In every school, there is a colossal amount of data. The trouble is most of it is either hidden, static, fragmented or - even worse - all three.
Yet if used properly, it could be transformational. This has been our challenge over the lifetime of our development.
On average, a school will hold three million data records; on students’ attainment, behavior, attendance and on teachers and their rosters. Most schools will track these core metrics in a management information system (MIS), but then schools will also buy other tech and digital resources, such as subject-specific online platforms. These software packages will not be connected to the MIS, so their data systems are then fragmented.
Teachers, faced with workload challenges, time pressures and shrinking budgets, find it near-impossible to piece together the full story of how individual students are progressing or where they could intervene to improve their attainment. Working with data in schools is a deeply frustrating burden.
Building data intelligence for schools
We have built ‘askEDDi’ (Education Data Daily Intelligence) as a data intelligence platform that places the power of data back into the hands of school leaders and more importantly teachers, for the benefit of learners and improving outcomes.
askEDDi consists of products that improve the use of a school’s learning resources and increases student attainment through day to day teaching impact. It supports data driven, evidence-based teaching practices that help class teachers understand and take control of their own learning. It helps teachers discover more about their students learning and how they can personalise teaching for each student. Think of askEDDi as a “Fitbit” for teachers.
We started the business in 2014 and raised initial funding through friends and family. We then raised an early-stage round with a private investor to help us commercialise the technology.
Our other key supporter and partner is Microsoft. The platform is built on their Azure cloud technology and enables us to integrate extremely well with their technology.
Alongside our membership of the Innovate UK/EEN Scaleup Programme, we are also members of a Microsoft programme to help our sales and marketing reach.
From pilot projects to big commercial opportunities
This year is all about translating our pilot projects into bigger commercial opportunities. We are focusing our efforts on multi-academy trusts (MATs) and groups, as once a group of schools start to work together in a cluster, managing their data problems grow exponentially. Our product is seen by MATs and groups as one that can facilitate school improvement, across the whole group of schools and bring consistency to their interpretation of data.
askEDDi has huge potential to transform the education market, as we have cracked the ability to give the most in-depth insight through our Intellectual Property and the use of technology. We can roll it out at scale and provide a radical proposition that can overcome the resistance to change, which is one of our toughest challenges in a traditional marketplace.
Scaling up with the right skills and people
Our challenge as we grow is the need to scale up the company with the right skills and people. This is the bit that keeps me awake at night: are we getting the right people into the company so that it can sustain its true growth potential? It will no doubt be a testing but enjoyable journey.
I think that being on the Scaleup Programme will benefit us in several ways. We need to continue to develop our R&D capacity which will require further funding rounds. Our younger executive team need to develop their management skills and capabilities - their talent needs to be mentored.
With the Programme’s help, we are beginning to build a board which can support me as askEDDi begins to transform the education sector.
Being on the Scaleup Programme will benefit us in several ways. We need to continue to develop our R&D capacity which will require further funding rounds. Our younger executive team need to develop their management skills and capabilities - their talent needs to be mentored.
Brendan Nel, CEO, askEDDi