Free websites use social networking tools to share content

Lampert added: “Our focus is simplicity. We really have taken great measures to make sure this is the easiest way for users to get on, make their group, and get going.” He said 80 percent of Wiggio’s users are in the K-12 and higher-education sectors.

Wiggio recently has implemented two additions that have received a great deal of attention. One is a to-do list feature, which allows users to assign tasks with due dates to group members, making for mini-projects within a larger project easier. The other feature lets all members share their computer screens over the network.

“The most powerful part of this is the screen sharing, so I can show everyone in my group my screen and then do demos, walk-throughs, PowerPoint presentations, and the like,” Lampert said.

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Wiggio also recently created an iPhone application, which Lampert said was met with enthusiasm.

“A lot of our users are taking advantage of being able to check their groups’ content, but also then contribute content back to the group right through their iPhone,” he said.

Other sites also realize that users want an online space to communicate, share ideas, and work with peers. offers free academic content to all. Using Web 2.0 tools, users can create “learning packets,” or bite-sized tutorials tagged to specific academic subjects or topics, which then are rated for quality and examined for academic soundness by both users and community experts.

“The mantra is we want to flip the student-teacher ratio on its head. We want 30 teachers for every student instead of the other way around,” said Don Smithmier, CEO of Sophia. “When I say that, I don’t mean teachers in the professional sense, I mean teachers in the practical sense. If I can surround myself, as a student, with 30 people who know how to teach the thing that I’m trying to learn, then I have much better odds at finding someone who connects with my learning style and can present it in a way that makes sense to me.”

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