Education

13 digital leaders driving education forward

By Kitty Knowles 9 May 2016
Summary

British games studios, revision apps and teacher resources. These are 13 leaders in education technology you need to know right now.

One of the fantastic things about technology is that it changes so rapidly. It seems like every day there’s something new to read about, or another app to try. We love learning about new trends and ideas, and the fact you read The Memo probably means you do too.

But what about when technology is used to aid learning itself? When we make digital resources that challenge and inspire us, tools that help us to learn and teach?

This May we’re celebrating the world of education technology, and it seemed only fitting to direct you towards the people who are leading the way.

We would never pretend that this is a decisive list, but hopefully this celebration of British business and entrepreneurship will help to show just a few ways digital is shaping our world for the better right now.

Some names you will recognise, others you won’t, but we hope you’re inspired by these 13 leaders in digital education…

1) George Burgess, Gojimo

A serial entrepreneur, 23-year-old George Burgess started building education-focused apps at just 17 and today is the creator of Britain’s most popular exam preparation app Gojimo.

The revision service, founded in London in 2014, has just released a new offshoot app called Gojimo Tutor which offers one-to-one support with a real-life teacher.

Used by kids across the UK, Burgess believes that the future of education lies in making the most of big data, and embracing more mobile phones & games in the classroom.

Read more: George Burgess: Our education system needs to smarten up with big data, more mobile phones & games

2 & 3) Lucy Rome & Deena Wiseman, co-founders Dream Learners

Founded in 2012, Dream Learners make bedtime stories that support skills across the curriculum.

Developed by London-based primary school teachers Lucy Rome and Deena Wiseman – and backed by Lord Winston, a Professor of science and society at Imperial College – the storytelling platform was recently shortlisted for the Richard Branson’s Global Startup prize.

The library of magical, animated stories are designed to be shared with children aged 3-9, for around 90 minutes before bedtime.

3) Carl Dawson, co-founder and CEO, Proversity

Fresh from the Mayor’s International Business Programme trip to Silicon Valley, Proversity is one to watch.

CEO Carl Dawson spent nearly 10 years working in HR for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which may well be why the platform is tailored so closely towards recruitment – educating users in specific skills that will enable them to connect with partnered companies.

The London-born business, founded in 2011, now has offices in Boston, Cape Town, and Santiago, and is on a mission to bridge the skills gap between graduates and employers across the world.

4) Lucy Stonehill, CEO and founder, BridgeU

One of Forbes 30 Under 30 for Technology in Europe, Stonehill founded BridgeU in 2014 after she – and her friends – struggled with their university applications.

Now based at London’s Google Campus, the platform, which helps students find and get into the best global universities, has won a slew of awards including EdTech Europe 20 winner and a South by South West Edu All star.

Six months ago the company raised $2.5m, to continue its path to success.

5 & 6) Mark Horneff & David Miller, co-founders, Kuato

Founded in 2012, Mark Horneff and David Miller’s educational games studio Kuato is fast becoming one of London’s most-loved.

Actress Uma Thurman was at hand to launch the company’s incredible Dino Tales and Safari Tales games in New York last year, and last month the studio was praised by Barack Obama at the White House Science Fair.

The company is known for its game-first ethos, and it’s most popular game Code Warriors – which uses robot mazes to teach kids how to code – has been played hundreds and thousands of times.

Read more: Meet Kuato – The British games studio loved by parents, teachers & even Barack Obama

6) Sam Chaudhary, CEO & co-founder, ClassDojo

British entrepreneur Sam Chaudhary lived in Wales and Abu Dhabi before studying economics at Cambridge University and going on to work at McKinsey’s London education group.

He and co-founder Liam Don moved to California in 2011 to launch ClassDojo, a free classroom management app that over 35m teachers, parents and students now use to share messages, photos, and videos.

Earlier this year the company announced a new partnership with Stanford University, and last month it raised a further $21 million of funding. ClassDojo is currently on the Y Combinator accelerator.

7) Bethany Koby, co-founder & CEO, Technology Will Save Us

Based in Hackney, East London, Bethany Koby‘s business Technology Will Save Us encourages hands on learning with technology through includes DIY Gadget kits, activities and online resources.

The company recently recently designed the BBC micro:bit in partnership with the BBC, Samsung and ARM, and has helped to inspire imaginations across 97 countries around the world.

This week the tech toy company also launched their first new product in 2 years, the DIY Mover Kit.

This is the world’s first wearable that kids can code themselves, making it part accessory part smart learning tool. Eat that, Apple Watch.

Read more: 9 amazing educational tech toys for kids

8) Jon Smith, CEO & co-founder, Pobble

Jon Smith founded Pobble under the name Lend Me Your Literacy in 2013, alongside fellow Harrogate teachers Henry Smith, Simon Blower, and Tom Garbutt.

The platform helps encourage learning by showcasing students’ stories, who are motivated by comments and praise they receive.

The award-winning site now hosts more than 40,000 pieces of written work by users in over 100 countries and is now on the esteemed Microsoft Ventures Accelerator.

A number of high-profile authors have given Pobble their support including bestselling children’s author Michael Morpurgo.

9) Tom and Nicola Chilman, Doodle Maths

The Bath-based husband-wife teacher duo Tom and Nicola Chilman wanted to create an app that could act like a tutor, but at a fraction of the cost.

DoodleMaths is now the UK’s best-selling maths app which uses unique algorithms to ensure the work presented to students is adapted to their individual strengths and weaknesses.

With new features added regularly, the app continues to win awards, including Best Mobile App at this year’s SPARKies.

10) Aldo de Pape, founder, TeachPitch

A former teacher, Aldo de Pape founded TeachPitch in 2014 after struggling to navigate the abundance of learning resources while working in the Netherlands.

Now based in London, his company helps teachers identify the best online resources by allowing them to see, save, rate and share the most relevant digital resources, and discover a network of teachers from around the world.

In 2016 the business continues to go from strength to strength and just last week de Pape was invited to “talk technology for teachers & schools at Number 10 Downing Street”.

11) Simon Nelson, CEO, FutureLearn

After 14 years working on the BBC’s digital transformation, Simon Nelson joined The Open University to launch FutureLearn in 2012.

This is the first UK-led massive open online course (MOOC) learning platform, and it features resources from more than 50 UK and international University partners.

Unusually, FutureLearn also offers students access to non-University resources from partners including the British Museum, the British Council, the British Library and the National Film and Television School.

A hit on the tech scene, recent businesses to get stuck in include London games studio UsTwo, and kids coding network Code Club.