A word from our CEO: How tech can overcome the world’s education problems

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A recent UN Education Agency commissioned report estimated that at least 250 million of the world’s primary school age children are unable to read, write or do basic mathematics at all. The same number of children are also struggling to improve to a functional level, and this is not a problem linked solely to developing countries.

Across the world, we are facing the very real possibility that, in the near future, the generation approaching retirement will be more literate and numerate than the youngest adults.

Shane Circle HeadshotSolving the world’s challenges or the problem of global illiteracy and innumeracy is a huge task but it’s essential if we are to improve the health, wellbeing and life chances of the world’s children.

I would argue that there has never been a better time to be in education. The technology we have available to us now means that the difficulties of the past shouldn’t constrain our future or, more importantly, our children’s future.

I believe that this is achievable and that the answer lies in making learning both accessible and efficient. The opportunities that technology opens up in this regard are just astounding and, in terms of learning, it can be of tremendous assistance.

Mastering skills such as number recognition, automatic recall of times tables or being able to smoothly blend groups of letters to form words takes time. It is therefore vital that children are motivated and engaged sufficiently to persevere.

Technology is a tool to help learning not a replacement. A number of people are of the opinion that technology shouldn’t be used in education. I fundamentally disagree. Technology can be used to improve learning. It is ubiquitous to children’s lives these days and to take it away seems false. You would not go into a hospital and say “I don’t want modern treatment, please give me what worked in the 1940s or ’50s”!

Technology isn’t just an aide to the child it can give so much to the teacher, parent, education system. Technology can help reveal to us how children learn which, in turn, enables us to teach in better ways. We are able to identify the areas of the curriculum that children struggle to grasp.

For example if you go back five years and ask most maths teachers what basic skills children find difficult and they would have flagged division as one of the hardest.

In fact the data from millions of records, in scores of countries, suggests otherwise. Subtraction is the element that children find the most challenging. Once they have mastered that area then others fall more easily into place.

Technology cannot and does not replace the great teacher but it can bring in others into the equation who can be also hugely supportive and motivational to the child.

In my experience technology that opens the door to the child’s support group to take an active role in education will have the biggest impact on learning and help us radically improve life outcomes for millions of children.

Shane Hill is a former teacher and founder of both Skoolbo and Mathletics (3P Learning). Skoolbo is one of the fastest growing reading, maths and languages learning program in the world with offices in 10 countries. Shane, who is a recipient of the Global Corporate Social Responsibility Award for his services to education, lives in Canberra.

This article originally appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald.

Netley Students Make it 2 Million!

Not content with becoming one of the first schools in the UK to join the Skoolbo One Million Club, the hard working students of Netley Primary School have joined Eastern Green Junior School, Barclay Primary School and Ark Oval Primary School in exceeding two million answers on the platform!

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We got in contact to congratulate them but it seemed that something had taken the shine off this fabulous achievement. The students were devastated because their treasured Skoolbo Super Champ trophy had recently sprung a leak. Despite some nifty patching up from teacher Gareth Morris it could not be saved and it seemed that celebration assemblies would never be the same.

These wonderful students have been consistently dedicated to their learning with Skoolbo and feature regularly on the UK and World leaderboards. Of course they also helped us with the launch of last year’s London vs New York Challenge and so we made sure that a shiny new trophy was soon winging its way to Camden. Within days we had received this lovely message and photo from Gareth.

“Thank you for the trophy. I’ve just blown it up and as I walked through school several children almost exploded with excitement at seeing a new trophy!!

I’ve included a picture of Bilal who has been using skoolbo an awful lot as a reward for working so hard in class.

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We are very pleased to have passed the 2 million answer mark on Skoolbo. Since joining Skoolbo, we have noticed that our children are more engaged at home and eager to talk about and share their achievements with their parents. It has helped children to consolidate their school learning through the fun, engaging and exciting platform games. We celebrate the children’s achievements in a weekly assembly. Certificates are given to the proud Top 5, but the inflatable trophy is what everyone wants to get their hands on!!​ “

Congratulations Bilal and congratulations Netley Primary School!

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Netley Primary School is a diverse and inclusive school, exuding a warmth and generosity of spirit that comes from happy children and school community. They cater for 430 children, including in the Woodlands, an outstanding resource base unit for children with Autism.

The school’s primary aim is to encourage every child to be curious, creative and challenged. Staff provide stimulating and meaningful lessons, often working with specialists, entrepreneurs and artists to make learning a rich experience.

Withinfields Primary School Joins the One Million Club!

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Today we take a look at a wonderful school from the Yorkshire and Humber region. Withinfields Primary School recently became a Skoolbo SuperSchool when they collectively answered over one million questions on the platform!

We knew there had to be some very special individual efforts that deserve recognition and so we were delighted to receive this lovely photograph of the marvellous Molly from Year 5.

Molly Broughton

This is what the school had to say about her –

Molly Broughton is a brilliant student! She has taken Skoolbo on board from the first day we’ve introduced it in school and she has been very enthusiastic in using it extensively to improve her Maths skills, Literacy – reading, spelling and comprehension.

Her parents are impressed with the way her skills have improved and are encouraging her to keep on using the platform.

She is our school champion at Skoolbo with an impressive amount of 27,000 answers.

You may recognise this young man as he recently helped his dad (Nick Negoita) deliver a wonderful presentation all about Skoolbo in front of a large audience. You can read all about this in our earlier blog post  Meet Mihai – Our Newest Skoolbo Presenter

Mihai Negoita

Nick has now left the school to take up a new post. A little bird told us that he is busy introducing Skoolbo to his new students meanwhile Mihai remains at Withinfields to carry the Skoolbo flag!

Mihai Negoita, Year 3 has been conquered by Skoolbo even before the launch of Skoolbo UK and he has been very keen in reading all the stories on Zalairos adventures, as he found the game even more interesting after he lived so many adventures with the characters from Bo City and the surroundings. He also helped me present Skoolb platform in a CAS Meeting inn Kirklees back in  December 2015, being an amazing assistant.

He has managed to answer more than 13.000 questions on Skoolbo UK, and his reading skills have been immensely boosted by using the app.

He has also adventured in the Language Dragons section, learning most of the Spanish units…

I think this platform has been the best app/learning platform used in our school since I started working for Withinfields Primary School back in September 2015. It had a tremendous impact in our learning, children relations and behaviour.

It was specially useful in raising confidence levels in using computers and other devices for our EYFS and KS1 pupils.

Finally, I just want to add that we found Skoolbo extremely useful in working with small groups targeting the gaps in their achievement in Literacy and Maths.

Before he left Nick made this fabulous poster to celebrate the great achievement of reaching one million answers!

Withinfields

Congratulations to all the students of Withinfields Primary School. We can’t wait to see what you achieve next!

Withinfields Primary School is a happy and inclusive school where inspiring teaching and learning supports all children in recognising and achieving their potential. They have 6 Core Values which are central to their school community:

  • Friendship
  • Forgiveness
  • Fairness
  • Happiness
  • Trust
  • Respect

Skoolbo is powering up teachers with NEW student reports!

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Great news teachers!

It’s power up time at Skoolbo! We’re delighted to announce the latest addition to our website in the form of Student Reports! The data behind these simple statistics will serve to super-charge your students’ Skoolbo experience, by providing vital information that will allow teachers to prioritise the tasks and topics that matter most.

  • Stats at a glance – View students’ results from the last 7, 14, 30 or 90 days
  • Customised Leaderboards – Check out leaderboards that show the top 5 overall students in your class, the top 5 biggest improvers and also the top 5 classes in your school
  • Class Action – Discover Class Action plan items, which show the topics that students are having most difficulty with, are close to mastering and have mastered
  • Stay on track – Find out which students have and haven’t been learning on Skoolbo during your selected time frame

To find your Student Reports, simply log in to your teacher account and click on the Report tab at the top of the page. That’s it! A wealth of valuable information is now at your fingertips, so go ahead and become a Super Teacher on Skoolbo!

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Skoolbo – improving focus and a sense of personal responsibility!

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rhiannon (on the right) and her sister Niamh from Harris Primary Academy Coleraine Park in North London.
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We were contacted by the sisters’ mum Caroline who has provided us with a valuable parent’s perspective on using Skoolbo in a home environment. Of course we also wanted to find out what the girls thought of Skoolbo. Rhiannon played a very important part in assisting Team GB in last year’s London vs NYC Challenge. Harris Primary Academy finished top of the schools’ leaderboard with over 287,000 answers. You can read all about their victory in our earlier blog ‘Going for Gold!’
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Rhiannon, who was in Year 2 at the time, finished 3rd in the school which was an incredible achievement. Her mum describes her as shy but she is clearly hiding a steely determination as she put in another incredible performance in the recent Skoolbo World Cup Challenge.
Here’s what Caroline had to say:

“Skoolbo gives them an added dimension to learning where it makes it fun and the competitions appeal to their competitiveness and makes them strive to work harder. They set their alarms each morning to do extra Skoolbo before school. They then rush home to return to it once again.  When Niamh (in particular) isn’t in the competitions she likes to brush up on the languages she learnt in her old school which is French and in her after school clubs at Harris she studied Spanish.  I like the way they have become focused and self aware planning and using skills outside the programme to be able to take personal responsibility for doing well and wanting to do well.  I don’t think they could keep up the hours and dedication they put in for the competitions but by having these competitions every now and then it reinforces the learning they do at school so its an added tool for me and they never complain of being bored which is an added bonus for any parent. 

Their father is serving in the Forces. He misses us in the week so the competition is a great way for him to support them from afar and not have the usual response to the enquiry “So what did you do today?” Girls:  ” Erm, Nothing”!
Thank you Skoolbo, Thank you Amanda.”
Can the web browser version of Skoolbo improve the experience of some learners?
You will notice from the photograph that Niamh and Rhiannon are playing the 2D web browser version of Skoolbo. We were interested to know why they preferred to play in this way as although the games are the same and the data syncs whatever version is being played, it is nevertheless usually considered less exciting than the full 3D version.
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The feedback from Caroline was enlightening as she told us that both girls are dedicated to their learning and very self-motivated but find aspects of reading challenging. Whereas many children find the fast animation of the 3D version exciting and motivating, the less colourful and stimulating interface of the browser version can make it easier for some children to concentrate on the tasks. Caroline also provided some insight on how she supports her children with their learning at home.
“Rhiannon is a whizz at spelling verbally but writing and typing she finds it difficult so she calls out the spelling.”
She was also full of praise for the children’s wonderful school and teachers who are clearly doing an amazing job of helping their students fulfil their potential. She gave a special mention to Rhiannon’s teacher, the fantastic Mrs James. We’d like to echo the sentiment and take the opportunity to acknowledge the wonderful schools and teachers who are enabling learners everywhere.
As always we’d love to hear your feedback and stories of how Skoolbo works in your home or school. Please contact us to share your stories.
Email: info@skoolbo.co.uk

Tel: 020 8133 5253