[EDITED - 3 May 2020]
COVID-19 and education: are we ready for the distant learning and teaching reality?
COVID-19 taught us many things about our weaknesses, but also our strengths and potentials. One of the new realities for all of us is to learn anew doing things we've always done but to do it remotely. What about education in this situation? but most importantly what about teachers, professors, students and parents? How do they (we) cope with the challenges of the distant teaching and learning? when education system basically moved into our homes?
The teachers and the students, but also the parents with huge dedication to the education of their children. Many good platforms and apps support them in this sudden transition (Google Classroom, or ClassDojo are just a couple of examples). However, with all the good features at hand, important challenges still remain unsolved – how to streamline and increase efficiency of on-line interactions between students and teachers engaged with learning material.
In simple words, how to help the teacher and the student save precious time and not be overwhelmed in the increased volume of online and all other types of communications, spending less time on technology, more on what really matters.
Power4Edu is here to solve this challenge!
Power4Edu is a lean, flexible, respectful, unique and scalable solution to help students understand their learning material and to support teachers in this important task! It can be implemented as a standalone solution or as a plug-in module to be integrated with existing software. We streamline question-answer flow on study materials powered by direct-to-content-referencing AI. Through this, we are leveraging the traditional classroom, connecting learners with a much larger class, teacher pool and support base for their study. We solve a focused problem, but it is an important one that cannot be overlooked. Our survey done during this Hackathon (and we thank all of the participants of it!) has shown that 71,4% of students find that in the times of forced by Covid-19 e-learning, they must work on learning materials individually more than usual. Most of them search in the Internet for answers (spending thus precious time and not necessarily finding the curated and full answers). Even if only 14,3% of them mentioned that they ask their teachers, our survey shows that 75% of the teachers are struggling and are overwhelmed by the need to answer repetitive questions coming from different students.
On the other hand, almost 86% of the students indicated that they either frequently or occasionally feel demotivated to study when they don’t understand their study material and cannot get a timely answer. This is a striking and worrying finding, that in the long-term has negative implications for the students’ growth and potentially even success in life. 90,9% of the teachers confirm this finding as well, majority of whom indicate that among the biggest challenges their students encounter is understanding of the text materials and resisting distractions.
Remarkably, 25% of students underlined that it’s not about the technology or fancy features when we think about the e-learning software interface. What is sought, is more responsive professors.
The solution’s impact to the crisis and beyond
The survey findings only confirmed - Power4Edu will have a huge impact not only for students, but teachers and parents as well, and not only during the times of crisis, but also beyond. Crisis situations helped us reveal the weak spots and prompted to act urgently seeing that the negative consequences scale dramatically.
With Power4Edu we don’t try to solve it all, but we strive to hack what has not been addressed till now, and that requires immediate attention from all of us. And we will do it in a smart way ☺
Direct benefits for the users of the Power4Edu solution and overall impact on the learning growth
● School kids and students understanding of study materials is improved by simplifying and optimizing the process for asking questions and getting answers. ● Interactions regarding a particular question / topic are streamlined and referencing is automized. This answers the wish both of the students and teachers using digital tools to increase classroom and learning process efficiency. ● The workload of the teachers and lecturers is reduced / shared (once the answer was given, it will be referred to. There is no need to answer twice on a similar question regarding study material). ● Synergies between various class communities, both across national and international levels are facilitated when the same learning materials are used (schools and university curricula quite often are overlapping) ● Safety of kids is addressed as it would reduce for them the need to search answers in open internet and enter malicious websites, etc.
All this contributes to the increased positive impact of the digital learning and, in turn, further achievements in life.
What are the distinctive advantages of the Power4Edu?
Power4Edu USPs ● enables spending less time on technology, more on what really matters ● not limited to the subject you are learning or teaching ● not limited to the classroom, school, or even country. Cross-linkages between classes, courses etc. are possible widening the pool of answer givers - national, and international. ● scalable both geographically, but also functionally - at the back-end, without overburden the end users (keeping it lean and simple)
Our achievements during this weekend
In this Hackathon, with our amazing team and with all your support, we’ve been able make important steps from the ideation process to validation of idea and 1st development steps towards its implementation.
What we have done:
- Refining and giving life to Power4Edu
- Conceptualization and defining all application components
- Building several instances of our first web applications
- Designing the UI & drafting mock-ups
- Creating a story line for our project
- Conducting a valuable survey
- First steps of validating our product case
- Enriching and empowering Power4Edu with experts and mentors
- Reaching out and connecting to a multitude of stakeholders to follow-up
- Forming a strong multinational team with 6 professionals, who are competent and ready to implement
Challenges we mastered:
- Server failures
- Communication breakdowns
- Coordination of geographically spread team over several time zones
- Lack of fresh air and sun :)
We approached this with a critical and enthusiastic mindset. We were challenging each other, and we asked to be challenged by mentors, peers and potential stakeholders.
What’s next for Power4Edu?
Realisation timelines for Power4Edu:
- Starting locally, e.g. in schools, 2-3 weeks are planned for running version. According to feedback from IT experts, with contracted effort from the technical side this is well possible.
- For an interoperating system with exchanging question-answer-communication between schools or universities, an alpha pilot version can be operational in 2-3 months.
- A good standard for quality and stability of all Power4Edu applications can be achieved after 6 month.
- The official certificate for data protection standards will take about 3 months to be awarded.
For our follow-up after EU Hackathon we organize in work packages:
WP 1 - Preparation phase
Implementing the lessons learnt from Hackathon Planning team capacities Schedule further expert interviews Schedule further stakeholder interviews Multinational survey among diverse teachers, school board, ministry of education Acquiring stakeholders for pilot application feedback and testing Implementation of UX study case, with persons from target group Development roadmap Actions for quality assurance Legal + data protection consultations
- Liability for any undesirable consequence stemming from the usage of the application / web platform.
WP 2 - Development phase
Further consultations with stakeholders / target audience Web Platform Development Mobile Application Development AI architecture optimization Database operations and backup
WP 3 - Testing
With 5 pilot partners (schools/dispersed)
- Extensive Web Application Testing
- Extensive Mobile Application Testing Testing of maintenance cycles Testing security against malicious attacks
WP 4 - Product integration
Engineering of the subsystem interactions Assembly of App from the App components Test for proper integrated App functions Integration with external systems Management of internal and external interfaces/protocols Test in different IT environments
WP 5 - Commercialization
- Business plan
- How would we commercialize?
- Market analysis of the product (data!, e.g. Bloomberg) Contract negotiations and offers with IP rights holders/publishing houses Mobile Application Launch and Marketing
We envisage this software to be free for our target audience - teachers and students. There are several models to be explored of how functioning of such a model can be ensured.
WP 6 - Project management
Project coordination Communications Resource and time planning Monitoring Evaluation Optimization Reporting Planning application maintenance, training and support
Business development and planning
Development for target groups in 3 phases
1) Pupils / students / teachers / lecturers 2) Life-long learning participants 3) Anyone who is studying
Integration of other stakeholders
1) School administrations / ministries 2) Owners of the IP rights over the learning materials (e.g. publishing houses) 3) Other software companies (with whom synergies/plugins are possible)
Market potential of the target group “learners”
- 20 million students (Eurostat, 2016)
- 42 million pupils in secondary education (Eurostat, 2015)
Our human necessities to move forward with swift impact • Additional Frontend developer (UI/UX) • Additional Backend developer (AI/Database) • Cloud manager • Integration manager • Senior DevOps Engineer • Sales representative • Project Manager
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED US ALONG THE WAY!
Take care and don't hesitate to comment, give your feedback, or otherwise simply get in touch with us! Power4Edu team :)