Feature Friday: Learn Mode

Our portfolio company Quizlet, which is the world’s most popular studying tool, launched learn mode yesterday.

Here’s how it works:

The team at Quizlet has built a way to go from cramming to studying, delivered via technology that’s in our pockets. Well done.

Learn mode is available on Quizlet’s iOS app and it is in closed beta on Android and coming soon to the web.

#hacking education#mobile

Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    My daughter uses Quizlet every day. Great stuff.

    1. Richard

      No joke!

      1. JimHirshfield


  2. jason wright

    You’re soon going to need an “Our Portfolio Company” Menu tag to help keep track of all these developments.

    1. fredwilson

      i may need to rename the blog 🙂

      1. jason wright

        You may need to brush up on modal verbs 😉

  3. karen_e

    Walking back from school dropoff this morning, I was thinking about Quizlet before I saw this post. Hoping the new learn mode will be helpful over the summer as we get deeper into phonics. For those parents who wonder about reading instruction [“persistence of the whole word method despite the overwhelming research proving the superiority of phonics”] start here: http://www.thephonicspage.o

  4. DJL

    This is great stuff. I sure wish they would partner with K-12 content providers and roll these out into schools. Our kids’ school system is a total mess with regard to mobile and learning tech. Every teacher does their own thing and most parents try to be proactive to fill in the gaps.

    1. fredwilson

      the content partners are starting to come to them

      1. DJL

        Perfect. What I see is that “curating” the school content is also disjointed. So if they become the delivery vehicle (i.e. the intermediary) , it would be awesome.

        1. creative group

          DJL:it appears that great idea is wishful thinking when both political parties power evovles from this disjointed system to control the minds of those being taught either with having influence over teachers or having influence by spending millions to elect School Boards that influence what is going into books. Hard to help when the playing field is designed for the aforementioned.

          1. DJL

            Agreed. One of the reason that I vote for pushing education to the most local levels possible. Schools systems at every level are very political.

      2. JamesHRH

        Now that is a Fred Wilson marketing strategy principle.

  5. LE

    I think quizlet and this feature is great.But I would like there to be a major change in what information is taught and tested in school to begin with. A re-evaluation of the entire legacy concept of learning and memorizing useless facts and data.As an example look at this quizlet which which was done by ‘Wilson5thgrade’. We can assume this is a 5th grader who was given the assignment by his teacher. What a waste of time and studying (and use of quizlet).https://quizlet.com/8518373…I just can’t even begin to imagine the point of a kid trying to stuff these facts into his head and the benefit. There is so much more valuable information out there why do we still need to do assignments like this? This type of teaching and school assignment is a vestige of a past that still hasn’t changed. Take a look at some of the useless facts. All this takes up valuable learning time which is my point. And it’s not about ‘learning to learn’ either. You can do that by learning things that are of more value in real life.

    1. DJL

      I agree. However, school system’s attempts to move beyond wrote memory has also created total confusion. My first grader brings home word problems that I cannot understand. And the objectives are totally fuzzy. I’m not sure there is an easy answer to this.

    2. PhilipSugar

      I really, really agree with this comment.What they taught has drastically changed from 500 years ago.I think we can all agree the last 50 or even 20 have had more change, than all of those years, but we have not had drastic change. (we are getting there)Most certainly in the last 100 we have had more change and more profound change than ever before.It’s important to know how to solve problems and have knowledge but more importantly how to ask questions, seek answers, and come up with solutions.I just bought a pair of beehives today. In the past I would have really had to become an apprentice and learn what to do. Now I can triangulate on how to solve the problem to a question I asked which is it would be cool to have my own honey and spend time with my kids doing that.

      1. LE

        And honestly it’s almost to easy and not as much fun as it was in the past when you had to put in effort and iirc got a much better sense of satisfaction when you accomplished something. Or at least I did in the things that I am self taught and took personal initiative to do (without being told to do so). The pain, friction, trial and error does have a benefit. [1]If you want to know the root of much of the evil in education it flows from those college rankings, the SAT’s, and everyone following what the top universities think is important.It’s important to know how to solve problems and have knowledge but more importantly how to ask questions, seek answers, and come up with solutions.I found this out with a technical contractor that does some work for me. Almost 95% of the time formulating the email to ask a question that I am stumped with then provides me with clues that allow me to figure out the answer myself. So many times I am ready to hit send and then the answer comes to me. In the past so many times I was stumped after 4 hours only to go to bed wake up and immediately know how to solve a problem that I was having.[1] It’s like skiing. Why do you try to get better, challenge yourself with black diamonds? Why do black diamonds in VT feel better than the Poconos? Why is skiing out west more a challenge for people that are used to east coast ice? I mean why not just go down a green hill? Why not just sled? Why even go skiing when you can just sit in a chair and do nothing? Why fool with sails when a power boat is so much easier? Because easy is not as much fun.

        1. PhilipSugar

          That is why we ask people to email us and promise a 5 minute response. The act of writing it solves 4 out of 5 questions.

      2. Richard

        I really really disagree with this. The value of memorization at a young age isn’t what is being memorized, it’s about training the Brain to store and retrieve data. And allow the subconscious to make what it can from this data.

    3. JamesHRH

      Interestingly, I disagree.Kids need to learn how to pound information into their heads, to the point that it is instant & intuitive.It’s not learning it: it’s learning how to have it wthhout thinking.Times tables is the obvious example. My kids moved enough that they never got them pounded into them.

      1. LE

        I am not talking about things that are good to have in working memory. I am talking about things that you don’t need to know at all, like the state bird of the state that you live in (which was my example from the quizlet that I identified).https://quizlet.com/8518373…Go to the quizlet and tell me what info there is of value to 99.99% of the people and why kids need to learn these facts and be tested on them.Honestly real life is analog it’s not digital. While almost all people know that there are 50 states and many know there are 2 senators per state most people don’t know how many congressmen are in their state. And I would argue that while it’s important to know there are ‘around 50 states’ the number 50 isn’t particularly significant in any useful way (other than not sounding like an idiot to other adults who know that info). My last point is probably overboard in order to prove a point.

        1. Richard

          You are missing the big picture. These are dopey kids. The are wired to memorize.

  6. Vasudev Ram

    Hey Fred, if you had not become a VC, you might have been a great marketer 🙂

    1. creative group

      Vasudev Ram:what have you been reading since Fred started this blog? He has been marketing his portfolio companes relentlessly. The best marketing compliments the best products.Bad marketing can’t help a good product and good marketing can’t help a bad product.

      1. Vasudev Ram

        Hey, creative group (or individual or bot, as the case may be 🙂 :>what have you been reading since Fred started this blog? He has been marketing his portfolio companes relentlessly. The best marketing compliments the best products.Among other things that I’ve been reading since Fred started this blog, I’ve been reading this blog – from probably almost the time he started it – which is 10 years plus some. (I mean, like, I’ve been here from the time of that fantastic Elf Yourself New Year post of his, which was a mega-hit. I copied the shareable widget onto my site and used it at the time. Great fun and traffic too. I nearly laughed my head off).And I know well that he markets his portfolio companies (just happened to say so only now) – which is good and normal, nothing out of the ordinary, except for people who have an irrational or ignorant fear of marketing. There is both good and bad marketing, just like there is both good and bad anything else.And people who think all marketing is bad should google for “There’s a sucker born every minute” (hint: P. T. Barnum) and contemplate on it.IOW, Caveat emptor.BTW you need to use Grammarly or at least a spell checker. See your spelling of “compliment”.>Bad marketing can’t help a good product and good marketing can’t help a bad product.A true fact. ** Let me know if you ever find any false facts …

      2. fredwilson


      3. Vasudev Ram

        creative group:>Bad marketing can’t help a good product and good marketing can’t help a bad product.That is pretty obvious, almost a tautology.Further, apparently he did not always think so, at least about this part:”good marketing can’t help a bad product”although he may do so now. See links below.>what have you been reading since Fred started this blog? He has been marketing his portfolio companes relentlessly. The best marketing compliments the best products.Also, what have YOU been reading since Fred started this blog?Are you aware that he once wrote this post:http://avc.com/2011/02/markhttps://techcrunch.com/2011…I think that is what JamesHRH is referring to in this comment below:https://disqus.com/home/dis

    2. fredwilson

      The best VCs are great marketers

      1. Vasudev Ram

        Yep, I didn’t mean my earlier comment in a mutually exclusive sense (except in the sense that, if you had never been a VC, you could still have had a great career as a marketer). Had thought of clarifying the point up front, but decided to see what the reactions would be (though I did realize the statement could be read as ambiguous) …

    3. JamesHRH


      1. Vasudev Ram

        Ha, good. “Would”.

        1. Vasudev Ram

          On the other hand, he might have gone into some other role, so ‘might’ is sort of right 🙂

  7. Twain Twain

    Plato: “All learning has an emotional base.” I shared this with Hadi Partovi of Code.org in March 2015 after a Stanford PhD did some research for them on why students drop out AND NOT A SINGLE OF HIS DATA POINTS MEASURED THE EMOTIONAL STATE OF THE STUDENT that would explain WHY they didn’t continue with the lesson any more and how the system could encourage them to return and complete the course.In fact, no Machine Learning system in Silicon Valley has an emotional base. Even Facebook’s emojis are a bolt on, designed to fit us somewhere on the bell curve.On Wednesday, I learnt exactly how autistic the thinking, the code and its culture is in the Valley, @fredwilson:disqus. And it highlights how successions of male echo chambers make the systems both biased and autistic and why diversity in VC decision-making is vital.One of the leading AdTech companies presented at Galvanize and shared how they classify content and train their ML.Their AI Lead then said he was interested in how to do Natural Language Generation using AI with ad copy over a video clip.I observed that language understanding and ads are an emotional experience and the AI doesn’t yet understand human emotions coherently or the meanings of our language.This was his reply: “The internal state of someone’s mind doesn’t matter. We can cut out the middle man of sentiment. We can just measure the rate of how many times they view the page. We don’t need to know what type of dopamine is in the mouse’s brain. The only thing that matters is they click on the button. It’s Skinner, right?” (referring to BF Skinner).Seriously, that’s what he said — “The internal state of someone’s minds doesn’t matter” as if we’re just click zombies and emotions aren’t core to human biology and decision-making.He has a PhD in AI. This is the type of guy I meet constantly in AI.Are we surprised we haven’t solved Nat Lang Understanding when guys like this only care about the quantities of clicks, 1st order logic, pattern recognizing the probability we’ll click and how we behave and they don’t care at all about our internal states of mind?So no one should FEEL morally outraged by Trump or feel anything, period.The machines and their clicks don’t care and can’t read-understand our feelings about anything — Trump, the truth, democracy, diversity etc.This is how the culture, the code and the systems have been designed and built up in Silicon Valley.Engineers and PhDs in AI don’t care about people’s internal states of minds, feelings or context that drive why we think, say or do. They care purely about the clicks of us human mice.

    1. Richard

      See Charlie munger’s lecture on cognatice biases and you’ll.see why

      1. Twain Twain

        Thanks, yes, Munger made this observation on Skinner: “Later, Skinner lost most of his personal reputation by over claiming for incentive superpower to the point of thinking he could create a human utopia with it and by displaying hardly any recognition of the power of the rest of psychology. He thus behaved like one of Jacob Viner’s truffle hounds as he tried to explain everything with incentive effects.”There are lots of things we humans do that have nothing to do with getting the piece of cheese faster than all the other mice.For one thing, many of us are altruistic. We don’t give up our seats on the bus to the pregnant woman or the person older than us because of bits of cheese.We don’t persevere with our studies just to get A’s. Many of us are driven to learn by the sheer enjoyment of the subject(s) we care about.

  8. Jay Janney

    I have three children, one that is acadeically challenged. We use Quizlet for her, and it gamifies studying. When she gets a perfect score she grets a prize.Here’s an idea to pass along to the founders: teach people how to write a quiz! That sounds dumb, but humor me here. Three of her teachers use quizlets, and they are clueless on how to write an effective one. Theirs are much too abstract. Too often they want to take a paragrpah, and pull out a word, and that is the answer. That might work for recognizing names, but not for abstractions.Pass along my compliments: I find it easy to write quizlets.

  9. Vasudev Ram

    Good point, just remembered that earlier Fred post about marketing and replied about it to @creative_group:disqus .

    1. JamesHRH

      There is also a seminal AVC post entitled ‘Marketing is for Products that Suck. – a bit of a turning point for Fred I believe and one of the all time community engagement episodes on AVC.

        1. JamesHRH

          check. got it. thanks.