We are delighted to announce that Texthelp[Ⓡ] has been selected as a grantee for Nesta’s EdTech Innovation Fund, a fund that will support more effective use of technology in education.
We’ve been selected, along with other fantastic edtech companies, for our innovative use of technology in order to overcome some of the biggest challenges facing schools and colleges today. Through this funding, we will develop and scale our WriQ[Ⓡ] product in order to tackle and reduce teacher workload with a particular focus on automating essay marking.
For many people working in education, technology has not always lived up to its promise of reduced administration, time savings and new opportunities that we've seen in so many other sectors. Instead, a disconnect between the experience of teachers and learners, and the potential of technology has in some cases created new pressures and problems.
The EdTech Innovation Fund is part of a £4.6 million funding program that aims to change this. The program will stimulate industry innovation, support the development of EdTech products, and involve schools and colleges in building the evidence base to ensure that technology lives up to its promise in a real world setting.
Joysy John, Director of Education at Nesta, said yesterday: “To be truly transformational, education technology needs to achieve tangible impact for teachers and students, be informed by robust evidence and be easy to implement.”
This of course makes total sense - think about how we all use technology in our everyday lives. It’s there to make life easier, to help us do things faster and smarter than ever before. One of the challenges for educators is identifying key areas where technology can bring benefits to the classroom, and in understanding that only small changes can lead to big impact.
The TALIS report highlights that teachers spend an average of six to seven hours per week marking. Further anecdotal evidence suggests that at busy times of the year this can increase to 14 or 15 hours. That’s late nights and weekends outside of the classroom. With spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPaG) being an integral part of the National Curriculum since 2014, each piece of assessed work has a focus on considering and marking across these three core areas. It’s slow, time consuming work, but nevertheless important to help build literacy levels and understanding for students.
What if SPaG could be marked automatically? What if within seconds of opening a digital piece of work, it’s marked, highlighted, labeled and graded? With WriQ, that’s now a reality - a simple Google extension that measures SPaG, accuracy, word count and time on task, in an instant. With literacy tools that are used by over 20 millions users worldwide, our expertise has informed the design of WriQ, which also measures vocabulary age and helps teachers to build a clear picture of writing levels.
Taking things beyond the measure of literary accuracy, WriQ also enables teachers to assess contextual elements of written work, with subjectivity removed by providing standardized and custom rubrics or mark schemes. This empowers fair and consistent marking, and paired with the automated functionality, WriQ offers the ability to fully mark a written piece in just a few clicks. Add the ability to type personal feedback, which the student receives instantly in their document, and the entire marking process is complete in just a couple of minutes. It’s fast, efficient and effective, and that’s how marking should be.
Through this funding, we will be able to take WriQ to the next level. We’ll be using it to support developments to improve links with the English curriculum, improve efficacy of WriQ in English pilot schools, and improve the Teacher UI Design through engaging with a teacher advisory board and gathering feedback.
Watch this space for more exciting updates in the weeks and months ahead...
Nesta is an innovation foundation. For Nesta, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. They use their expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society. Nesta has spent over 20 years working out the best ways to make change happen through research and experimenting and applied that to their work in innovation policy, health, education, government innovation and the creative economy and arts. Nesta is based in the UK and supported by a financial endowment. They work with partners around the globe to bring bold ideas to life to change the world for good. www.nesta.org.uk