How it all began
As an expert private tutor helping students one-on-one for over a decade, Leo worked with many students from different schools who had different teachers and were using different textbooks, and yet he noticed many of the same questions kept coming up.
Leo thought he might be able to help more students if he recorded video explanations of these common trouble topics and uploaded them to YouTube.
In the Spring of 2008, Leo shared this idea with Josh, and the two began to discuss ways to use technology to mirror the process of a teacher or tutor working one-on-one with a confused student.
Early in their conversations, Leo and Josh reached agreement on a few key points which would come to define Virtual Nerd's instructional platform and content library:
- Learning is not a linear process, so we must support non-linear exploration.
- Students are often unable to identify the source of their confusion, so we must help them find what they need without forcing them to know what it is ahead of time.
- A solid foundation is critical for progression to more advanced topics, and when students find themselves struggling, it's often due to weakness in underlying concepts, so we must provide immediate and direct access to pre-requisite topics.
- Quality matters in every aspect of every experience, so we must not cut corners.
- When students are confused, they need to be able to focus on resolving their confusion, so we must not distract them with extraneous stimuli or with too much esthetic variation.
- May 2011
Virtual Nerd wins accolades at Software and Information Industry Association Education Technology Summit in San Francisco: Most Likely to Succeed Runner-Up & Blackboard Building Blocks Partner Award
- June 2010
Debut of subscription plans.
- April 2010
Virtual Nerd exhibits at conference of National Council of Teachers of Mathematics for the first time. Teachers love the site (and the name).
- January 2010
Public Beta of Virtual Nerd website goes live with library of Algebra 1 tutorials and basic search functionality.
Mary Louise Helbig joins Virtual Nerd as its Director of Operations and first full-time employee.
- December 2009
Patent application filed for "System and Method for Whiteboard Presentation of Interactive and Expandable Modular Educational or Training Content"
- February 2009
Leo and Josh win the Olin Cup Business Plan and Entrepreneurship Competition at Washington University in St. Louis.
- December 2008
Completion of successful pilot program the Chaminade College Preparatory School in St. Louis County, MO.
- April 2008
Leo and Josh decide to build a prototype of their shared vision.
Leo and Josh register the domain virtualnerd.net after considering and ultimately rejecting dozens of other options, such as blah, blah and blah.
- March 2008
Leo and Josh have their initial conversations about video-based instruction and decide to see "what else is out there". They don't find anything compelling.