The past few years have seen steady growth in hi-tech solutions in education. The widespread use of mobile devices among students has created a thriving market for education apps and platforms that can be an incredible incentive for students. This trend has, in return, created a green turf for many edtech startups that create innovative products that are bound to change the way teachers teach and students learn forever. This is their story.
Science through games
The mission of the Canadian edtech company Spongelab is to help younger students learn science through a series of games. Founded in 2007, it started as a project for middle graders and high schoolers but now is aimed primarily at primary school children. Currently available in 161 countries, it includes games like Build-a-Body, where the student puts on a pair of transplant surgeon gloves, and Transcription Hero, based on its vastly popular Guitar counterpart, where the student assumes the role of the enzyme responsible for replicating DNA.
Digital Open University
FutureLearn was conceived as a hub for courses from universities and educational institutions all over the world. The courses offered by this platform range from Programming at the University of Reading to screenwriting classes provided by the National Film and Television School. Founded in 2012 by the Open University, it was the first edtech project to come from the UK. By February 2015, a million users had signed for courses, rising to over two million by October the same year.
It learns about students
Based on an adaptive learning platform, Knewton can tailor lessons to students’ strengths and weaknesses. Imagine having a comprehensive personal tutor on 24/7 standby. The platform uses data to learn students’ affinities and habits, for example, how long they stay focused on lessons from different subjects or whether they are more likely to remember facts from a video or a text. Using these data points, Knewton can create more effective lessons. After being introduced to a high-poverty public school in Baltimore, students made a 25 percent increase in reading scores over the previous year.
Introduced in educational systems
Another successful platform from the UK, Quipper, helps teachers organize their work and connect directly with students in a network-like environment. It allows them to create online lessons, assign tasks and receive students’ coursework online. The technology behind this edtech service also provides metrics of the students’ results, with additional online tools enabling students to study and revise. Developed as a generator of mobile quizzes, Quipper is experiencing a pivotal role in the educational systems of East Asian countries like the Philippines and Indonesia.
Empowering girl coders
According to the Girls Who Code website, the number of women who graduate with degrees in computer science is barely 18 percent, while only 0.4 percent of high school girls show interest in majoring in the field. This non-profit organization has taken on to close the gender gap through teaching, mentoring, and engagement. It brings computer science to high school girls through instruction in code fundamentals, web development, and design. Girls Who Code also offers scholarships, summer immersion programs, and after-school clubs.
Unobstructed knowledge flow
The best online resource for Australia University and Year 11-12 students, Thinkswap is a student community for sharing comprehensive study notes and guides. It collects study notes, questions, and problem sets from previous students in all Australian universities and high schools and stores them in a simple exchange system. This way it allows new students to benefit from past students’ expertise while contributing to future students’ achievements.
Bibliographies at fingertips
One of the 2015 winners of the EdTech Europe competition, the online referencing tool RefMe was a web-based and mobile platform. It generates references for students using a barcode scanner for phones with a web reference generator. At one time, the number of its users grew so rapidly that it overtook the initial growth of Pinterest and Twitter. With more than 800,000 users, RefMe was been selected to be sent on a trade mission to the US by the London Mayor’s Office and UK Trade & Investment. It has since been bought by Chegg and incorporated into their Cite This For Me solution.
Power and speed for $1
Although originally aimed at educational institutions, Neverware has also seen a lot of home and work use. It allows its users to experience the capabilities of a new computer on their old hardware. Neverware software converts an old Mac or PC to a Google Chromium-like OS while using cloud technology to make a slow computer run quickly and efficiently. For an annual option of $1 per student, it allows schools and other institutions to upgrade their hardware without budget-breaking expenses.
Technology is not only revolutionizing education; it is also opening up new employment possibilities. Many edtech startups are hiring ambitious and talented graduates who can help them remain on the cutting edge of their business.