In recent years, entrepreneurs and educators have had an epiphany: that technology can be used to enhance and improve the learning experience – inside and outside the classroom.
But the journey hasn’t been easy. Learning, by its very nature, is a personal, intimate, and nuanced activity. It’s an undertaking as old as time itself, modelled on tradition and resistant to change. It is also an investment of one’s time, one’s curiosity and, in today’s commercially-driven society, one’s money. Indeed, it is likely that the latter –the expectation that paying students will receive more than simply an ‘education’ – has had the biggest impact on the educational technology sector, helping ambitious edtech companies gain the attention of the world’s pre-eminent pedagogues.
Today, if you and your institution aren’t tying technology into your teaching techniques, then you’re doing something wrong. Here are five edtech companies who are leading the charge and changing the learning experience for the better:
A communication app for the classroom, ClassDojo has a clear mission: to help every teacher create the best possible learning environment for their students. By opening channels between teachers, students, and their parents – allowing the former to create their own classroom culture, and the latter to have a unique window into their son or daughter’s day – ClassDojo brings the best ideas for education into both school and the home, creating a community that is engaged, valued, and eager to learn.
Actively used in 2/3 of US schools, and available in over 180 countries, ClassDojo is quickly changing how classrooms are run (over half a million of them, to be precise). Backed by a number of leading investors, the app is aiming to transform education from the ground up. Indeed, the ClassDojo team don’t believe change happens top-down; to really improve things, they want to work with the people on the ground, at the heart of education. The scores of teachers who have signed up to use the edtech app suggest its British-born founders have the right idea.
Launched in 2015, Kramer enables highly-customisable live collaboration in order to create an engaging and interactive learning environment. All connected devices (laptop, tablet, mobile) are controlled by one central panel, giving teachers the ability to share files and documents in real time, turn displays into a whiteboard, stream HD videos, and even switch off the lights! Even better, Kramer allows the classroom lead to control what is shown on the main display versus what is shown on student’s own displays, meaning classes can either work together as a whole, or be divided into groups to work at their own pace – a great way of stimulating a classroom of mixed abilities.
Kaltura is a multimedia platform that enhances teaching through the medium of video. Widely used at major global universities including Yale, Stanford, and MIT, Kaltura is able to create campus-wide management and delivery systems that can store lectures, post assignments, and even prompt students to take a test.
Originally built to accommodate the complex and varied needs of media companies such as HBO and major corporations including Bank of America, Kaltura is able to bring all the latest learning trends to life: from blended learning and flipped classrooms, to distance lectures and BYOD. Kaltura also recognises that education should not be confined to a lecture hall at a specific time, and so hosts library video resources, channels for group collaboration, student generated content, and more, to stimulate learning at a time that best suits each individual.
When it comes to education, test-taking is (for many) a necessary evil. Even worse are the hours of revision required to be exam-ready. Fortunately, Synap – an edtech platform developed by James Gupta and Omair Vaiyani, medical students at the University of Leeds – aims to put an end to tedious note-taking and library cramming sessions.
Designed to help students at all levels learn more in less time, Synap uses powerful spaced repetition software to create a personalised learning plan for each user. Based on the famous Leitner System of memorisation, Synap learns what you’re studying and then presents you with Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs): a fun and challenging way of revising. The spaced repetition system remembers how you perform and prioritises which topics to send you each day, in order that your results improve organically over time.
As well as offering access to MCQs written by top educational providers, including the University of Oxford, Synap also allows users to collaborate and study together, a great tool for teachers who can create private classrooms via the platform and share quizzes with their students securely.
Sandpit by Crowdfund Campus
Mapped to the QAA guidance on Enterprise and Entrepreneurship – meaning it can be applied to any course in which students are generating ideas – Sandpit turns the classroom into a marketplace, allowing participants to test business ideas quickly and easily, and as part of their curriculum. Through simulations and a virtual currency, students test innovative ideas, practice selling, and learn how to pitch for investment, teaching them to think like entrepreneurs, customers, and investors in a safe environment.
Already an integral teaching tool at leading institutions including the University of Birmingham, Henley Business School (at the University of Reading), and University of the Arts London, Sandpit is a powerful way of bringing all components of the business-planning process together, integrating creative problem solving and e-learning alongside existing modules. This practice-led learning not only adds variety to assessment methods (and, typically, boosts module evaluation scores as a result), but also teaches skills relevant to contemporary society, helping students leapfrog the gulf between the ivory towers of education and the real world of business.
For personal advice on how to introduce edtech to your classroom, please call +44 (0)7545 898120 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be delighted to show you around the Sandpit and demonstrate why this is the future of education.