Today, the way we learn differs significantly from the past. Much has changed over a relatively short period of time, and will continue to do so.
Developed education technology, or ed-tech, has been fundamental in altering our learning style. One fascinating part of the field includes educational games, which have received much attention and interest. This year, Slush will welcome several startups that are engaged in developing creative solutions for learning. Meet three of them: Kahoot!, KidED, and Radiant Games.
Kahoot! is a free game-based learning platform where users of any age can create, play, and share learning games about any subject. This Norwegian company already has a million users each day around the world. They are on a mission to make learning something everyone wants to connect with. Kahoot!’s brand is built on behavior, which they explain to be their competitive advantage in this niche. Kahoot! wants to foster a more powerful pedagogical experience by engaging the heart, hand, and mind — not just one or the other. “Everything we do services deeper learning and individual potential. We’re a behavioral company first, a technology company second”, explains Åsmund Furuseth, Vice President and Co-founder of Kahoot!.
Today, Kahoot! addresses the central role of education as one of the great global challenges of our time, along with sustainability and health. The company strongly believes that education has the power to fundamentally transform lives. “It has the power to lift people out of poverty, to eradicate gender imbalances; it has the power to fundamentally improve the quality of life for people’s families and, ultimately, benefit society as a whole”, Furuseth states.
Kahoot! wants to help make learning something everyone can engage in —whether outside or inside classrooms — and make it something people feel passionate about. To achieve this, the company is prepared to challenge old taboos. For instance, Furuseth questions the current sound levels in classrooms, and whether they should sound like a library or foster a more social learning experience. “We never set out to fit within the traditional classroom; we set out to fundamentally disrupt it”, he states.
Kahoot! recently demonstrated some of the interesting possibilities they offer at Oslo Innovation Week, where they remotely controlled the band Klang at the event “Edtech – the Norwegian Classroom” hosted by IKT-Norge.
KidED, an Estonian-based app-developer, believes that the time children waste on smartphones and tablets could be used more effectively. They provide an app for children to learn while playing games, watching videos, or using other apps on a mobile device. The app runs in the background of other activities and pauses the ongoing activity with educating questions.
The content of KidED was developed by scientists and educational psychologists from the University of Tartu in order to create appropriate comprehensibility and appeal for children. The company has other interesting partners as well. “Alongside new investors and advisors, ed-tech group Smile and Learn has come onboard to continuously develop new material as KidED begins its Beta testing phase”, explains Martti Luik, Founder and CEO at KidED. Moreover, they will partner up with CREC to build their offered concept into the KidED platform.
Meanwhile, KidED has a goal to expand to classroom use since technology and tablets are becoming increasingly common in schools. KidED recognizes how its technology could be applied to other age groups as well. “Future steps for KidED could include expanding to create content for adolescents taking standardized tests or the elderly seeking brain training”, Luik says.
The company is excited to be in the vanguard of ed-tech and observe the real-time formation of the field. KidED finds ed-tech fascinating, because it can revolutionize global education and is a focal point for ideas and inventions. “No one exactly knows yet what solution works best for early childhood. It is these possibilities that make working in the ed-tech sector so thrilling”, states Luik.
Radiant Games is a game developer company from Iceland that focuses on sparking the interest of children in the fundamentals of coding. They emphasize that coding will take on the role as the literature of the 21st century and a necessary skill needed in most modern jobs. Therefore, the company wants to raise the interest of children and have them take their first steps into the world of coding as effortlessly as possible. “It should be their right to get an introduction to coding, just like they get an introduction to math, music and sports”, argues Vignir Gudmundsson, CEO of Radiant Games.
Soon, the company will launch their first game called Box Island. The game allows children to apply many of the fundamentals of coding: sequencing, pattern recognition, algorithmic thinking, loops, and conditionals. After a year of non-stop work with the aim of creating the best mobile coding experience possible, Radiant Games is excited to share the game with kids, parents, teachers and schools around the world. “We can’t wait to receive their feedback and build upon it”, Gudmundsson says.
To date, Radiant Games has been fortunate to receive grants back in Iceland in order to keep the current core team up and running. “With the launch of Box Island, we will put our focus to raising a seed round in order to expand and grow faster”, explains Gudmundsson. For the future, the company’s plan is to continue creating playful coding experiences and building on their core knowledge in the field.
Slush is the biggest startup and investor event in Northern Europe, organized on November 11-12th in Helsinki, Finland. 1200 startups have already registered for Slush. Join them and register at slush.org.
For hackers, Ultrahack, part of Slush Hacks is held on 6th through 8th of November in Helsinki, Finland with a long pre-game. Challenge winners can win up to €20,000! Register at ultrahack.org.