Skip to content
March 2, 2015 / carlispina

Learn About a New Topic (or Create a Course) With Highbrow

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 10.14.04 PMLast semester as part of one of my courses at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, I tried out a number of online learning tools from MOOCs to This gave me a chance to see the wide range of approaches that are available for large-scale online teaching, making even more interested in Highbrow when I saw people discussing it on Twitter.

Highbrow takes a different approach to offering an online class. Instead of trying to emulate a traditional classroom course, Highbrow tries to seamlessly integrate with users’ lives. To do this, course content is distilled down to a mere 5 minutes a day for 10 days. While this is unlikely to make users experts in a particular topic, it does allow people learn about a topic of interest without expecting them to disrupt their daily life. To further simplify this process, all of the information is delivered via a mobile-ready email that comes at the same time each day. Course content can include articles, podcasts, videos or other multimedia, but whatever the format it is meant to be a bite-sized piece of information that will help the participant to build their knowledge on a particular topic. Currently, Highbrow offers 47 courses and participants can take as many as they wish, though each person can only be enrolled in a single class at any given time. Topics range from philosophy to street art and often include links out of the email to further information for those users who are inspired to move beyond the 5 minutes a day that Highbrow demands.

For those who are particularly inspired by this format, Highbrow also offers tools that allow users to create their own courses by filling out a simple form. Each course that users create is reviewed by the Highbrow staff for publication on the site. Once it is launched, the creator has access to analytics about the course and can see how participants are interacting with the content. Though the content itself must fit within the provided form, there is still significant flexibility to select the content for each email and even the length of the course, which can vary from 7 to 14 days. The only hard and fast requirement is that each email’s content should be “easy to digest in 5 minutes.” Highbrow is an interesting and novel approach to teaching discrete topics online. While it will only be effective for certain types of information and specific topics, it is an intriguing variation on existing massive online education tools.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: