I have spent a significant amount of time in ed-tech space as an obsessed self-learning practitioner, stealth mode founder of multiple ed-tech projects, operator & founding member of an ed-tech social enterprise, and founding member of an ed-tech impact fund, housed within Gray Matters Capital.
To be honest, with my investor lens, I started getting skeptical about ed-tech space in the last few years, but now, during and after COVID-19, I see a ray of hope and opportunity in developing new models of learning. Is this what was needed for large-scale adoption of digital and self-learning?
Over 130 countries have had nationwide closures due to COVID-19, affecting nearly 80% of the world’s student population. School and university closures have far-reaching societal and economic consequences. Some of the reasons listed below (taken from UNESCO) help us to understand the gravity of school closures and why it should matter to each one of us.
Disruption in learning: Schooling provides essential education, and when schools close, children and the youth are deprived of opportunities for growth and development. Underprivileged learners have even fewer educational opportunities beyond school.
Parents unprepared for homeschooling: When schools close, most parents struggle to facilitate the learning of children at home. It is particularly true for parents with inadequate education and means.
Inadequate access to digital learning: Lack of access to technology or functional internet connectivity is a hindrance to continued education, particularly for underprivileged students.
Social isolation: Schools are centers of social activity and human interaction. When schools close, children/ youth miss out on contact that is essential for their development.
Nutrition: Many children rely on free meals provided at government schools, and their food is comprised during school closures.
Pressure on the health-care system: Female health-care workers often cannot go to work because of childcare responsibilities due to school closures, which further strains the health care system during a health crisis.
There is an urgent need to start structuring our systems, capability, and infrastructure to deliver reasonable services during school closures and beyond. We should stop assuming that continuity of education outside of a typical classroom cannot occur; educators and technologists need to come together to reduce the barriers to learning outside the classrooms. The entrepreneurs can use this opportunity to bring elements of instructor-led, portfolio-approach, social and peer to peer learning to kids sitting at home, using various tools like Zoom, Slack, Notion, Instructables, and Tandem, or building tools from scratch.
Picture Credits: One of SAR's Zoom sessions included guitar music. (Courtesy of SAR Academy)
Open Education Resources [OERs]: distribute and share it within your community and build solutions on top of OERs just like open-source codes by using AI, NLP, ML, AR, VR, and other mediums of technology which can make the education more accessible, affordable and personalized.
In my previous avatars as an operator and OERs enthusiast, I have curated a list of educational applications, platforms, and resources listed below that aim to facilitate student learning and provide interaction during periods of school closure. Many of these resources are free, with a broad reach, and have evidence of impact.
21st Century learning and coding for kids
Coding apps: Tynker, The Foos, Lightbot, Kodable, Catrobat, Code Spark
Learning Fundamentals (Maths, Science, and English)
ClassDojo: connects teachers with students and parents to build classroom communities.
Edmodo: Tools and resources to manage classrooms and engage students remotely.
EkStep: Open learning platform with learning resources to support literacy and numeracy.
Moodle: Community-driven and globally-supported open learning platform.
Google Classroom: Helps classes connect remotely, communicate, and stay organized.
Seesaw Activity Library - Enables the creation of collaborative/ sharable digital learning portfolios/ learning resources.
I am continuously looking for ed-tech solutions that can create mass-market ed-tech products for direct consumers or schools/universities. If you are building one or investing in one in Indonesia or SEA, please do write to me, I would love to learn more from you.
Occasionally, he blogs about the responsible investing, tech for good, venture capital, investment thesis, conscious capitalism, collaborative consumption, community, and humane lifestyle.