I’m spending my time doing two things at the moment - acting as interim CTO for ELS, a learn from experience company, and providing some home schooling remotely for Millie, my 5 year old niece.
I should add, that as well as a career building online video and media management companies all over the world, I have a degree in Education and have been actively involved in the sector, sitting on a Course Board for City University for nearly a decade, for example.
So, I like to think that I know something about education and technology.
Which is why the past three weeks has been a shock. To deliver my lessons to Millie I’ve ended up using a combination of Office and Skype. Literally, old school. Meantime my nephews up in Wales are having their high school lessons delivered by un-interactive PDFs that they have to print out by the tens of pages. WTF ?
I’ve tried perhaps a hundred and twenty different packages and platforms, from Google Education to Anewspring, from Zoom to Hangouts, without finding a decent product for teaching one to one.
I work with some brilliant academics and educators and they have all suggested packages, but they are either too simple or too complex or lacking features (especially video IM), or are aimed at organisations not individuals.
At this stage it might be worth detailing what I’ve been doing with the team at ELS for the past year. They had a platform that was built for delivering apps to a wide range of platforms, especially VR apps, which they specialise in.
We’ve expended this to cover the creation, deployment, management and reporting of apps across any platform, from a web browser to a VR headset, taking in Android and iOS apps on the way.
It’s a hugely sophisticated platform and most recently we’ve been adding some really innovative concepts around measuring educational objectives and outcomes using SCORM/XAPI (define a verb undertaken by an actor to an object with an outcome) and creating content - an App can be made up of a module with Activities. Activities can be of any type, eg question and answer, multiple choice questionnaire, interaction with a bot, real world exercise, branching interaction, word cloud, picture cloud, video, text, image, live seminar. So, they can be combined into either a fixed or dynamic delivery, with detailed built in metrics, because I have a real bee in my bonnet about how education is measured that has come into sharp focus now that we’re going to have a year of students who will not sit exams (a dreadful concept at the best of times, even though I was one of the lucky ones who was rather good at them).
A major problem with education in any context is that very little aptitude testing happens on the way in, so you find a lot of people doing things they’re really not very good at.
Our platform can be used for this, and VR is a brilliant way of assessing this since you can add factors such as psychometric and physical measurements.
So, it now looks like necessity is the mother of invention and that I need to combine my knowledge of video and education to build a platform to deliver lessons to my niece.
It all goes to prove that times of adversity bring invention.