From education to employment

Looking ahead to the future, what developments do you expect to see in the world of EdTech?

Nikolas Kairinos, CEO, SoffosTM

Q: What has the #EdTech Market been missing?

The world we live in is saturated by information. Whether it’s a news alert on our cell phones, an advert on public transport, or an announcement on the radio, we are constantly bombarded with new knowledge on a daily basis. In my opinion, we need better ways to process this information, and the EdTech industry should be leading the way. In general, the education industry has fallen behind other sectors in its efforts towards digital transformation and fails to reflect the nature of the modern world.

Unlike other industries, the education sector was relatively old-fashioned in its processes before the onset of COVID-19. The way knowledge was taught and learned had not been revolutionised by technology in the same way that other industries had. For example, in the fitness industry, Virtual Reality (VR) compatible, community-based technology such as Peloton, made indoor fitness a much more innovative and engaging activity.

In many ways, the pandemic has set long overdue developments in the education arena in motion – shifting from the physical classroom to virtual settings, for example, has made learning a more independent and flexible pursuit. But there are still gaps in the technology on the market today. One issue that I am particularly conscious of, is that learners often struggle to engage in virtual settings – retaining information can also prove more troublesome with online learning, particularly if students struggle to focus outside the remit of the traditional classroom. Learning from home puts more responsibility on the individual to stay engaged and effectively learn material on their own, so we saw the need for a solution to help individuals stay on track.

Essentially, TestMe arms individuals with a personal assistant to help them retain information in a fun and engaging way. Powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven algorithms, the platform creates flashcards and quizzes based on the material that users provide, allowing them to put their knowledge to the test independently. By simply uploading their notes, TestMe can create hundreds of questions sets and quizzes in a matter of minutes, dramatically cutting down the amount of time users would have to spend creating revision materials manually.

The AI allows users to answer in their own words before showing them the correct answer and, individuals can re-test their knowledge to ensure they have fully retained the information. The platform even gamifies the experience, allowing users to create unique resources that they can share with their friends, as well as competing against others on leader boards. We hope this adds something special to the learning experience and that users will find it a more engaging way to fill the gap of physical learning as and when it is needed.

Q: Who is TestMe geared towards?

The beauty of this technology is that it can be used in a variety of ways, for a variety of people. It would potentially be most useful to students preparing for assessments, or alternatively, teachers, tutors and parents who want to help them achieve the best results possible. That said, TestMe can also be used in a business setting. There are a whole host of reasons why organisations would benefit from using a product like ours, chief amongst which is the fact that it can help employees retain important company information and give them a competitive edge. From a sales enablement perspective, a sales team might find that TestMe helps them to really nail their pitches and retain all the information required to convert and boost sales.

In educational settings, teachers and training leaders can make the most of TestMe’s sharing functionality to test and measure their students’ knowledge with a simple tap. By taking a quick glance at the leader boards, they can easily see the areas where learners require more support, which can be a real godsend when creating future learning plans.

Beyond this, the technology is so flexible that really anybody can use it to improve their learning. If you have an upcoming exam, a pop quiz, or even a job interview, you could use TestMe to ensure that you know your stuff.

Q: Do you think that schools and companies will change their stance on hybrid learning now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased, or will new ways of learning stick around permanently?

It is obvious that things have changed dramatically over the last two years from an educational perspective. While learning throughout this period hasn’t been without its issues, more generally it has shown that learning can be so much more flexible than it was in the past. E-Learning is vital for education continuity and EdTech should lead the way when it comes to maintaining a good balance between the classroom and at-home learning.

Looking specifically at the corporate world, I believe that workers will continue to look for more flexible professional development opportunities that cater to hybrid working patterns and allow them to spend more time at home where possible. Of course, I’m not suggesting that in-person learning should be displaced entirely – it is irrefutable that the classroom will always hold an important place in the world of learning. That said, learning during COVID-19 has been an important lesson for educators and institutions. More than just a stop-gap solution, it has underscored the importance of autonomous learning. Beyond just studying for short-term goals like SATs and mid-terms throughout the pandemic, independent learning is a real skill that will carry many young learners through life, long after high school or college.

Our research has found that people like remote instruction for its convenience, and many want to see the EdTech sector to go further in creating new and innovative ways of instruction. In my opinion, it would be a shame for the developments made in the last two years to be forgotten, simply because the COVID situation has improved – there is still so much that AI-powered EdTech can do to revolutionize education for everyone and help them to reach their learning goals.

Q: What are the specific challenges associated with online learning and how will TestMe step in to help learners overcome them?

As I have already mentioned, naturally, there are difficulties that come along with re-situating a predominantly in-person activity. At the start of the pandemic, many institutions were blindsided and had few provisions in place to shift to an entirely online model of education. Likewise, some educators have struggled to adapt to teaching online, or hold the focus of their students over Zoom or Teams for hours on end. As a consequence, many learners have had their education disrupted and negatively impacted due to COVID-19, and this is a result of a reluctance to adopt new technological solutions for learning, and on a much grander scale, a failure to embrace change.

If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, it is that we are all vulnerable to disruptions like these. When it comes down to it, technology has stepped up to enable education continuity in even the most unsettling of times. As such, it’s important that we build on the solutions we have created to deal with COVID-19. Doing so ensures that we are prepared to deal with other disturbances that naturally crop up throughout life, such as illness, extreme weather conditions, or personal commitments. Solutions like TestMe enable us to keep our knowledge up to date as it does much of the hard work for us. The act of preparing revision materials, for example, can be arduous. So, learners will find that it is a big help to have a platform that does the prep work on their behalf. Being able to use TestMe from any device, anywhere in the world, enables learners to continue their education stress-free come what may.

Q: Looking ahead to the future, what developments do you expect to see in the world of EdTech?

I believe AI has so much potential in this industry. For teachers, advanced technology will help to identify any gaps in their class’s knowledge, enabling them to plan lessons which home in on specific topics of difficulty. Already, this is an area that has seen some impressive advancements, but going forward, it will hopefully spell an end to the typical ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to education that many institutions adopt. After all, some students will find learning more difficult than others, and they need as much targeted support as possible.

I think gamification is another avenue that we can expect to see experts in the EdTech space pursuing much more aggressively in the years to come – especially the development of augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) technologies. The ability to transport learners, whether that’s to Ancient Rome or the corporate boardroom, will enable them to immerse themselves in the subject matter fully. As such, they can experience life as a Roman, or practice their sales negotiation skills without the pressure of doing it face to face, or having to read textbooks on the subject, if this is something that they struggle with. I believe this will make education endlessly more engaging and fun for learners, providing them with endless opportunities for improvement.

Nikolas Kairinos is the chief executive officer and founder of SoffosTM, which is building the next generation of educational technology solutions

Related Articles