Looking at examples of social enterprises and how social entrepreneurs come up with business ideas I discovered Academic Earth, an organization founded with the goal of giving everyone on earth access to a world-class education.

The Founder, Richard Ludlow, came up with the idea while studying international development at Yale University.  Throughout college, Richard had been particularly inspired by social entrepreneurs such as Wendy Kopp (Teach for America), Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), and Charles Best (DonorsChoose.org) whose innovative efforts have improved educational opportunities for people on a very large scale.

Having used “OpenCourseWare” materials to supplement his own education, Richard knew not only how valuable this type of content is, but how much could be done to make it more accessible for people around the globe.  He founded Academic Earth with the idea that centralizing online education resources, applying the latest tools in web development, and building a platform for rich community contributions could lead to a perpetually improving educational ecosystem that provided anyone with an internet connection access to teachings directly from some of the world’s greatest scholars.

The idea and mission of Academic Earth

As more and more high quality educational content becomes available online for free, Richard asked himself, what are the real barriers to achieving a world class education?  and started working to  identify these barriers and find innovative ways to use technology to increase the ease of learning.

Academic Earth  mission is to build a user-friendly educational ecosystem that will give internet users around the world the ability to easily find, interact with, and learn from full video courses and lectures from the world’s leading scholars.  The final goal is to bring the best content together in one place and create an environment in which that content is remarkably easy to use and where user contributions make existing content increasingly valuable. Academic Earth also has as objective to be economically sustainable through publicity and marketing of its affiliates and members.