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5 edtech startups that could teach you a lesson or two

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From whiteboards to iPads, technology has always been used to improve how people learn.

But it’s not difficult to believe some of today’s innovations are capable of replacing traditional education altogether.

Over dinner we took a look at some of Britain’s most exciting edtech startups, and explored how they could affect your life sooner than you think.

Report: EdTech spend will reach $252bn by 2020

Vivi Friedgut – Blackbullion

Blackbullion teach people how to manage their personal finances.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 00.31.16They work with schools, universities and workplaces to offer employability and financial education programs to help people create their own path to financial security.

The whole education industry is ripe for change – but like all change this will take time.

What challenges do you see edtech facing in the near future?

Edtech needs to prove its credibility in the market. It’s still a small ecosystem that’s gradually getting more and more funding, but it’s competing with established business that have been doing it a lot longer.

What are the next steps for Blackbullion?

We want to get into every school and university in the country, as we believe financial skills are ones every student should have. After that we want to target the corporate space, as everyone can benefit from understanding how to manage their money.

Jim Moodie – edspire

edspire is a search engine for online learning.

jimAnswer a few questions on what you’re hoping to achieve and how you learn best, and the site displays a categorised list of courses and resources that could help.

People in education are naturally – and quite rightly – not commercially-minded. This makes the sector very open to disruption.

What challenges do you see edtech facing in the near future?

Edtech is constrained historically by institutions that are hundreds of years old. The difficulty is getting people who want to learn to think outside the box.

What are the next steps for edspire?

We want to grow our user base, and our bank of resources. We also want to develop the user experience – every person who searches has different aims, and our engine needs to reflect this as much as possible.

Ben_Whatley [the interviewee] and_Mousha

Ben Whately – Cat Academy

Cat Academy teaches you a new language – using the power of cats.

Ben_WhatelySeeing the cats act out words and phrases as you learn makes the whole process of getting to grips with a new tongue that bit more enjoyable.

We covered Ben in the first edition of our quarterly Print Magazine.

What is it about the smartphone that can help people learn above all other devices? It’s how effectively they connect people together.

What challenges do you see edtech facing in the near future?

The tasks that you mean to do but consistently put off are usually associated with worry or stress about the task itself. Education is a prime example, and we need to be constantly thinking about how to help users overcome that fear.

What are the next steps for Cat Academy?

Our founder says the phrase “Cat Academy” came to him in a dream – but he’s now wondering if it was actually “Chat Academy”. We want to use direct dialogue with other learners as a means to helping people progress to the next level of communication when they’re learning a language.

Sinead Mac Manus – Fluency.io

Fluency.io wants to help reduce youth unemployment by training up young people to perform the digital tasks that every company needs. sinead

They provide an organisational framework that accepts, delegates and manages the web design and digital marketing projects that clients send in.

Maybe the secret to online learning is including offline elements within the process.

What challenges do you see edtech facing in the near future?

It’s incredibly hard to motivate people to learn online. There’s a magic to face-to-fcae training and we need to work out how to replicate that online.

What are the next steps for Fluency.io?

We’re launching new programmes with youth charities and organisations like the Prince’s Trust. We want to experiment with levels of engagement to optimise the process of how we teach and work.

James Larbi – Pre-ued

Pre-ued delivers courses made by universities to prospective students.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 00.35.38The students get to study a course for free, and the universities get to showcase their strengths to potential applicants.

We want to revolutionise classroom learning by starting with a blank canvas.

What challenges do you see edtech facing in the near future?

Companies need to try to get a good compromise between impact and revenue. All edtech startups start out wanting to change the world, but they need a balance with earning revenue too.

What are the next steps for Pre-ued?

We want to offer wider access to education. Ultimately we want to make it so that anyone in the world can take classes that result in worldwide accredited qualifications.

This article originated from an event held by TableCrowd, where like-minded people can meet and network over a meal.

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