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I think it’s safe to say that many online workers would also describe themselves as lifelong learners. I know that personally, I’m always looking for new ways to learn, which is why I was so intrigued when I came across WiZiQ. The web service bills itself as an “Online Educational Platform for Teachers and Learners” and is available free of charge. What it provides is a virtual classroom, the purpose of which is left completely up to users.
Definitely an attractive proposition, and one which I can think of many uses for in terms of web working applications. But in practice, what are WiZiQ’s limitations? Could I, for instance, monetize the service, and offer lessons created with WiZiQ as part of a subscription or pay-per-lesson model?
First of all, it’s clear that WiZiQ is designed with live interaction in mind. It features an extensive scheduling system, and allows you to comb your network of contacts to invite participants to join your sessions. Of course, to participate, potential students/instructors must first sign up for a WiZiQ account. Once set up, users can upload all kinds of documents, including PowerPoint presentations, to supplement their teaching.
Sessions feature a whiteboard which can be used by all participants. The whiteboard is for live writing and drawing, and live audio and/or video feeds can be used for communication between teachers and participants. Classroom control can be shifted to anyone participating, at the discretion of the instructor/moderator.
When I signed up, I was asked about my purposes in using the service, and about what subjects I was interested in teaching (since I indicated that I wanted to use it for teaching). The categories available led me to believe that at least one of the purposes of WiZiQ was to supplement actual, accredited education, meaning that profs or high school teachers could opt to use a free WiZiQ classroom to enhance or replace a physical one.
Since that seems to be the case, it seems that you can use the service as a platform for subscription or paid lessons, but there’s no way to automate this process using WiZiQ, meaning that you’ll have to set up those details on your own elsewhere between you and your clients.
WiZiQ is useful even if you’re not looking to sell your services. There’s a wide variety of free, public lessons available, and if you’re goal is to become a subject matter expert in your particular field, there are worse ways to go about it. My only concern is that you don’t reach a huge audience through WiZiQ, since the main benefit is live interaction, which obviously how many people you can reach. Still, you can archive and make available for review all of your recorded lessons.
The site is also a handy networking and scouting tool. Through it, you can meet other professionals working in the same field as yourself. That’s good for professional development, or, if you happen to be a headhunter or employer, you can use WiZiQ to find potential employees or contractors.
Some people might be overwhelmed by WiZiQ, since, despite the relatively simple tools it uses, it asks for a lot of information and actually more closely resembles a full-fledged social network than a collaborative web app. Still, it could be a nice, free addition to your web working arsenal.