Always Learning

Posted by Swooop | about 5 years ago



Narrowly avoiding the most predictable part of the English summer (rain showers), a sidekick of start-uppers - no, I don't know what the collective noun is either - descended on the historic town of Cambridge on a Friday night, with the aim of going from zero to minimum viable product by Sunday afternoon.


Based in Cambridge University's Judge Business School, there was a smorgasbord of flip charts, post-it notes, workrooms and whiteboards for teams to finely hone ideas with the guidance of any impressive array of mentors. The focus was Education Technology and it was probably the most interesting to see which balance of educators, developers, designers and MBA's would produce the most well rounded idea...





It was a pretty tight schedule, but it still left time for seminars, mentoring sessions and plenty of arguing constructive critiscim. As is always the way, it's much more productive to spend five hours on a solid, well-defined idea than it is to spend ten hours on a broad, malleable idea...

Providing sage advice from my years of accrued wisdom, I watched it all distill until things were running at fever pitch (Sunday afternoon!) which thankfully left me a few quiet moments to collect my thoughts before the pitches and judging. Quite how I'd ended up on the panel was a mystery to me as we had quite a collection of judging power.



Not only did we have Peter Phillips, CEO of Cambridge University Press and Ciarán Rooney, CTO of busuu, but also the wonderful Jack Lang, who's remarkable biography would fill a blog post in it's own right. After a very methodical judging process, we all gathered in the 'not intimidating at all' lecture theatre to dish out the results...




The ideas had ranged from the nostalgic (if you're a child of the 80's like me) 'choose your own adventure' reading helper from Team Chameleon (logo of the weekend!) to the extremely ambitious. Here's looking at you Team Ignite - trying to put together a wearable tech, realtime 3d movement analysis and coaching tool for tennis (and more!), no mean feat.

For the judges though, the winner stood out for having a very clear goal and adding value to current teaching methods. "ReadIt" (I think they'll probably change that name in the near future..!) was a reading assistance app that could read back sentences for struggling learners and provide multiple choice questions on the text at the end of a section. Fully adaptable to cater for different reading levels and content readily available (something that had troubled some of the other teams), it left everyone impressed by the team of three. It was no surprise that one team member (Marie) was a teacher working in primary education - very aware of the literacy difficulties!

All the teams had put in a lot of hard work and made loads of good contacts to take in the wider world, half the point of the weekend being to take the entrepreneurial spirit back and not let it fade. All power to them.


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Always Learning