Overachieving college students may soon be able to generate revenue from their notebooks when Israeli startup Sleeve launches later this year.
Sleeve co-founder and CEO Ido Volff visited the University of Hartford last week as part of a Metro Hartford Alliance initiative to connect Israeli and Connecticut companies. Volff believes that learning needs to change now that laptops and iPads are quickly replacing static textbooks and binders in the classroom.
“We’re challenging the way we learn today,” Volff said, “Social education is going to have a major impact on the way we learn and educate our kids. That’s our goal.”
Volff hopes his product will be for education what LinkedIn has become for professional networking. The concept behind Sleeve is not all that different from Facebook, but it wraps a standard social networking model around a note taking tool with an integrated marketplace that’s open to both students and professional content creators.
Here’s how it works: our high achieving college student can use Sleeve’s integrated note-taking tool in class to jot down lecture notes. That student can also “friend” other students in the class in a manner similar to Facebook. If our high achiever is feeling altruistic, he or she can share those notes – in real time – to classmates also using Sleeve.
But our student has another option: the marketplace. Sleeve will give the student the option to sell access to their notebook and other content through an online storefront. Professional ebooks and articles from content providers will also be available.
“We’ve got some really interesting 3rd party companies interested in collaborating,” Volff said.
The Sleeve marketplace will take a percentage of each sale similar to how Apple and Amazon sell content in their online stores.
Watch Volff’s demo of Sleeve:
Sleeve is starting a pilot program this March with the University of Tel Aviv in Israel, but the company is also hoping to simultaneously launch pilots in the United States as well, rolling out on individual campuses similar to how Facebook began their service. Volff says the United States is an important market not only due to a larger student population but also because U.S. students are more likely to use technology in the classroom.
Volff, who comes from a family of educators, admits that to some the concept he is building might be a threat to traditional methods. He says that the service will launch regardless of whether institutions adopt the concept, but he hopes that a few schools in the U.S. and Israel will partner with him.
“We’re not marketing to universities at all, but we’d like to get some cooperation from universities,” he said.
Sleeve can integrate with existing university software systems to allow professors to offer content to students free of charge through the same interface students would use to share data with each other.
Volff rejects the notion that content sold through his system will add to plagiarism headaches at institutions. If anything, he suggests that students may be more inclined to protect their own intellectual property if it is being offered for sale. Students who choose to share content for free also can restrict access to those who misuse it. The system employs a “gamification” layer that rewards students who contribute useful content to the community. Students with higher scores will have more exposure in the system to others looking for content.
And for those freeloaders who often buddy up with the high performing students for a peek at their notebook?
“If you’re a freeloader, you’re going to pay a lot more,” Volff laughed, “if you create content you can actually earn.”