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This article was published on December 29, 2011

MentorMob wants to teach the world using community generated ‘playlists’

MentorMob wants to teach the world using community generated ‘playlists’
Drew Olanoff
Story by

Drew Olanoff

Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for onlin Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for online charitable movements. He founded #BlameDrewsCancer. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or email [email protected]

Everyone learns things differently, but it has become common practice to simply Google something you are curious about. While the search giant does a pretty good job bubbling up individual articles of information, it doesn’t give us the whole story about the topic we’re interested in.

Sure, we can ask a friend about something, but we’re not going to get a full story in return. We’ll probably just get sent a link to an article, or be told to “Google it”.

MentorMob wants to turn passionate thought leaders into teachers with its product. The app lets you curate a collection of information and place it in a narrative playlist that gives context to a topic, as well as an arc for learning.

Here’s how MentorMob describes the problem it’s solving:

Information is more accessible today than ever before, but even with the world at our fingertips and 24/7 access to experts everywhere, we find ourselves in a bind; We know there is great, free content out there that we could use to learn just about anything, but we also know that for every great article or video on the Internet there are 100,000 terrible ones to beat it to the top of the search engine results. Seeded from this frustration and fueled with the mission to change the way people access and learn from Internet content, MentorMob is bringing sense to all of this disorganization of valuable information.

It’s a cool idea, and one that I immediately found to be a helpful one.

What’s this whole Occupy thing about?

When you Google something, you probably check a few of the results. There’s of course no guarantee that you’ll find your answers in any of these results, so you’re clicking in the dark. Of course, Google has added the ability to +1 search results so that you can see which links were found to be useful by your friends, but it doesn’t give you any context as to why they +1’d it.

MentorMob has taken a concept that we can all understand, the playlist, and turn it into a learning tool. For example, if I were to Google “Occupy Wall Street”, I’d find a mix of blog posts, mainstream news articles, videos, and Wikipedia entries. I’m basically on my own to learn what I want to learn. But by using MentorMob, I can replicate the path I took to figure the whole thing out by placing each of the helpful search results into a playlist that others can view.

This concept definitely relies on an active and engaged community, but the site appears to have useful content in a lot of major categories. You can browse playlists by category or search by tag. For example, one MentorMob user created a playlist on how to get started with playing guitar. That’s something that people would Google, but it would take them quite a while to piece all of the important information over multiple articles together.

Once you’ve clicked into a playlist, the “steps” in the playlist are shown on the left, while the content is displayed on the right. The creator of the playlist can add notes and information to provide even more content, but the fact that the curated articles are placed in a specific order provide more than enough push to get you going.

In the same way that Delicious and other bookmarking sites lets you share things you pick up along the way, MentorMob does a really good job providing the context that actually teaches people what you learned in the process, rather than just throwing a link at them.

Again, pulling off a successful community of people willing to spend time to teach others about topics is extremely difficult, but I think that the “playlist” concept makes it easy enough to get started, and doesn’t require more work than it should.

Here’s a video demo of the site and playlist concept:


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