Is Teamie the Future of Edtech in Southeast Asia?
4 trends in online learning that look set to continue
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Education used to be simple. Students gather in a classroom, and a teacher comes in to impart his or her knowledge. Books supplement what is provided by the teacher. At the end of the day, the students take tests and submit assignments so the teacher can see whether they have learned their lessons. The following day, they do it all over again. Soon the teacher hands out a final grade.
Even with the advent of technology, this arrangement has continued. According to Shivanu Shukla, co-founder of Singapore-based edtech start-up Teamie, learning platforms developed in the late 1990s and early 2000s had the primary objective of delivering learning content. The resulting systems were still “transactional”: Students downloaded resources, uploaded their assignments and checked their grades online.
Shukla felt, however, that something more must be done in this “information-rich, social media-driven, hyper-connected, mobile-centric world.” As the world changes, so must the format and delivery of education.
Enter Teamie.com. “We learn better when there is an opportunity to discuss, ask questions, share ideas about the learning topic instead of just consuming a video or document alone,” Shukla says. This is the reason Teamie was built into a social and mobile learning platform.
Here’s how it works. Each Teamie customer gets his or her own site. The start-up partners with educational institutions and not individual teachers or students. What is different about the site, he says, is the social and collaborative approach. The cloud model also offers flexibility and payment per use.
Teamie, with 34 staff members in offices in Singapore and India, now has customers in 10 countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Hong Kong, China, Macau, India, Australia, the U.S. and U.K. While Shukla acknowledges that different countries may have different approaches to learning, different phases of tech adoption and learning delivery, he predicts the following trends will help shape the future of education – and edtech companies – in the region and worldwide.
1. Companies will need to talk to their consumers – a lot.
Shukla says about 60 percent of what Teamie builds comes from direct customer feedback. “Many of our customers are pioneers in their own right, spearheading an innovative approach to learning, and they tend to be at the bleeding edges of these changes. In being so, they push us to build a platform that can support the new learning paradigm.”
2. Slow learning will become more popular.
“Learning at one’s own pace has been a trend for a few years now but only now do we have the right mix of technology, devices and network infrastructure to make that possible,” Shukla says.
3. Teachers won’t become obsolete.
“The role of schools and teachers is shifting, yes. But I do not believe we should have a world without teachers at all. I think the role of technology is to take over the mundane and time-consuming tasks for a teacher – grading quizzes, analyzing where students are struggling, or regurgitating the same concepts again and again – and support them with better insights to focus on student learning experiences and outcomes,” Shukla says.
4. There will be a need for lifelong learning.
Higher education and adult learning systems are definitely seeing some popularity as people evaluate and re-evaluate their skills. Flexibility is important in this, especially as people do it at several points in their career.