The importance - and lack - of research in EdTech
As a tech company that works with school students and teachers, we have a tremendous opportunity to improve results and improve lives for our users. We also have a responsibility to ensure that every minute spent using Tassomai is as beneficial to the user as it can be.
Many other companies in our position surely feel this same weight of responsibility. School budgets are also stretched, meaning teachers and decision makers feel an equal pressure to ensure that the resources they put into acquiring edtech are well spent.
The problem is that there is a dearth of information that reliably assures schools of what tech works and adds value, and little high-quality research into the benefits of the various tech solutions out there. Numerous reports underline the importance of teacher recommendation in these decisions - something we are well aware of since our growth has been driven primarily by word of mouth among teachers.
We know Tassomai works - we’ve seen the impact of its use on many thousands of exam results and heard hundreds of testimonials from teachers, students and parents that tell us we’ve made a big difference to outcomes.
Nevertheless, it was our priority for this year to build an enhanced research function into our development. In order to meet our responsibility to look after our users, it is essential that we examine every part of what we do, find out what’s working and why (and what’s not working) to allow us better to serve our users. As we analyse, research and learn, we can continue to develop Tassomai towards being an indispensable education tool for everyone.
Our experience with Educate
When we contacted UCL and the Institute of Education about research, we learned of their Educate program that teaches EdTech startups how to conduct research and provide properly assured evidence of efficacy to potential customers. Naturally the opportunity to participate and learn from world-class researchers was one we weren’t going to miss.
The six month journey through the Educate program has been more valuable than we could have ever expected. Through our participation we have met amazing experts who not only shared with us a wealth of pedagogical insight related to what we were doing but also helped our team develop research abilities, analytical skills, advised us on product development, team structures and strategies and introduced us to mentors in the industry that are opening doors for the future.
We look forward to an exciting year ahead - our research project is well underway (more news on that soon!), but more importantly we have a company-wide research-first mindset that will ensure that all the projects we embark on have measurable efficacy and the benefit to the user at their core. We’ve also got some updates to the program coming soon that are informed by what we’ve learnt at Educate - so watch this space!
We are hugely grateful to the Educate team for the support they have given us over the past few months - and as we celebrate the program with the EdWards at the Festival of Learning this week, we know we finish the program a more capable, more responsible company, better able to improve the lives of our students and their teachers.
Based at the Knowledge Lab, at UCL’s Institute of Education, EDUCATE is match-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and UCL’s partners: UCL Engineering, the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), Nesta and F6S.
This collaboration brings together all the strands of knowledge, experience and expertise needed to produce world-class EdTech.