LessonApp had the privilege to take part in Next Billion EdTech Prize in Global Education and Skills Forum organized by Varkey Foundation in Dubai last week. The Varkey Foundation aims to ensure that every child gets a good education and works with a good teacher.
“The Next Billion Prize was created to shine a light on those gifted entrepreneurs that are not only ingenious, but also bold and persistent enough to bring forward the revolutionary ideas that are desperately needed to transform education in those parts of the world where there is limited access to high quality teaching” says Vikas Pota, Group Chief Executive of Tmrw Digital, which runs the Next Billion Prize.
For LessonApp it was a huge honor to be chosen among the 30 finalists out of 800 EdTech startups to take part in the competition. It was also incredibly inspiring opportunity to meet education leaders and influencers and fellow EdTech start-up entrepreneurs from all over the world.
As Varkey Foundation states: ”Too often, teachers are not trained or supported to be effective – and that means pupils are not learning. One recent study from the World Bank showed that only 9% of teachers in sub Saharan Africa had the minimum required knowledge of pedagogy to effectively teach the curriculum, and only 7% could correctly mark a year 4 test on spelling and comprehension.” And this is the case in many other emerging countries, too.
Many EdTech companies have found different ways to tackle this problem of inadequately trained teachers.
Many have decided to produce quality content to teachers to cover different subject areas. On the other hand, many companies have decided to create solutions that reach out straight to the students to provide learning opprtunities via technology without teachers needed. These all seemed like interesting ways to provide new possibilities to raise the quality of education.
We also stumbled upon solutions that aimed to provide teachers ready-made solutions basically anybody could apply. The idea was to give teachers, no matter what their peadogogical level was, detailed, prefabricated instructions, what to do. While this can be helpful in some cases, there lies a fundamental problem, too. Teachers are easily seen as bare instruments transmitting someone else’s plans. In this model there is little room for teachers’ professional growth or faith in their ability to develop.
Our solution, LessonApp, is based on a different view. We believe, that all teachers, no matter what is the level of knowledge they start with, have an ability to grow and develop professionally. We believe, that all teachers, if given quality knowledge, models and tools, can develop their own professional expertise, gain deeper understanding of learning and teaching, and be able to provide better lessons for their students. That’s why LessonApp provides quality pedagogical knowledge, easy-to-apply model to create meaningful lesson structure and a lot of well-instructed teaching methods for teachers to choose from themselves.
If teaching is based on coping ready-made models, there is a great chance, that the prefabricated plans don’t work as intended. If a teacher is lacking deeper understanding, why certain things are done, she/he may instruct the students poorly and learning results are unsatisfactory. In this approach the teacher is also not capable of modifying the plans, if the learning situation changes anyhow.
To our mind, quality teaching is never a mechanical act. Instead, it is an intentional, creative interaction, based on deep understanding of learning.
Our aim has never been to offer teachers shallow ready models to just copy and repeat. Our goal is to help teachers to gain professional understanding and increase their expertise. Instead of giving a fish, we want to teach how to fish yourself.