career in advertising to do precisely that, starting Bibblio with his Co-founder Rich Simmonds. After securing 175K in initial funding they’ve since partnered up with a host of prestigious institutions such as National Geographic Education, Open University and Oxford University Press.Students bring their expectations from their interactions with content on platforms like YouTube to the classroom Click To Tweet
“The fact that they trust us with their content is a huge vote of confidence, and it allowed us to quickly grow and improve our offer dramatically. In a world of too much information, your users need smarter discovery tools.Bibblio is essentially a digital librarian that digests and curates disparate information sources Click To Tweet
Bibblio is essentially a digital librarian, delivered as a service, that digests and curates all these disparate information sources out there and delivers what is relevant to each user.”
His own experience of technology in school and the early years of the Internet helped to inspire him:
“Most of all I remember the feeling of knowing more about computers than the teachers instructing us, and I suppose that is still true in today’s classrooms, where children are digital natives and adults are constantly catching up with the latest developments.Children are digital natives and adults are constantly catching up with the latest developments. Click To Tweet
I always loved watching the Discovery Channel, and very early on I started using the Internet to find out more about the subjects that interested me. This was the big revelation that opened up a whole new world of possibilities.”
That concept of the Internet as a 27/7 personal library is what he feels EdTech hasn’t quite cracked yet. Sure, search tools have never been better at finding specific information when you know what you’re looking for, but the missing link that Bibblio wants to provide is to replicate that in-depth, curated experience that you get when interacting with an actual librarian.The missing link that Bibblio provides is the in-depth, curated experience you get with a librarian. Click To Tweet
It’s that serendipitous sense of not knowing quite what you’re looking for until you find it Click To Tweet
“It’s that serendipitous sense of not knowing quite what you’re looking for until you find it. A librarian has such in-depth knowledge of the content they’re curating that they can make connections you’d never dream of. That broadening of horizons, being exposed to knowledge that you wouldn’t have sought out otherwise, is the key to the way digital learning environments need to support students in the future.”
By bridging the gap between the dauntingly large volume of content that providers make available and the overwhelmed end-user fishing for relevant knowledge, Bibblio is staking an ambitious claim to a $5.6 billion eDiscovery market, which in turn sits within an Educational Publishing industry worth over $70 billion and a $200 billion Smart Content market.
Bibblio is staking an ambitious claim to a $5.6 billion eDiscovery market Click To Tweet
As they move forward with their expansion, the plan is to grow fast and become the go-to utility provider for that industry, helping millions of educators and learners discover better content, making recommendations that also help to broaden their horizons and make better sense of the vast quantity of information available.
“The key is to empower people to learn,” concludes Mads. “We don’t know exactly what the future will bring, so the best way to equip students to the challenges ahead is to future-proof their education.The key is to empower people to learn Click To Tweet
By that I mean that we need to focus on metacognition, or ‘learning to learn’. In a world of limited content it might have made sense to memorize a core canon of knowledge and to see education as a linear process with set beginning and end points. In a world of limitless content, however, the emphasis shifts to life-long learning and transferrable skills, and educators will need to embrace technology to help students achieve this.”
Alice Bonasio is a VR Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.