GUEST BLOG – What’s the ‘secret sauce’ of the UCL EDUCATE programme? Murray Morrison, creator of Tassomai explains

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We have been delighted to hear the buzz around our new feature development at Tassomai: targeted teaching videos for students that tailor to their specific needs – a personalised revision tutor available to any student in the country. We have evidence that these videos have an immediate impact on attainment and, more importantly, a significant impact on students’ knowledge retention. Now, hundreds of schools around the country are making plans to build Tassomai into their curriculum next year.

A rock-solid, impactful EdTech product offering with product-market fit that provides a return on investment to a bootstrapped start-up… too good to be true? That’s the secret sauce of the UCL EDUCATE project.

Built at UCL’s Knowledge Lab by Professor Rose Luckin and a team of experts from the Institute of Education, EDUCATE is sought to bringing together the worlds of education, research and EdTech for their mutual benefit.

By helping entrepreneurs collect evidence to inform their product developments and communicate the benefits of their tech with confidence, the team at EDUCATE are changing the landscape of British EdTech. There’s a worry that some in the EdTech world use the education system to promote spurious technology. UCL EDUCATE is helping companies like ours whose technology supports a bold education vision: genuine impact for all that can change lives.

For a small company, who cannot afford to make expensive mistakes or focus on the wrong thing for too long,

learning how to build evidence and research into everything we do was paramount.

This is the sort of research support that can help a small team make sensible decisions when planning a product roadmap; that can supply insights from existing literature on what has been proven in the past to work;  can advise on team structure and recruitment to ensure a team has the necessary skills and, most importantly, can help them measure early and measure often the effect that their product is having so that they can iterate and improve it.

But that kind of thing is expensive. The prohibitive cost of research at best gives a huge advantage to the bigger corporations in education publishing, but at worst breeds the risk of charlatanism and undermines educators’ confidence in tech for their students. Which is why the UCL EDUCATE accelerator – free for companies thanks to the funding from ERDF and more – is a game-changer for ethical EdTech, levelling the business development playing field for entrepreneurs just as we try to level the academic playing field for students and teachers.

The benefits to a company like ours who has been through the programme are clear to see – we’re experiencing them now as we launch new products and services and publish our research in journals and in conferences to teachers.

The wider benefits of UCL EDUCATE to our schools, our children and, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, the future jobs market and national economy may well be the legacy that we will all be thanking them for.

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