A new Space for Exchanging Innovative Ideas about Education
A modern space in a classic building of the Ministry of National Education which opened its doors only six months ago. LAB110bis is situated just at the entrance of the prestigious building of the Ministry. It is the new space dedicated to innovate, collect and promote the innovative ideas about Education.
LAB110bis is not just a space, but a continuous lifecycle of dialogue between actors of education. It’s about the transformations that impact the knowledge society, like the digital transformation in primary and secondary education. A real stimulator for new ideas and new ways of working, for collaborations, documentations and to accompany the carriers of innovative projects.
Breakfast Session #4 at the EdTech Observatory
The Breakfast Session was presented by Cap Digital and is part of the EdTech (the contraction of Education and Technologies or Technologies of Education) Observatory. This is an organisation for players involved in education and educational development in France, like EDFab and the AFINEF.
Educational Start-up Ideas based on the Freemium principle
The Breakfast Session of 5 February was a Pitch of 13 Start-Ups offering learning services for elementary and secondary kids outside of school hours. In one minute, 60 seconds, these companies had to present their propositions to the public, which consisted of different educational entities.
All the start-ups had already done research and practical tests with their services or products to prove it’s feasibility and to show their idea fulfils a certain need in the market. Most of the projects were focussing on B2B target groups, like schools, teachers and municipalities. The economical model they used was based on the Freemium principle. In this principle, the service is free of use for the school kids and based upon an annual subscription for the payer (the school, teacher or the parents).
Round Table Animation
After these 13minute pitches there was a round table animation which was lead by Sharon Sofer, founder of the Startup For Kids. The other invited people were the co-founder of Edumalin, the General Director of Acadomia, the Director of Development of the Digischool Group, the founder of Magic Makers and a representative of DJEPVA, a department of the ministry of Education. Acadomia and the Digischool Group offer already successful services for extracurricular activities.
During the round table animation one of the Start-Up participants in the room stated that it is still hard to reach a sufficient size for a start up project to become financially healthy. It was said that the formal administrative route through the Ministry of National Education has a long lead time and sometimes come down to the fact that these innovative products and services are not included in the formal educational curriculum what makes it difficult to obtain financial support for it.
Teachers as Influencers
The advice from the round table was to start on a small local skill by approaching teachers rather than trying to go directly to the National Educational Administration. The local municipalities, schools and teachers can create a good base as a start for the transition to a bigger scale. The focus here is mainly on the teacher, as the influence of the teacher on other teachers and the school management is crucial for expanding the usage of the innovative products and services to all classes and to the school as a whole.
Teachers as coaches
Another question related to primary education is to what extend additional activities can be considered as a substitution of the responsibilities of the teachers in the former curriculum , and if so, if they are desirable? This is of course also related to the way we look at the teachers role. Traditionally the teacher is the central person to transfer knowledge to the children, especially the basic skills of speaking, writing, reading and counting in primary education. But the new vision of the teacher is that of a coach, a person who guides and encourages school kids to incorporate the knowledge. The centralised transfer of knowledge is converted into a more active learning method in which school kids are central and they exchange knowledge and learn skills not only from the teacher but also from the group in the classroom. In the so-called converted classroom or flippedclassroom, the kids learn the basic level skills at home before coming to the classroom in order to dedicate more time to work on the higher level soft and hard skills in the classroom. But some argued that this evoques inequity as not all kids would have the possibility to study quietly at home at their own pace.
Succesful Educational Projects
Fortunately there are successful educational projects that have reached a large national user base. The Digischool Group has many users with the Digischool.nl and it is also a platform for making the connection between teachers and parents or students to exchange the offer and demand of learning services. The Digischool offers a free version with advertising, like a You Tube or Spotify channel, and besides this free version also offers premium services against payment. The success however is in the reach they acquainted over time and a large user base which allowed them to attract companies that are interested to communicate with these target groups. In this way, these companies can present their services on line to that specific target group while keeping the platform, the Digischool access for free for the users . This allows the Digischool to grow fast while keeping their base version for free for all users.
Another successful educational service is the Project Voltaire based on memory automatisation technology from the company Woonoz. Project Voltaire is an on line orthographic and language learning program which is supported by many educational institutions, teachers, parents and partners and has more than 5 million users. It works with a Memory Anchor® technology that allows a faster learning process and a longer memory of the things you have learned. Its a result of artificial intelligence and cognitive science, able to establish your memorisation profile and initial level of knowledge which is then automatically developed to make personalised corrections on your mistakes which helps you to improve faster. It is for people of all ages, and can be used in school, at home and for in-company trainings.
Innovative (e-)Marketing Strategy
The learnings from the succesfull projects like Digischool and Project Voltaire show that ones you have developed an innovative educational service or product you’re only half way ! Even in the cases when the Ministry of National Education can give a support for the development of educational -learning applications which give a positive contribution to the schoolkids learning outcomes, the service provider itself is responsible for the sales and marketing of his innovative product. This requires an innovative (e-) marketing and user centric sales strategy to create a large enough user base for a financially healthy growth.
This article is a part of the Masterclass Education, where we are studying the transformation of the digitalisation in Primary Education in France. The purpose is not only to analyse the actual situation but also to think about the changes and consequences for the school kids and their future in a changing digital environment.
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