Dominic Traynor, from EDUCATE cohort A Tale Unfolds, talks movingly in this TEDx event about pupil power, and how the energy and aspirations of young people can be harnessed to make the world a better place, through better and more motivational teaching methods.

A Tale Unfolds aims to improve attainment in literacy through the use of video, and by engaging children and young people in the issues that affect them, now and in the future – such as plastic pollution, obesity, food waste, climate change and mental health.

In this video, entitled Turning schools into hotbeds for global change-reforming education Dominic, who is a former primary teacher, talks about how his methods have improved some children’s progress by 15 months in the space of just four months, and how being a part of the EDUCATE programme helped him to develop a range of resources that were suitable and compatible for use in the national curriculum.

You can view his inspiring and insightful talk here:

EDUCATE programme features in Tech & Learning’s Most Influential EdTech List 2018



Professor Rose Luckin, the Director of Educate and Mursal Hedayat, founder of EDUCATE cohort, Chatterbox, have been named in Tech & Learning’s Most Influential People in EdTech List for 2018.

They are listed among eight women in the line-up for “working in thoughtful and creative ways on the frontlines of some of today’s most pressing issues—from the way we think about learning, AI, and innovation to gun control, refugees, and student privacy.”

Tech & Learning is a US-based resource for education technology leaders working from pre-school to secondary education.

Mursal, who is a refugee to the UK from Afghanistan, and her company Chatterbox, were among the third cohort of participants to the EDUCATE programme admitted in November last year.

Chatterbox offers on-line and in-person language tutoring delivered by trained refugee tutors and seeks to break down barriers to understanding the plight of refugees in the current, often toxic. climate. Mursal told Tech & Learning: “The framework for human rights that gives refugees the same rights we have is an insurance policy for us all. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that we are all one red button away from becoming refugees ourselves.”

Professor Luckin was commended by Tech & Learning for her new book Machine Learning and Human Intelligence: The Nature of Education for the 21st Century and the questions it poses about the role of technology in teaching and learning.

She said she was thrilled to learn of her inclusion in the list, both in recognition of her own work in AI but also “because it acknowledges the vital work that the EDUCATE programme is doing in promoting the importance of EdTech in education.”

Professor Luckin added: “I am absolutely delighted to appear in this list alongside one of our cohorts Chatterbox, led by Mursal Hedayat, who is doing such amazing work in this very important field.”

Tech & Learning’s article can be found here.

Photos from Festival of Learning Day 2

Photos from Festival of Learning Day 1

Success of EDUCATE cohort, My Tutor, highlighted in major report on use of EdTech in narrowing the attainment gap

The work of EDUCATE cohort, MyTutor, has been commended in a key report into the use EdTech to support the learning of disadvantaged children, and how it can bridge the gap in achievement between pupils from different backgrounds.

The study, Beyond gadgets: EdTech to help close the opportunity gap, from the independent think-tank, Reform, examines the need within the English education system to address inequality of opportunity for groups of the population.

It acknowledges the increasing realisation by the UK government of EdTech as a possible source of innovation in this area, and the growing focus on outputs and efficacy, rather than innovations in gadgetry.

MyTutor features as an example of how technology can bridge the gap in opportunity by offering one-to-one on-line tutoring at a cost that is accessible to families, and lower than the fees charged by agencies offering tutoring at home.

My Tutor’s own research has suggested that students receiving online tuition for more than one term make three times greater progress than those who receive none, the study said.

James Burton, Head of Data Science at MyTutor, said: “We believe in the on-going evaluation of our product’s efficacy to high standards of academic rigour. This led us to EDUCATE, world leaders in EdTech research, and to the design and delivery of our 2017 Impact Report.

“This was a landmark report for us. We found that students who received more than a terms worth of online one-to-one tuition improved by +1.7 grades – compared to a control group who hadn’t received MyTutor tutorials, who made 0.5 grades progress.

“Reform approached us for details of how EdTech can help transform outcomes for disadvantaged pupils in schools. The Impact Report enabled us to provide robust evidence for how innovative and scalable solutions such a MyTutor can deliver transformational outcomes at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.

“It is the first of what we hope to be many opportunities to help shape the sector through applied evidence.”

MyTutor was among the recent recipients of an ‘evidence applied EdWard’, presented at a special ceremony during the EDUCATE Showcase at the London Festival of Learning, on June 27.

The company, one of the first cohorts to join the EDUCATE programme when it launched in 2017, has recently attracted new funding which takes its total investment to £10 million in the past three years, and making it one of the highest-funded EdTech ventures in Europe. It plans to use the funding to expand the business, potentially to new clients overseas.

Lord David Puttnam presents the first ‘EdWards’ to successful EDUCATE cohorts, at the London Festival of Learning

Lord David Puttnam presents the first ‘EdWards’ to successful EDUCATE cohorts, at the London Festival of Learning

 Sir David Puttnam, the award-winning film producer, has presented 33 entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs with an ‘EdWard’ in recognition of their successful completion of the pioneering EDUCATE programme.

The ceremony, held as part of the London Festival of Learning, was attended by hundreds of guests and VIPs from the fields of education and technology. The ceremony was co-compered by Lord Jim Knight, the former Schools Minister.

The ‘EdWards’ recipients had to satisfy a range of criteria to achieve recognition, including their awareness and application of evidence-based research to their products and services.

Research underpins the whole premise of the EDUCATE programme, with participants expected to design and develop their products and services using evidence of what works and is effective. They also carry out their own research testing the impact of their work.

In all, the three-year EDUCATE programme has worked with about 100 innovators since its launch a year ago.

Professor Rose Luckin, Director of Learner Centred Design at UCL Knowledge Lab, and the Director of the EDUCATE programme, said: “The London Festival of Learning is the perfect event at which to celebrate the achievements of our cohorts.

“We have been impressed with the level of commitment they have shown both to their own ideas and products, and to the programme as a whole, with which they’ve engaged enthusiastically.

“Our cohorts represent what makes the UK a world leader in EdTech development – innovation, creativity, commitment and enthusiasm – all of which are underpinned with an evidence base of what works and is effective. They are among the very best in their field, and some have already proved themselves to be pioneers both in this country and beyond, having attracted substantial investment to expand and grow their businesses.”

The ‘EdWards’ recipients will be permitted to use a mark on their websites and marketing materials showing they have met the criteria of the programme. Twenty-three recipients received the ‘evidence aware’ mark and nine are in receipt of the ‘evidence applied’ mark.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Lord Puttnam said: “The significant impact of artificial intelligence and technology is already evident in education and in industry more widely. The ‘EdWards’ are a fitting celebration of the some of the best entrepreneurship in EdTech currently taking place in the UK and I am delighted to play a part in the recognition of such innovation.”

Lord Jim Knight added: “For years I’ve been an advocate of the potential of technology to enhance teaching and learning. Too often I’ve been disappointed by results, which is why I am such a fan of EDUCATE. By linking academic research with product innovation, we are most likely to realise the potential and extend the reach of great teaching to more children.”

The ‘EdWards’ ceremony took place in the Arena, in Russell Square during the fifth day of the London Festival of Learning and the second of the three-day EDUCATE Showcase, during which some of the cohorts were exhibiting their products.

The ‘Evidence Aware EdWard’ recipients are:

Altogame,; AttendApp,; Babihub,; Blue Sauce Media,; Bo Clips,; Code Your Future,; Filtered,; Inspiral,; Kinderly,; Lingumi,; Mathigon,; Mathspire,; Morrff,; Museonics,;  My Pocket Skill,; Pakabo,; Primo Toys,; Spaghetti Brain,; Striver,; Tassomai,; Teacherly,; Teachpitch,;  Turinglab,; MyCognition,

The ‘Evidence Applied EdWard’ recipients are:

A Tale Unfolds,; Busuu,; Century Tech,; Debate Mate,; Freeformers,; Little Bridge,; Lyrical Kombat,; My Tutor,



Not so long ago the idea that smart technology could create tailored lessons for individual students was the stuff of science fiction. Now it’s close to reality – and new research about how learners react differently to visual cues can shine a light on where it might lead. Christopher Brooks, who presents his work at the London Festival of Learning this week, explains.

Back in 1995 the American author Neal Stephenson wrote a futuristic novel in which characters were presented with interactive books that could react to their environment and teach their owners what they needed to know to survive and develop.

Twenty years ago, this was science fiction – albeit fiction based on the cutting-edge science of its time. Now that fiction is becoming a reality: the technology is available to tailor course content to each learner individually. Software systems which now seem very familiar are able to rapidly adapt to environmental cues.

So, it’s important that we understand how learners might change their behaviour in response to certain cues – and that we look at how lessons we’ve already learned from more traditional classroom environments might help to inform this process.

For example, we know that women are more likely to sign up for technical subjects when they get subtle messages that the environment is gender-neutral rather than stereotypically male: existing studies tell us that changing a few objects in a classroom, such as a poster or a video game, can make a difference.

And now our new research shows that these types of cues can make a difference in online courses, too, albeit in a different way.

In a study which took place at Stanford a few years back, prospective students were shown into a classroom with various objects that were seen as stereotypically male: Star Wars and Star Trek posters, video game boxes, computer parts, soda cans and junk food. Then they were shown a classroom in which those objects had been replaced by more gender-neutral ones – water bottles, a coffee maker, art and nature pictures, lamps, general magazines and plants.

The researchers found that women participants in their study – who had been asked to imagine they were in their first job and had to choose which team to join – were significantly more likely to choose the team with the gender-neutral room. Men, meanwhile, were more likely to choose the stereotypically male room.

With massive online courses, or MOOCs, now offering learning opportunities to millions of potential students across the globe, we wanted to know whether this classroom experiment could be translated into this new and different environment.

We were able to make some subtle changes to the videos in an introductory data science MOOC on a platform called Coursera. This course had a large gender imbalance, and the proportion of female learners was only around one in six of the total. The course was huge – almost 100,000 learners had logged in during the first year. Women students were more likely than men to drop out.

Our experiment involved 46,652 students, of whom 9,683 were female. Men and women were placed in two groups, each of a little more than 18,400 men and just under 5,000 women. One group was shown a female course assistant in some of the course lectures and saw male data lab assistants in the background. The other was shown a male lecturer and lab assistants.

We were not able to change the gender of the main instructor, as this would have been too expensive. Yet there were significant differences between the two groups. Female students who were shown videos featuring more women engaged significantly more with their course materials – when we measured the number of items on which they clicked, women generated an average of 37.6 more clicks – raising their average clicks by 8.5 per cent from 480 to 517. For women viewing male-dominated course content, the average clicks were much lower – their average dropped to 442 clicks.

And there was a parallel effect for men viewing female course content; albeit a much smaller one.  Their average clicks dropped by 2.3 per cent, from 508 to 496.

Women who saw the feminised content were also likely to post more in online forums relating to the course – though they were all less likely to participate than the men. Those who posted in discussions did so on average 6.28 times if they’d seen the female videos, compared with an average of 4.62 times if they’d seen the male ones.  Again, there was an opposite but smaller effect for men – male posters who saw the female videos posted an average 5.67 times, or 6.31 times if they’d seen the male ones.

While students’ ability to stay the course wasn’t affected by these visual cues, some of their other course activities were.

So, what’s the significance of our work? Clearly it underlines the subtle ways in which we respond to cues that tell us we’re in a non-hostile environment. But it’s bigger than that.

Like Neal Stephenson, we’re now imagining a future in which students receive images tailored to their own characteristics and behaviour. So instead of focusing on producing one great video, course providers could provide a range of options to which different learners could travel.

Stephenson’s vision is becoming reality, and we believe the world of education is well placed to embrace it.

How Gender Cues in Educational Video Impact Participation and Retention is by Christopher Brooks, Joshua Gardner and Kaifeng Chen of the School of Information at the University of Michigan. It is being presented at the London Festival of Learning by Christopher Brooks.


Hundreds of experts in education and technology from the UK and overseas will be descending on UCL’s Institute of Education from tomorrow, for the week-long London Festival of Learning (June 22-30).

For the first time ever, three major academic conferences will be brought under one roof, offering a unique opportunity to share research and practice, and to develop networks of academics working in the field of education technology (EdTech).

The London Festival of Learning will comprise the annual conferences of the ICLS, L@S and AIED attracting 1,200 delegates and academics from around the world, presenting more than 500 research publications.

The Festival is hosted by the pioneering EDUCATE programme, which supports SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs seeking to design and develop their own evidence-based EdTech.

Rose Luckin, Professor of Learner Centred Design at the UCL Knowledge Lab and the Director of EDUCATE, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this prestigious event, during which we will welcome members of the Department for Education’s EdTech team. It is important that we maintain a dialogue with policy-makers about the future direction of EdTech and keep them informed of the many advances taking place constantly in its development.

“The Festival will bring together some of the brightest and most influential brains in artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies to present their work, to network and to share ideas.  This collaboration and cooperation is absolutely crucial to the future success of technology development.

“During the festival the EDUCATE programme will hold a three-day Showcase of its pioneering work with innovators and technologists, offering a chance for visitors to see some of the excellent work they have produced, and which could be used in schools.”

The EDUCATE Showcase will include the inaugural ‘EdWards’ ceremony, recognising the achievements of the cohorts that have completed the EDUCATE programme successfully, and a practitioner track during which school teachers will have a chance to find out about, and discuss, the latest innovations in EdTech and to input ideas into its future development.

The ‘EdWards’ will be presented by Lord David Puttnam, the award-winning film producer and Lord Jim Knight, the former Schools Minister.

Lord Puttnam said: “The significant impact of artificial intelligence and technology is already evident in education and in industry more widely. The ‘EdWards’ are a fitting celebration of the some of the best entrepreneurship in EdTech currently taking place in the UK and I am delighted to play a part in the recognition of such innovation.”

Lord Knight said: “For years I’ve been an advocate of the potential of technology to enhance teaching and learning. Too often I’ve been disappointed by results, which is why I am such a fan of EDUCATE. By linking academic research with product innovation, we are most likely to realise the potential and extend the reach of great teaching to more children.”

Among the keynote speakers at the London Festival of Learning will be: Gever Tulley, Founder of Brightworks and Tinkering School; Tom Mitchell, founder of the world’s first Machine Learning Department at Carnegie Mellon University, Nichole Pinkard, founder of Digital Youth Network and the social learning platform L3 and Professor Simon Buckingham-Schum, director of the Connected Intelligence Centre at Australia’s University of Technology in Sydney.

The full programme for each conference, and the Festival overall, can be found at:

Members of the media are invited to attend the conferences, and the EDUCATE Showcase. To register your interest, and for further information about the London Festival of Learning and the EDUCATE programme, please contact:

Dorothy Lepkowska, EDUCATE Marketing and Communications Officer, on or 07798 614256.

Note to Editors:

1. About EDUCATE

EDUCATE is an ERDF-funded programme that began in January 2017 to support EdTech development, and innovation and entrepreneurship in education through evidence-informed product or service development. Based at UCL Institute of Education, EDUCATE makes research and expertise accessible to enterprises and individuals who want to explore their ideas on how teachers and learners can benefit from the latest scientific advances. It shows them how to use research to inform their ideas, and to demonstrate impact to teachers and learners. Working with our partners we promote and support innovators with research, business and product development training. During the next three years EDUCATE aims to work with 250 start-ups and SMEs, as well as entrepreneurs who work in teaching and research, to create and perfect their concepts. Over time, we plan to expand our work to four new regional centres in locations around the UK. EDUCATE believes that enriching learning through technological innovation is vital if the UK is to maintain its place as a global leader in education.

2. EDUCATE full name

EDUCATE stands for Educational Technology Exchange programme

3. EDUCATE partners

EDUCATE is a partnership between UCL Institute of Education; UCL Engineering; BESA (the British Educational Suppliers Association); Nesta and F6S. It is part-funded through the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund.

4. EDUCATE social media names

Twitter: @EDUCATEldn

5. EDUCATE website

6. About UCL and UCL Institute of Education

Set up in 1826 in the heart of London, UCL was the first English university after Oxford and Cambridge, and pioneered the promotion of inclusivity in higher education. It was the first to welcome students of any religion and the first to admit women on equal terms to men. Today, it is among the world’s top universities in international performance rankings. The UCL Institute of Education (IOE) was founded in 1902 and is a world-leading centre for research and teaching in education and social science. It was ranked first globally in education in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and has been judged by Ofsted as ‘outstanding’ on every criterion for initial teacher training programmes.


Investment in MyTutor grows to £10 million, as company challenges the future of the traditional tutoring industry

The online tutoring platform, MyTutor, has secured new funding taking its total investment to £10 million in the past three years – and making it one of the highest-funded EdTech ventures in Europe.

The company, one of the first cohorts to join the EDUCATE programme when it launched last year, plans to challenge the traditional tutoring industry, claiming it is outdated and expensive. The new money will be used to expand the business, potentially to new clients overseas.

Rose Luckin, Professor of Learner Centred Design and Director of EDUCATE, said “All of us on the EDUCATE team are thrilled to hear about the success of My Tutor. The company was among our first cohorts, and they have gone from strength to strength, and are now competing commercially with the very best in the EdTech sector. It is a testament to their great product and to their hard work and commitment to the programme.”

MyTutor uses more than 7,000 tutors who are high-performing students at leading UK university to offer individual tuition to children and young people at different stages of their education.

It comes at a time when increasing numbers of parents are using the services of private tutors to boost their children’s academic achievements. It is estimated that one in three pupils now receives some form of private tuition.

The tutoring industry is particularly buoyant in London, where parents pay up to £50 an hour for sessions. In contrast, MyTutor fees start at £18 an hour.

Tutors are ranked on five metrics from their interviews and on their personality and tutoring style before being matched with appropriate students on a one-to-one basis. All tutorials are recorded and can be played back later.

Bertie Hubbard, the CEO, said: “Tuition agencies lack scale and cost efficiencies so tend to cluster in areas of concentrated demand, charge extortionate prices, or offer directory-style services that lack transparency and quality control. The whole system needs to be fundamentally rethought if we’re to make high quality support available more broadly.”

The company believes its services and competitive prices level the playing field in different parts of the country where private tuition is scarce or not affordable to families.

The company’s On-line Lesson Space features live video chat alongside an interactive whiteboard, using collaborative tools and with the ability for tutors and students to upload and view files together. Parents can browse and meet tutors for free online before committing to paid lessons.

MyTutor has provide intervention programmes to raise attainment in schools, particularly to disadvantaged children. A study last year showed that students using MyTutor made +1.7 grades progress compared to their peers who hadn’t received tuition (+0.5 grades).

Universities are also engaging MyTutor as a core component of their efforts to widen participation from less economically advantaged school pupils. The company currently partners with over 240 schools and universities in the UK.

Mobeus Equity Partners led the most recent £5 million round, with participation from all MyTutor’s existing high-profile angel investors, including Clive Cowdery (Resolution) and Thomas Hoegh (Arts Alliance) and Stephen Welton (Business Growth Fund).

Hubbard comments: “We’re seeing triple-digit growth in demand for online tuition, versus double digit for offline. There will always be a place for in-person tutoring, but as we’ve seen with e-commerce, health and other sectors, the role of offline will diminish as parents look for greater choice, and are won over by the ease of scheduling, better prices, and the ability to play-back lesson recordings.

“This round of funding puts MyTutor in a position to deliver the new, dynamic model the sector desperately needs.”