Education is way too complex nowadays, with plenty of new services appearing – apps, MOOCs, virtual environments and devices – making it hard for both teachers and students to find the ones answering their needs. Often we get excited about a new technology, which doesn’t blend into our learning environment and becomes an add-on instead of being part of the learning process. There is a need for more technology in education, but only for smart technology.
Questions to answer while designing new educational services are plenty. Do our technologies and tools support our goals? Are they relevant to us? Do they simplify the learning process or add unnecessary complexity? Do they promote creativity and discovery or limit it instead? Do they support social interaction or slow down the development of our social skills?
Last week I spent a day with a bunch of passionate and inspiring entrepreneurs attending Open Education Challenge, exchanging ideas, working on go-to-market strategies and trying to answer the questions above, along with many others. Open Education Challenge is a European Incubator for innovation in education, demonstrating that education is no longer limited to curricula – it’s about innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. From 600+ applicants, the Jury selected the 8 most promising startups to join the program and go through an intense 12-weeks-training in Helsinki, Paris, Barcelona and London.
The program is designed to support the teams in developing their services and turning them into sustainable businesses creating high educational value. The startups participating in the program are working on new contents, practices and tools to help students and teachers in their daily lives. They are enabling their users learn and teach what, where and when they want, making learning engaging and fun. The entrepreneurs are there to promote sustainable lifestyles and find new solutions to problems we face in education, which is a great challenge.
Here are the 8 startups I was lucky to meet:
Cubes Coding allows kids to learn the basics of programming starting from the age of 3 – kids can program a robot by simply connecting cubes.
GroupMOOC is an online service that helps people manage their personal MOOCs schedules in a simple interface and engage with their peer learners.
KLAP is “google analytics for education”, it helps teachers to follow students’ individual learning progression so that they can personalise their teaching methods to reach the best results.
Domoscio is an online service that helps people learn new things quickly and remember them longer. An adoptive algorithm analyses their responses and suggests personalised learning paths.
Atta transforms digital educational content by adding an interactive level on top of it to make experience fun and engaging – a little tag in your online book would take you to discover more on the topic.
Think with Things develops a solution to boost creativity in a classroom or organisation using a set of simple physical objects and shapes.
Harness takes a classroom experience to the next level, allowing blended teaching and providing real-time personalised education.
Funbrush is an electronic toothbrush that pairs with an app to teach kids how to brush their teeth, making it a fun and healthy game.
All of these startups have an exciting journey ahead, taking their service to the next level and growing them into global businesses. You can read more about their time in Helsinki and follow the rest of their journey on the Open Education Challenge Blog or in a blog by Pierre-Antoine Ullmo on Education. And of course wish them luck!