Any primary school teacher knows how hard it is to get kids to sit still, let alone keep their undivided attention for more than a few minutes at a time. Keeping kids engaged and inspired through textbooks and educational films just doesn’t cut it. In the beginning stages of learning kids want to create, learn, and imagine.
When it comes to creating solutions to support this, teachers are the most experienced and know where the gaps are, with numerous ideas on how to fill them. Both Dion Oxley and Damien Trask are teachers and believe that there is a lot of awful edtech out there that serves no purpose and fails to engage young children. They believe that kids need something light on information, yet flexible so they can change and manipulate information for themselves.
As such, Canberra-based Oxley and Trask recently launched their startup Quizling to fill the edtech gaps and connect school children together around Australia. The platform enables kids to make, take, and share quizzes to connect kids in classrooms all over Australia.
“It’s really collaborative so anyone can create that quiz. As a teacher I could really create a quiz that met the needs of the class that I was teaching but a really powerful part of education was having the kids create it themselves,” explained Oxley.
The Quizling app is aimed at enhancing educational programs on mobile devices, collecting the learning data and analytics from the quizzes, which is then shared with paying subscribers. The app is targeted towards primary school children, teachers, parents, and schools, forming a direct link between students and those interested in engaging them with a fun and educational format.
“For students the quizzes are quick, simple, engaging and informative, and through our subscription model, the institutions can access their quiz data to help build their marketing strategy, raise brand awareness and help hit their remit of engaging learners and the broader community,” Oxley said.
Quizling announced its official launch last week after securing partnership deals with The National Library, The Royal Australian Mint, Inspiring Australia, National Sports Museum, and the National Gallery of Australia.
In addition, the startup has raised $300,000 in seed funding, with investment coming from Capital Angels and Sydney Angels, including co-investment by the Sydney Angels Sidecar Fund. Sydney Angels investor Adrian Bunter has joined the Board of Quizling and said that innovation in education is a strong area of interests for the investors.
“The Quizling platform sits in the growing edtech innovation space, which according to EdSurge, saw over US$1.8 billion invested globally into the sector in 2015. While Australia has been lagging in investment in this space, Sydney Angels’ support for businesses such as Quizling, along with Australia’s new focus on innovation in education, shows positive progress in this area,” said Bunter.
The funding has enabled Quizling to push into other museums and allowed them to focus on building more specific features that will build up their relationships with teachers and classrooms.
However, it’s the push into museums that is powerful. Over five million Australians pass through schools each year with schools visits to museums and educational venues crucial to their learning. Quizling is looking at how to start kids learning in new ways, looking at how they can create, collaborate with a group and how they can collaborate back with the museum.
The app is available on iOS and Android and is free for people to sign up and create an account. Oxley has insisted on using high security elements to ensure children’s privacy, disabling users from uploading images of themselves and using their own name. The creation process of quizzes allows kids to create their own true or false or multiple choices quizzes, fitted with images that kids can take of their environment using the camera on their smartphone or tablet device.
The back end of Quizling is an analytics platform where parents can go and find out how their kid is going in comparison to their peers. Alternatively an education institution like a museum can login and see where they are engaging kids and which quizzes attract the most users.
“A lot of our partners are a national institutions which means they have a national mandate and actually have to, they can’t just be for kids coming to Canberra or kids coming to Melbourne to go to the sports museum, they have to engage kids all across Australia and this is a great way for them to do that, so they can start seeing those analytics on the back end as well,” said Oxley.
Quizling has received a lot of support from the ACT Government, which has been pushing grant programs with Trade Connect and Icon to make a difference for startups working in the innovation and tech space. The focus on education and working with schools has given Quizling access to strategic partners.
“When the national sports museum pushes their quizzes out to all the schools that come visit them, that’s enormous, four million people a year come to the MCG, and the national sports museum is right there,” said Oxley.
“The Mint has 65,000 school kids come through a year, and to have them all being sent quizzes, that’s really important to us and that’s a huge boost in terms of marketing.”
In terms of quiz apps on the market there are hundreds that encourage users to play and make various custom quizzes. There are countless quizzes on Facebook that draw attention through topics like ‘Who is your celebrity look alike,’ and ‘Which Disney character are you.’ As these have become increasingly popular, the same module can also be used to target students and education, which is what Quizling is tapping into. Perhaps the most direct competitor is US company Quizlet, however Oxley doesn’t see it as a place where kids can create high quality games and information sharing.
With Quizling there are Naplan-style quizzes that are obviously more fun and engaging than regular paper tests. Quizling also provides kids with the tools to create their own spelling word tests and research on cultural things like Chinese New Year.
Currently Quizling is looking for more innovation partners from Melbourne and Canberra and is seeking to bring Sydney educational institutes on board. Oxley is already excited to see children engaging in quizzes around Australia, including some regional communities in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
“Some regional communities are really engaging with some of the stuff from the national art gallery and maybe having that first taste of what that is, and that’s really exciting and I think something that in 2016 I’ll keep my eye on. But it definitely has global potential and next year that’s what we’ll start to look towards.”
Image: Dion Oxley and Damien Trask. Source: Supplied