Luis von AhnOn this week’s PandoWeekly, I interviewed Luis von Ahn, the founder and CEO of language-learning startup Duolingo. Duolingo is a free app on the Web, Android, iPhone, and now the iPad, that takes advantage of Big Data to bring customized lessons to users. Duolingo also uses the same crowdsourcing system of von Ahn’s previous company, reCAPTCHA (which he sold to Google in 2009), to provide media companies with instant translation for their news stories.

Von Ahn, an immigrant from Guatemala who came to the US to study math, is also a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon. For the show, I asked him about his thoughts on the future of online education, how Big Data informs the design of Duolingo’s lessons right down to the individual, and how free education apps can change life in developing countries. Quote of the show: “I actually think that many things should not be taught in these large lectures, where teachers talk while many students sleep.”

As ever, the show is only 30 minutes long, so you can listen to it over your first drink for the weekend.

Next week, our guest will be Catherine Bracy of Code for America. Bracy set up President Obama’s technology office in San Francisco for his re-election campaign, and she recently gave a speech at the Personal Democracy Forum about inequality in Silicon Valley. She also featured prominently in my recent story on the rich-poor gap in the Bay Area. I’m going to be asking her about what the tech industry can do to right its gender and race imbalance, and how hard it was to get a bunch of programmers to give up their time for Obama.

You can listen to this week’s PandoWeekly at BlogTalkRadio, or just play or download it from the player below.

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