Grovo is a free online Educational site that teaches people how to use different Internet sites and services through video tutorials.
Grovo teaches basic navigation and functionality of sites that help you promote your business (Facebook Pages, Yelp), manage your business (Basecamp, Paypal), or just get by in life (Skype, Flickr, OpenTable).
A recent expansion in late 2011 added a lot more business-focused content in particular. If you’re not on the bleeding edge of technology, it’s hard enough to keep track of the sites that come out, much less learn how to use them all.
For the most part, Grovo is a how-to guide, not a “why” analysis. It’s more about instruction than objective analysis, strategy, or best practices. It’s about learning the basics. For more advanced online, video-based learning, Editors’ Choice Lynda.com (from $25 per month, 4 stars) does a fantastic job of teaching power users of various sites and software how to stay on top of the latest versions of their favorite tools. For learning academic subjects like statistics and art history (as opposed to how to use software), there’s Khan Academy (free, 4 stars), another Editors’ Choice for e-learning that’s a joy to watch because of the excellent content and teachers. Conversely, Grovo doesn’t have instructors so much as voice actors who read a scripts and it shows.
What Can You Learn on Grovo?
To use Grovo, you have to create a username and password and establish a profile. Your user account includes a dashboard, which helps you keep track of the learning videos you watch. Optionally, you can fill out a short survey so Grovo can suggest more lessons on things you’re interested in learning.
To give you an idea of what you can learn on Grovo, it segments its lessons into 14 categories: social media, online marketing, productivity, local info, shopping, reference, communication, video, photos, browsing, music, selling, travel, and other.
All the lessons come in the form of screencast videos, so you see what’s happening on the screen while an instructor provides a voiceover explanation of the tool, site, or service and how to use it. The segmentation of content is appropriate. No videos are more than a few minutes long.
The quality of the audio—how clear they sounds, the speed of speech—is excellent. And the videos look great, too. They’re well polished, although Khan Academy is a perfect example of why polish doesn’t always matter. Khan’s strength is its content and the teachers who bring life to it, not the low-tech Yahoo Doodle software that you the learner actually watch on screen. Grovo’s polish at times feels and sounds like advertising. It’s clean and crisp with music laid over it, but because it lacks an enthusiastic and genuine teacher behind the material, it’s stilted.
On each video page, a Study Center appears at the bottom, which includes the lesson quiz, glossary of terms, and PDF lesson summary that you can download or print if you want to review the material offline. Another nice feature for visual learners or the hard-of-hearing is closed captioning and a separate transcript file for each video.
The design and layout of the individual video page is excellent for an online learning system, the page never scrolling too long and the parts clearly labeled.
Quizzes, Tracks and Other Features
As you watch videos in a series—for example, to learn what Foursquare Merchant means and how to sign up for the service—a component of your dashboard records your progress. Watch three videos of a six-segment series, and the ticker will show you’re 50 percent done.
Quizzes are included that test the knowledge you just learned. If you complete a series of videos and pass the quiz, Grovo tells you you’re “certified” in that subject.
One of the new features that Grovo added in late 2011 is the ability to select a “track” of content to watch. Tracks are themes that have pointed outcomes. “Move Your Business to the Cloud” is one. “Find a Job Online” and “Grow Your Business with Social Media” are two other examples. Select a track, answer a few questions, and Grovo will create a customized set of video tutorials to help you accomplish your goal.
Two other new features, groups and assignments, encourage users to help teach others. If you’re in a group with someone, let’s say a colleague who has asked for your help in learning to use Twitter, you can assign that person the task of watching the relevant Twitter videos and completing the quiz.
Grovo for Beginners
For individuals and small business owners who are utterly in the weeds with social media—the kinds of people who don’t know to search for instruction via a search engine or video site—Grovo could be useful because it provides absolutely rudimentary how-tos for tools they may need and may find intimidating to simply try freehand.
The value of Grovo for those of us who already have some tech savvy is we can use Grovo as a resource when friends, family, and colleagues need help, assigning them content that we know will cover the basics thoroughly and in an easy-to-use interface.