In classrooms around the world,
is proving to be a very popular and very smart girl.
The online education site went live last March and experienced an overwhelming response, with people logging on from nearly 70 countries in just the first two days.
Now, just seven months later, Sophia has grown from start-up to robust enterprise, expanding from six to 13 full-time employees, plus approximately 25 contractors and consultants. Founder and CEO Don Smithmier, whom we profiled
in February, anticipates more hiring in the coming year, as Sophia ramps up even more.
"We're now executing a plan that we'd put forth at the beginning, the goal of bringing Sophia to the world," he says. "We're getting traction, and seeing growth as a result."
Sophia is a free social learning community, focused solely on education. The service brings together teachers and students from around the world. Utilizing "learning packets" that combine text, video, and graphics, teachers can create educational units that can be viewed by everyone, or just a select group of students.
Smithmier notes that the approach falls into a growing new category of academics called "social education," in which access to learning is increased. He says, "We're talking about flipping the student-to-teacher ratio. So, instead of 30 students for every teacher, what you'll have are 30 teachers for every student."
The strategy can be particularly effective, he adds, because people tend to "click" with some teachers but not others. Exposing students to so many teachers and different teaching styles keeps those relationships clicking.
As Sophia keeps expanding, in both employees and reach, Smithmier anticipates that the company will be doing more work on its learning programs and refining its offerings. "We want to make Sophia nationally known, and eventually globally known," he says, then laughs. "I guess we just want to be world famous."
Source: Don Smithmier, Sophia
Writer: Elizabeth Millard