TestToob

Hoping to catch a ride on the social media train, Test Toob is a free web-based service that enables science (users performing science experiments) videos to be uploaded, rated, categorized and viewed. Test Toob, A Community for Everyday Scientists was founded by Lopa Mehrotra in hopes of making science education more interesting to children. It was incorporated in October. The company suggests that it is the first social networking community focused on science and learning.

TestToob received a $25 000 award from the Kentucky Enterprise Fund. In the future they plan to add more social-network features such as discussion forums, information sharing, and photo posting.

TestToob has a goal of attracting 10 000 users by the end of the first year and penetrating the global market and reaching +1 000 000 users by 2010.

Face #1 – Market Analysis
TestToob is targeted at a youth market; school-age children who are performing science experiments or are looking for videos showing others doing science experiments.
While geared to youth, TestToob is also attracting adults in the way of parents and teachers. The information found on the site infers that parental consent is mandatory for those under 13 years of age. Since it has strong educational value, teachers will also be tempted to sign up for an account.

Face #2 – Types of Offering
TestToob is primarily a video sharing site with social network applications coming in the future. The type of offering is predominantly Service but there is addition of valuable content for users.

Face #3 – Who is the Buyer
Targeted at a youth market, TestToob is a free service provided to students, their parents and teachers. Sign-up is free for students, parents and teachers (individuals sign-up, at this point there is no registration at the class, school or division level) and there is no suggestion of premium service for cost or any type of fee for use. TestToob has investors and it has received monetary award to aid in the start-up, but one would assume that a source of revenue is planned. There is no evidence of advertisement; speculation only suggests that it is the user database that provides income.

Face #4 – Global Markets
On first glance, one would assume that TestToob would only be used in wired, Anglophone countries. But one of the videos that I happened to view was of Japanese origin with Japanese subtitles. Many science demonstrations are universal and it is the video that is important, not the audio.
I can see that TestToob could reach a global audience of any quality internet-connected location.

Face #5 – Development of the market
At this point, TestToob is in beta. Even on a quick tour of the site one will find glitches and improvements that could be made.
As it develops, TestToob will need to model itself after more successful competitors like TeacherTube and the giant, YouTube. Supplied code for embedding, a better search structure, higher quality video played in a larger format, ability to comment on videos and a more user-friendly interface need to be developed.
Since TestToob manages user-generated content, it can be used to support a variety of markets. Perhaps in its evolution, TestToob will offer private accounts that are secure and geared toward consumer chosen parameters or group accounts tailored to user preferences.

Face #6 – Learning Technology Competing with Other Forms of Learning
TestToob can be used by interested students outside of any formal learning environment. It can be used as assigned homework, supplements to face-to-face learning or as a method of sharing in an e-learning environment.
Teachers may insist that students post videos on TestToob instead of the immensely popular YouTube as there would be a greater emphasis on proper safety measures required before the video would be accepted on the site. The social networking environment designed for use by middle and high school students may be more attractive to student use than educational competitor, TeacherTube.

My concern for TestTube is that with the advancements in Learning and Content Management Systems, students will soon have the ability to post video into the LMS environment with ease. When this happens, there will be no competitive edge left in which TestToob can define its market.

5 comments


1 davidp { 09.19.08 at 8:53 am }

This is really nice service and a potential opportunity for a much bigger service across disciplines – a CourseTube in effect. This one has lots of headroom.

Thanks for bringing this idea and your cube analysis of it to the class. With the real need to enable science in e-environments, it’s great to see a nice system like this one getting traction.

Re. your Face 6 comments… I actually have my doubts that students in the near term will be able to post video to an LMS-enabled systems with the capabilities you describe, Susan.

If some of the bigger LMS systems build this in, it may be in the same state as their portfolio and repository environments – i.e. closed systems that may be easy to get things into, but nearly impossible to move elsewhere. The LMS vendors seem not to want to enable “open,” despite their rhetoric.

Think of the possibilities of such a system being open source, or even just “open.”

d.


2 David Wees { 09.19.08 at 11:16 am }

This seems like an interesting idea, but why have they written their entire website in Flex? I can’t see the advantage to that over regular HTML + JavaScript.

The reason why this is an issue is because search engines don’t index Flash (at least not yet). Since traffic to your site is based on the number of hits you get, this is a serious issue. As evidence of this, if you Google testtoob you get the main site and no related pages. By contrast, a search for Youtube leads to nearly 57 million Youtube.com pages.

So this program is going to have to rely on word of mouth, which is notoriously unreliable.


3 Susan Wilson { 09.19.08 at 11:17 am }

Thanks for your comments, Dave.

I realize now that my comment on Face #6 was way off the mark. Even if students could post videos into a Moodle or Blackboard environment, they would lose out on one of the critical affordances of TestToob; the sharing with students all across the globe.


4 Marc Kampschuur { 09.19.08 at 3:18 pm }

David:

Thank you for pointing out the searching tech. I tried what you said and preferred the search results for testtoob – clear and direct to the company and the remainder of the hits third party comments on the side rather than pages and pages of content related results for which I would visit the site. Word of mouth, though difficult to control, does tend to be considered credible (incidentally, I found out about Google through word of mouth in 1999). However, I find their home page does little to draw you in or inform of the offering (suppose thats what the about us is before but not really motivated to go there).

Susan:

I found this in the privacy policy “TestToob may use information collected from surveys and contests for the entertainment of users, and to determine, notify and contact winners of various contests. In addition, users’ demographic and/or personally identifiable information and responses to survey and contest questions may be used by TestToob and/or shared with third parties in order to provide specifically tailored special offers or advertisements. ” which bears credence to your assertion that they raise money through selling info.

Perhaps the two-headed David or classmate can provide insight or a resource in relation to customers reactions to funding methods.

I would expect that advertising is disliked as takes up screen real estate and is time consuming to filter, subscription costs are a hurdle but this relates more to the buyer face and whether there is a substitute/competition, and that most people expect to have little privacy on the net so data minding is fairly acceptable / innocuous way of raising revenue (the targeted ads on facebook really are impressive).

Am also curious as to what degree installed users can form an competitive edge. Agree that a interface/storage system can be difficult to sustain as competitive advantage as easily reverse engineered or copied/made one better. So what does Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle need to do? Will it become a two player market based on cost and support more than platform? Just thinking back to Windows, MacOS, OS Warp, Unix, Linux, Next, Sun… Windows still dominant, Unix and Next integrated into Mac, Linux if you want cheap, OS Warp gone… Maybe am heading out of bounds.

Thanks for the thought provoking post.


5 Laura Macleod { 09.27.08 at 11:08 am }

All –

I’m always curious about social networking sites like this which rely on community input. While I’m happy to try a knitting pattern from something (should it exist!) like wikiKnit, I’d be more reluctant to have my hip replaced by a doctor trained via wikiDoc. I’m quite sure I don’t know enough about science education, as all my experience is humanities and social sciences, but how do these sites deal with safety concerns and basic standards?

Laura

You must log in to post a comment.