BlueDash

Learn Online, Together.

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Online learning allows us to learn anything, anywhere and any time that we want. However, it also isolates us and dehumanises the experience. BlueDash exists to make online learning more human and exciting.

1 Month. 22 Signups. 3 Lessons.

It's been one month since the launch of Learner Squads for freeCodeCamp, and 22 people have signed up.

I've spoken with every single one of those people and as a result, I believe I've disproven a few of my initial hypotheses about what matters in a cohort, namely:

  1. members having similar technical backgrounds
  2. members being at the same level in terms of learning progress
  3. members committing similar number of hours per week

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What makes me think those assumptions are wrong?

  1. Diversity in technical backgrounds means diversity in strengths and weaknesses. Members can benefit the most from a diverse group, where they're more likely to find help from someone who knows a thing or two better than them.
  2. Differences in progress level provides opportunities for people to mentor other learners, or get mentored by peers. That's an awesome way to learn. Everyone wins.
  3. People progress at different speeds. They may be in different timezones, and they probably will have different daily routines and habits that dictate when and where they learn. As a result, it's not about how much time they spend on learning. Instead, what is important is the amount of overlap time they have with their peers, even across timezones.

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So, rather than matching people based on their technical background, learning progress and time commitment, it may make more sense to create technically diverse groups, matched up according to their typical learning routines and schedule.

It will be an interesting challenge. Let's see where it takes us.

Learner Squads - Featured on PH at #5

Yet another PH success that I'm excited to share. Learner Squads for freeCodeCamp was featured on ProductHunt as #5 Product of the Day.

It feels like a massive achievement given that BlueDash is still in its very early days, and the concept is still not fully clear.

Always Be Learning – Featured on PH

Yesterday, I built and launched a simple Chrome extension, Always Be Learning, that shows inspirational quotes about lifelong learning in the New Tab screen..

Helping people stay motivated to learn throughout their life is part of the BlueDash mission, and I hope that this will help people find that extra kick of motivation they need to always be learning.

The exciting part is that today, it's been featured on ProductHunt!

Launched: Learner Squads

A triple excitement on this day... 🤩

  1. BlueDash has just been accepted into Y Combinator's Startup School Advisor Track.
  2. I've launched the next phase of BlueDash today: Learner Squads.
  3. I had my very first customer within an hour of shouting it out to the world!

Learner Squads are about making online learning fun, collaborative and team-based. I'll be connecting people learning web development on freeCodeCamp, and assigning them into groups of 4 to 6 based on their technical background, goals, availability, etc.

For this first iteration, I'll be donating 100% of the profits to freeCodeCamp. 🔥This is both to recognise freeCodeCamp's contribution to the developer community, and also my way of marketing the product without offering it for free.

Accepted into YC Startup School

BlueDash was accepted into Y Combinator's Startup School Advisor track.

As part of the Advisor track, BlueDash will be a member of a group of about 25 companies with an expert advisor.

Viral Post on Reddit

I posted my Learning Path to Web Development on Reddit, under r/learnprogramming, which then went absolutely crazy. The post received ~20k views with nearly 500 upvotes, and I had over 400 signups within 48 hours.

While that was exciting, it was also pretty stressful. I was overwhelmed, trying to keep up with the comments from Redditors. Things got worse when I managed to hit the limits of my Zapier account, which was responsible for handling a few automations that I had set up, most important of which was sending Slack invitations to the subscribers. I upgraded Zapier, only to then have Slack's systems refusing to send any more invitations, due to unusual activity.

I eventually set up a MailChimp campaign to send out the joining URL for my Slack community to everyone who didn't get the invite.

The crazed slowly died down after a few days, as the post moved down the list on Reddit.

I should probably use Reddit again!

Launched Learning Path to Web Development

Launched my free learning path to web development, designed for absolute beginners, with a Slack community to bring the learners together and encourage interactions.

I marketed it on LinkedIn, on various Slack communities, and a popular Facebook group for people learning to code. I had some signups, but nothing spectacular.

I also made a less-than-stellar launch on ProductHunt two days later.

I realised that I must learn to market my damn creation!

Verified Problems

I, and a designer that I had been working with, carried out ~40 interviews with online learners, and following countless hours of online research, I summarised the 3 top problems in online learning that I wanted to try and solve:

  1. Accountability: The self-paced nature of most online courses means that learners often lose their momentum, with nothing and no one to hold them accountable.
  2. Interaction: Learners learn best when they apply their learnings, whether in practice, or by explaining it to other people. Interacting with others and discussing what they learn is one way to maximise their learning. However, learner interactions in an online environment is often infeasible and/or ineffective due to differences in backgrounds, commitment levels, interests and goals.
  3. Learning Path: Everyone, especially beginners, need guidance on what to learn and how to do it in order to reach a specific goal. However, goals are individual, and the learners' prior knowledge, or lack thereof, affects what they must learn in order to reach that goal. In addition, leaners have different preferences for the types of learning material they'd like to consume. Some prefer textual information, while others prefer video-based lessons, or even audio.

Online learning allows us to learn anything, anywhere and any time that we want. However, it also isolates us and dehumanises the experience. BlueDash exists to make online learning more human and exciting.