Company to Watch: 2tor

From the guy who brought you the Princeton Review (how to study for the SAT) comes 2tor.  In its “about” page on its website, 2tor claims:

We supply universities with the tools, expertise, capital, and global recruiting needed to compete in a space currently dominated by unexceptional programs.

That is, in the market saturated with UofP’s, an Ivy can, ostensibly, enter in, raising the overall quality of the education.

Using a tweaked version of Moodle (think the Redhat version of Linux), 2tor has begun its quest with a partnership with University of Southern California’s school or graduate education (2tor provides the platform, USC the curriculum/content).

USC/2tor's distance learning portal

USC/2tor

A fuller exploration of the business (with some critiques) can be found at the InsideHigherEd.com post.  Also found there is a link to the screen shot provided here which shows the general distance approach in question.

As an overall information portal, I see some very positive possibilities here:

  • live chat
  • scheduled curriculium (especially important in distance learning is an intuitive method of tracking and determining what is due when
  • quick access to “school-related” communication tools (not just Facebook, etc.)

I do see, as with the bulk of 2.0 distance learning tools, a heavy reliance on the written/texted word.  That is, access to chats, blogs, etc, but no overt interface for video (live Vloging?), audio (podcasts of lectures, discussions, etc.) or an interface for submissions (although I am only looking at one page–perhaps there is a class-specific page where submissions can be uploaded).  I am also worried about the lack of page-space (which is an indirect indication of priorites) given to research-related tools.  I see lots of ways to communicate, but little in the way of researching.

Saying that, I laud the effort to bring a higher level (whether in content or in platform) to distance learning.  The more minds we apply to interacting in this endeavor, the better the overall nature of the endeavor.

We are watching you, 2tor.

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2 Responses to Company to Watch: 2tor

  1. jmjone says:

    Bill,

    Thanks for the thoughtful post. As you suspect, there is much more beyond that sample page.

    Through an extensive eportfolio, we plan to make heavy use of video content and vlogging, especially as it relates to in-class training and feedback.

    As for page space, we’ve designed the site to be as simple as possible for students to immediately interact with what we feel to be the core components of the platform. Our hope is that by creating an incredibly simple initial user experience, students will more quickly feel comfortable delving deeper into the functionality and tools which, under the surface, are quite robust.

    That being said, all of this is still conjecture as the site isn’t live. We plan to iterate extensively based upon initial student feedback, so you can expect the user interface, at the very least, to evolve significantly over the next year.

    Best,

    Jeremy Johnson
    CTO
    2Tor

  2. biljackson says:

    Thanks for the informative reply, Jeremy.

    I am interested in future evolutions of the interface. With the field dominated, now, by a WebCT-ed BlackBoard (Moodle’s progress has been slow), there is considerable excitement for more robustly engaging interfaces.

    Keep us posted.

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