The rate of innovation, when it comes to the development of interactive, intuitive and predictive learning technologies, shows no signs of letting up. Consequently, the need to evidence the impact of edtech on educational outcomes and ensuring it effectively meets the needs of teachers and learners using it remains an ongoing challenge. In June 2017, a groundbreaking new research project was born, which addresses this very issue: the EDUCATE project.
Led by UCL’s Institute of Education Knowledge Lab, in partnership with Nesta, F6S, UCL Engineering and the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), the EDUCATE programme connects entrepreneurs, teachers and schools with researchers and industry to inform the design of high-quality educational technology products that are fit for purpose, adaptable and easy to use – whenever and however a teacher needs to access them.
Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the EDUCATE programme focuses on pedagogical research and shines a light on the products that deliver real value to teachers and learners. It gives participating edtech entrepreneurs and innovators access to existing academic evidence to assist them in the development of their products and services. In doing so, it helps them to ensure that their technologies are effective, marketable and relevant to the needs of the teachers and students in the classroom – and, in many cases, beyond.
By helping edtech entrepreneurs – some of whom will themselves be teachers – to design and develop pioneering edtech, EDUCATE is, in turn, helping to enhance the way that teachers teach, and learners learn – and to ensure that the UK continues to lead the way in edtech globally.
Examples of past EDUCATE participants
The EDUCATE programme has already been working with a number of edtech companies, both start-ups and established businesses, and it will soon start its fifth cohort.
Part of the first cohort, CENTURY Tech works on ways to use artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce teacher workload while improving learning outcomes. “EDUCATE offered a completely new dimension to our work,” said Priya Lakhani, Chief Executive of CENTURY Tech. “One of the reasons for joining was so that we could access academic knowledge and apply that rigour to our work, in terms of data insights and methodologies. Our neuroscientists and data scientists have been working together with EDUCATE to identify research angles that will be beneficial to our students and teachers.”
“Taking part in one of the many EDUCATE pilot exercises is a great opportunity for school heads to lead the way in enhancing learning in their own schools and beyond.”
Mathigon, on the other hand, is a start-up that teaches maths through interactive content allowing students to explore and discover new ideas by themselves.
“I had never worked as a teacher,” said founder Philipp Legner. “So I wanted to be sure that Mathigon was offering something students and teachers would find engaging. The research training at EDUCATE provided me access to relevant academic papers and evidence. The mentors also helped me write my own research proposal, to collect data that will be important for further developing Mathigon.”
Test out a new EdTech solution from an EDUCATE participant
Making sure the entrepreneurs who participate in EDUCATE deliver products and edtech solutions that are not only fit for purpose, but are solving a problem for the teachers and students engaging with those solutions, is integral to the aims of the EDUCATE programme. This is why the drivers of the EDUCATE programme are so passionate about harnessing the expertise of teachers.
With a variety of products to choose from, taking part in one of the many EDUCATE pilot exercises is a great opportunity for school heads to lead the way in enhancing learning in their own schools and beyond whether they work in early years, primary or secondary, and whatever their experience using edtech. Pilots will start in September, but all expressions of interest must be received by the first week of June.
To register your school’s interest, please visit the EDUCATE website: educate.london/schools