London-based edtech startup Zzish is on a mission to unlock the potential of apps for learning, by making it easier to first create educational apps and then use them properly in the classroom.
The company is building an app creation platform, which takes care of some of the heavy lifting when developing learning apps, and a central dashboard for teachers that enables them to track the use of educational apps by their students, specifically relating to student performance and the ability to identify ‘learning gaps’.
“We’re solving two problems for two related audiences. On the one side education app developers creating apps for the classroom and on the other side teachers using those apps in the classroom,” explains Zzish co-founder and CEO Charles Wiles, who was previously a product manager at Google.
“We let developers plug into a multi-million dollar backend to add education specific features in hours that would take them many months, if not years, to implement themselves. Our goal it to make it possible for anyone to create state-of-the-art education applications that have a real impact on learning”.
The second aspect of Zzish’s offering is the teacher dashboard, although the startup hopes teachers or “teacherpreneurs” (yes, really) will develop learning apps too. It enables student learning to be tracked across multiple apps that tap into the platform. The key here is the ability to collect and view learning data that can augment classroom practice all in one place.
“On the other side, teachers are finding it harder and harder to identify engaging applications for use in the classroom that also have a real impact on learning. A key failing of many education apps created by smaller developers is that they don’t collect data on student performance or provide teachers with a dashboard showing student performance,” says Wiles.
This lack of learning data, easily viewable from a central place, is even missing in some of the better funded and more successful educational apps, which tend to only offer rudimentary insight. “We give teachers a single dashboard that is consistent across any app that plugs into it and any app can do so in a couple of hours. Moreover our dashboards focus on giving teachers instant, simple, actionable insight,” he explains.
This includes the ability to identify each student’s strengths, weaknesses and learning gaps in real-time so that teachers can personalise their teaching for each student, as you’d expect.
The end result is that Zzish has created something Wiles claims is an entirely new class of product for teachers. “A product that turns simple education apps into valuable classroom teaching tools,” he says.
To prove the concept, Zzish has created its own learning app, Quizalize, which plugs into the platform and enables teachers to create their own quizzes and track their students’ results. To date, 25,000 teachers from more than 100 countries have signed up to the app.
All of which hasn’t gone entirely unnoticed by investors. The U.K. startup and Techstars London accelerator graduate is announcing it has raised a further £700,000 in funding, bringing total raised to £1.5 million. Backers include edtech VC Leaf Investments, and Neil Hutchinson, angel investor and founder of the Forward Internet Group.