Smart Company | Our CEO, Alex Burke, talks 12 months growth at EP

We were very excited when Alex, our forever inspiring and never tiring CEO, spoke with Smart Company about EP's journey over the last year. So many learnings and it has been amazing to read what we have all achieved as a team, together.

Read on if you are interested in how a focus on culture and values, agility, customer led product innovation and embracing a changing, uncertain landscape, have led EP to the where it is today.


Since Alex Burke took the reins at Education Perfect 12 months ago, it has expanded into 42 new countries: Here’s how he did it.

In March this year, I was just shy of completing my first year as CEO at edtech company Education Perfect, and the first lockdowns started rolling out in China. It wasn’t long before this was a global pandemic, requiring school lockdowns across the world.

As a parent and an edtech practitioner, the past few months have been an intense learning experience for me, capping off an intensive immersion into the industry.

While the business was started some 12 years ago by two New Zealand brothers, the platform has come a long way since then, and is now used for online learning and assessments by more than 1.2 million students around the world, up from 650,000 only 12 months earlier.

Schools using the platform has also risen dramatically, from 1,600 in May 2019, to 2,600 a year later.

We went from a reach of 17 countries to 58 in that same year, and saw our staff numbers go from 125 to 166.

Our offices around the globe rose from one to eight.

There is nothing quite like a baptism by fire to see how your technology and team functions when demand unexpectedly skyrockets.

There were steps we took to achieve this success, which are reflected in the three recommendations I’d offer any CEO looking to achieve a similar level of success, no matter what industry they work in.

1. Focus on culture and ensure there’s a documented mission and set of values

The business lacked a clear company mission and set of values committed to paper when I started. This was a big gap.

Considering so many business activities and people behaviours are based on a mission and values, I devoted a lot of time to make sure we got this right.

I started by asking the team how they felt about the business and the platform, as I wanted to determine what had contributed to the business’ growth up until that point.

What was the ‘special sauce’? What values were important to them? Which ones were important to our customers?

We then had a foundation on which to refresh the broader workplace culture.

We initiated a survey to get individual perspectives, and then crafted what we felt was ‘the EP way’. In short, it’s a set of values to underpin everything we do.

We rebranded with a clean, modern, contemporary logo with global appeal and a new colour palette. The positive impact of this has been felt from customers as well as our employees.

I moved our 100-strong Dunedin team in New Zealand to a larger, open-plan office. Being co-located enabled relationship-building to happen quickly and for innovation to begin to flourish.

I also hired a dedicated team for the international side of the business, which was rapidly growing.

So, with a significant portion of our teams located in other offices or wholly remote, we also focused on how we communicated using digital channels and tools.

We established a weekly communications program, focused on building and maintaining our culture, and sharing expertise from across the company.

We made our monthly team communications simpler, more regular, and more transparent. They’re a mix of business and celebrating the team’s work. I am especially enjoying using video to communicate and connect with our global teams.

Investing in our people is key for me, and I have always found that promoting from within is an excellent way to create mutual value for an employee and the company, ultimately creating positive customer experiences.

I worked with my leadership team and an external trainer to create a leadership course. This is not just for the executive team, but something we offer to all our people. We believe that all our employees are leaders or leaders-in-training in some way.

As a big believer in wellbeing, I introduced a weekly, company-funded fitness session, and upped the quality and healthiness of the refreshments at our offices.

I also introduced an annual allowance for each employee to spend on something that makes them happy and contributes to their wellbeing.

So far, it’s being used for activities such as art supplies, yoga, book subscriptions, massages, and even activewear for the company’s weekly bootcamps.

The changes enabled us to connect with our employees by showing them we were interested in their input, and that the input could make an impact on the organisation as a whole, moving forward.

By focusing on bolstering company culture, we were able to build from within, and establish foundations for success.

2. Enable agility so your team can respond to change and pursue growth opportunities

I had been CEO for less than a year when, in early-February, COVID-19 struck the Chinese market, before disrupting school education and closing schools across the world.

With the technology and process changes we have consistently made on the platform, we were able to respond efficiently and effectively to the rapidly changing circumstances.

Companies like us — that had developed solid strategies around people, technology and processes — were able to better support their customers and, from a business perspective, take full advantage of the situation, unlike less agile-thinking companies.

Most of our users had been using the edtech platform to augment their classroom learning, enabling teachers to manage their classroom workloads and curriculum, and provide a way for their students to undertake assessments that collected smart data insights.

We had always known it was a platform that could be used exclusively for remote learning situations, but we couldn’t imagine how rapidly its use would expand in the event of school shutdowns.

We first offered a free trial to 50 schools in China, until May 1, then opened the offer up to the rest of the world as the pandemic took hold.

After eight weeks, our platform had an additional 500,000 student users.

Our business model is that the platform is free for teachers to use for content, but schools pay for use for each student that uses it.

So, importantly for the future and development of the platform, we have been able to convert a significant percentage of trial users to paying customers.

With rolling school closures still taking place, we are solving a key problem for schools.

Plus, the uncertainty that we are living in has strengthened the team’s ‘resilience muscle’ as they practise the agility skills.

3. Customer feedback is gold if you feed it back into your product

An interesting consequence of exponential user growth over a short period of time is the exponential growth of user feedback and customer service queries that you can turn into insights.

We saw positives, but more importantly, our product and process pinch-points were exposed.

From a product management perspective, we had customer feedback loops that already helped us make decisions on features or the product overall.

With the increase in users, we could quickly ascertain when a pinch-point was affecting only a small number of people, where we may decide not to make any changes, or if it was significant enough to require refinement or a pivot.

Our product and development teams already had this built into their build-measure-learn process, but they had never had so many new data points to consider. It was exciting for the teams and created renewed momentum to refine the product and its features.

While the user data was analysed and contributed to decisions, qualitative feedback from customer service and customer success teams played an important part of the feedback loop. Having experienced product and technology teams that can bring together both quantitative and qualitative feedback is essential.

Being aware of our strengths and pinch-points enabled us to adapt and learn. And gaining insights from our own people has expanded our options for effective product development.

Reflecting on a year as CEO

When coming into any new leadership role, it’s important to carefully balance the introduction of new ways of thinking and working with those that have existed before.

Come in too quickly with too much change and your first year will likely be very rocky.

For a new CEO, there is even more pressure, as you don’t just have to lead an area of the business, you are there to uplift the entire company.

The culture you cultivate and the foundations on which you build the business and product are often not given the importance they deserve.

Get this right early in your first year so you can be the lead evangelist for your people.

This will allow the business to be able to respond to change with velocity.

In your first two weeks, set a target of speaking with customers and, if possible, visit them in their own environment so you can better understand how people engage with your product.

In your first year, you should have undertaken dozens of customer visits in person or online, as it is truly one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a business and allow you to make effective decisions.

There are many activities a CEO must focus on, but concentrating on business foundations of mission, value and culture, along with enabling agility and customer feedback loops, is a sure way to have a successful first year.

More inspiring articles on Smart Company here.


International Literacy Day | Jimmy talks literacy today

To celebrate International Literacy Day today, September 8, our Global Head of English, James Bowens, explores the challenges to literacy in 2020 and suggests some collective efforts we can all do.

Literacy, along with numeracy, creativity, critical thinking and communication skills are vital aspects of education and must be continuously fostered, facilitated and treated as core elements of everyone’s education.

You can read Jimmy's piece on The State of Literacy on LinkedIn here or below.

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The State of Literacy

International Literacy Day is upon us once again and with it the annual outrage regarding falling literacy rates of some group or another. As usual, standardised testing comes under scrutiny and literacy rate comparisons are pushed around in the media.

Literacy, along with numeracy, creativity, critical thinking and communication skills are vital aspects of education and must be continuously fostered, facilitated and treated as core elements of everyone’s education.

What does literacy even mean?

Depending on what source we consult, we can answer this question in a variety of ways.

The definition of the word is not consistent across dictionaries. If we consult the Cambridge Dictionary we find literacy defined as:

The ability to read and write

If we check Merriam-Webster we find literacy defined as:

The quality or state of being literate 

‘Literate’ is then also defined as:

 ‘Being able to read and write, but also as ‘educated, cultured’ 

This linguistic definition does not suffice in encapsulating how the skills of reading and writing are expressed across the wide range of languages, geographies and demographics of our societies. For that, we need to expand our understanding of the concept of literacy as a way of living and accessing the world around us. This is where things get complicated.

Thankfully, UNESCO has developed an excellent resource to help us understand literacy holistically:

Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society (UNESCO, 2004; 2017).

UNESCO further unpack this definition with three key features:

  • Literacy is about the uses people make of it as a means of communication and expression, through a variety of media
  • Literacy is plural, being practised in particular contexts for particular purposes and using specific languages
  • Literacy involves a continuum of learning measured at different proficiency levels

What is important to recognize here is that literacy as a concept is more complex than just reading and writing proficiency. Unfortunately in the information age reading and writing proficiency are the easiest aspects of literacy to test and measure for hence as a society we often define literacy by these terms.

Reading and writing are fundamental aspects of literacy, but they don’t tell the complete story. To increase awareness of the broader definition of literacy, it may help to consider Dweck's Growth Mindset theory when describing students’ literacy pertaining to results in standardised tests for reading and writing.

Low scores in these tests do not mean the students are not literate or even have low levels of literacy. It means they are still developing their reading and writing proficiencies.

Yes, these scores and trends need to be addressed and have action taken to improve them, but we must also recognize that they represent a narrow snapshot of the overall capabilities of the students.

What are the challenges to literacy in 2020?

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Thankfully, the International Literacy Association has released the findings of their 2020 survey on literacy. The survey comprises reports from 1,443 respondents across 65 countries. 56% of respondents were teachers with 34% of respondents stating their roles as literacy specialists.

This is a great insight into the perceived challenges teachers and students are facing with reading and writing proficiency. One issue which seems pervasive among the respondents is lack of time to focus on independent reading. We might need to increase dialogue and problem solving around how we can further emphasise the positive culture of extended reading.

The amount of internal and external assessments students face requires synthesis of information whereas they develop the intrinsic cognitive skills required to synthesise information through high levels of reading literacy. This requires concurrent writing practice, but perhaps the former is the basis of the latter?

A full reading of the report is advised but there is a clear consensus on some important topics (below) which need to be accepted to form the full literacy picture.

  • Variability of teacher knowledge and effectiveness is one of the greatest barriers to equity in literacy
  • Supporting students with social-emotional or behavioural challenges
  • Engaging families in a child’s literacy development
  • Additional time to collaborate/confer with other teachers facing similar challenges
  • Teaching reading and writing strategies that apply across disciplines
  • Creating a culturally responsive environment
  • Addressing inequity in education and instruction
  • Provide time for in-school independent reading with student-selected texts

What can we do to improve literacy overall?

It is clear not only from the ILA report but also the repeated emphasis on reading and writing skills when defining all that literacy represents. Perhaps a shift in educational culture is required to help raise literacy levels holistically.

We must not assume all teachers are ready-made literacy experts. This is a field of expertise which demands an increase in support and training for all prospective AND current teachers. Teachers need more support.

We must also accept that literacy is subject-agnostic and a strict focus on literacy development should underpin all areas of our curricula. This means that a collaborative emphasis on reading, writing and the application of these skills focused on developing critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration is the key to seeing literacy levels improve across the board. This requires schools to increase internal collaboration around explicit literacy initiatives.

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Finally, we must temper our obsession with standardised test results being yardsticks with which we judge the whole child or indeed our whole country, region or district. If written literacy is decreasing we must encompass that information in the wider context of educational data. What else is increasing? How is modern communication evolving and how does it affect our view of literacy?

Sometimes, it is the methodology that doesn’t fit the student and not the other way around.


August Roundup | EPeeps conferences, competitions, challenges and championships

We love our EP community of educators, teachers, students, parents, learners, partners and everyone else we are lucky to connect with, whilst doing what we love.

Each month, we have so many wonderful activities taking place, we thought we would start a monthly roundup, and wow, it's been an active month at EP!

With the ever-growing to-do’s this time of year brings, we’ve been thinking about a variety of ways to help keep you connected, stimulated, inspired and forever learning, of-course. Following are just some of the activities and collaborations our EPeeps have been up to in August.

  1. EPIC Conferences

EP's Innovate and Collaborate (EPIC) Conferences made an appearance again this year - but with a twist! With the travel restrictions and lockdown regulations in place for many regions, EPICs were hosted digitally for the first time across Australia and New Zealand. Our speakers had a strong focus on placing student well-being front and centre, as well as discussing and developing different strategies for one of the most unprecedented times in teaching. We’re so grateful to have shared the experience with so many teachers, and we promise this won’t be the last you see of our EPIC Conferences. 

Read more here.

  1. EP Studio Competition

Amongst our many student competitions, we think it’s important to give our teachers something fun and engaging to set their minds to! The release of EP Studio, our brand new content authoring tool, empowers teachers to readily create their own lessons from scratch, catering to exactly what their students need. We’re encouraging teachers to try out this very powerful tool and share their lessons with friends and colleagues - no matter where they are in the world.

The competition closes 18th September - there’s still time to showcase your creations and support teachers and students alike!

Read more and enter here.

  1. Student STEALTH Challenge

Our inaugural Student STEALTH Challenge made its debut in August! STEALTH represents the intersection between Science, Technology, English, Maths, Languages, and Humanities.

The STEALTH Challenge encourages students to utilise existing knowledge, as well as enhance their learning and understanding of new areas, and promotes the powers of teamwork.

The challenge is open until September 25th - it’s absolutely not too late to take part! 

Get involved here.

  1. EP Science Championships 2020

Our annual EP Science Championships have wrapped up for the year, and the results we’ve seen from students and schools this year have astounded us!

The celebration of learning is so dear to us at EP, and the extensive engagement in all areas of Science has been nothing less than an absolute pleasure to be a part of. Of the 161,000 students from 1874 schools across 39 countries, we saw an incredible 22 million questions answered!

Well done to our top three schools - Mission Heights Junior College in Auckland NZ, East Hills Boys High School in NSW Australia, and MacKillop Catholic College, Warnervale in NSW Australia.

 

What’s ahead for September:

We’ve got a number of initiatives coming up across September to help build a more inclusive space for students, strengthen student well-being, and empower students in many areas of their learning. A few activities to watch out for include:

We love feedback, so if there is anything you are interested in, or want to know more about, then let us know.

Have a fantastic September.


2020 EP Science Championships | The Results

The results from this year's World Science Championships are absolutely amazing!

To know that over the course of 7 days over 161,000 students from 39 countries around the world answered so many questions from the Science Content Library shows that this is truly a global event with incredible learning engagement.

Helping students engage with Science in a fun and interactive way helps to develop not only their understanding of the content, but helps them to see that Science is more than just working in a laboratory. We hope that students have enjoyed the week and have learnt some new and amazing scientific facts.

It's going to be exciting to see what results the students can produce in 2021 and whether any of our schools around the world will be able to stop Mission Heights Junior College from achieving the 'three-peat'!!

The Science Champs results

  • 22 million questions answered - up 6.11% on 2019
  • 161,091 students who took part - up 60% on 2019
  • 1874 schools - up 20% on 2019
  • 39 countries across the world - up 21.8% on 2019
  • 1281 from Australia / 478 from New Zealand / 62 from Asia / 23 from Europe / 17 from the Middle East

HUGE congratulations to...

Top School Award - Mission Heights Junior College (NZL) — 304,862 points (536,666 questions answered)

Top Student Award - Jordaan D, All Saints Anglican School (QLD, AUS) — 57,777 points (183,373 questions answered)

The full scoreboard summary includes:

Top 5 countries

  1. Australia, 8,590,315 points
  2. New Zealand, 4,245,559 points
  3. United Arab Emirates, 451,435 points
  4. England, 165,554 points
  5. Malaysia, 31,554 points

Top 5 schools overall

  1. Mission Heights Junior College (NZL) — 304,862 points (536,666 questions answered)
  2. East Hills Boys High School (NSW, AUS) — 210,640 points (350,415 questions answered)
  3. MacKillop Catholic College, Warnervale (NSW, AUS) — 191,385 points (347,324 questions answered)
  4. Emirates International School, Jumeirah (ARE) — 189,502 points (315,191 questions answered)
  5. Katikati College (NZL) — 177,565 points (301,038 questions answered)

Top 5 schools by average score

  1. St Brigid's College (VIC, AUS) — 10,824 points per student
  2. Emirates International School, Jumeirah (ARE) — 2,828 points per student
  3. Clarence High School (TAS, AUS) — 2,476 points per student
  4. GEMS Wellington International School (ARE) — 1,184 points per student
  5. St Mary's Catholic High School, Muhaisnah (ARE) — 1,035 points per student

Top school in each category

  • 1-50 students, Clarence High School (TAS, AUS) — 22,281 points
  • 51-100 students, Emirates International School, Jumeirah (ARE) — 189,502 points
  • 101-250 students, The Anglican School Googong (NSW, AUS) — 47,706 points
  • 251-500 students, Cerdon College (NSW, AUS) — 92,826 points
  • 501-1,000 students, Mission Heights Junior College (NZL) — 304,862 points
  • 1,001-2,500 students, Baulkham Hills High School (NSW, AUS) — 175,952 points
  • 2,501-10,000 students, Haileybury College (VIC, AUS) — 168,188 points
  • 10,001-50,000 students, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Correspondence School) (NZL) — 1,150 points

Top 5 states of Australia

  1. New South Wales, 3,952,820 points
  2. Victoria, 1,837,504 points
  3. Queensland, 1,231,791 points
  4. Western Australia, 1,206,831 points
  5. South Australia, 193,434 points

Top 5 students overall

  1. Jordaan D, All Saints Anglican School (QLD, AUS) — 57,777 points (183,373 questions answered)
  2. Syntyche K, Carmel College (NZL) — 49,200 points (86,541 questions answered)
  3. Zac M, Wesley College, Victoria (VIC, AUS) — 42,000 points (75,223 questions answered)
  4. Luka M, McKinnon Secondary College (VIC, AUS) — 40,000 points (49,958 questions answered)
  5. Anuska B, Mission Heights Junior College (NZL) — 38,838 points (87,644 questions answered)

"EP would also like to thank all teachers who supported their students in taking part in this event and we look forward to receiving any feedback regarding the Championships." Kelly Hollis, Global Head of Science.


Tutors Field | Kelly talks remote learning and science

Recently our Global Head of Science, Kelly Hollis, chatted with Tutors Field about how COVID and remote learning was impacting the science experience and that there are online opportunities to enhance learning. You can read the article below and here.

Remote learning and experiencing science are not incompatible

Whether students are in a permanent remote learning environment, or in a temporary one – such as the rolling school closures from COVID-19 taking place across the world – the science ‘experience’ doesn’t necessarily require co-location of students and teachers. As a result of students not necessarily being on site and able to do collaborative or hands-on engaging activities with teachers and their classmates, Science teachers need to engage with their students in different ways.

Thankfully, there are ample opportunities online.

For one, Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology, National Science Week, takes place each August, providing an opportunity for educators to shine a light on science. Schools use the week’s activities as an opportunity to boost student engagement with Science – many of which have been made available online. It’s the internet which has provided the opportunity to experience science in a different way, as well as in ways that were unavailable before now.

A different, yet familiar experience

When classrooms shift to an online forum, there doesn’t need to be a reduction in the hands-on approach to Science lessons. Without access to much of the ‘traditional’ equipment for Science lessons, students can access online learning platforms and their continually growing libraries of activities to undertake, using materials from around the house. In fact, Science Daily reported the findings of a study of 300 students in Russia, showing they learned just as much in online courses as they did in traditional classroom settings.

As the Global Head of Science for online learning platform Education Perfect (EP), I know that some students struggle to understand certain scientific concepts until there is a practical element. Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Earth & Environmental Science may be (for some students) specific disciplines reserved for a school science laboratory.

The good news for those (temporarily) housebound students is that there are usually tools, equipment and general opportunities to find examples around the house which match all the different elements of Science. They can use items they can find in the kitchen or in their stationery cupboard to engage in hands-on activities at home.

Real world context 

If there’s a positive to be gained from our current circumstances, it’s that they have helped make parts of the Science curriculum easier to understand and more relatable for many students. Learning about the COVID-19 virus naturally fits within biology: how a virus works, how transmission of a disease works, and the role hygiene and social distancing play in reducing transmission.

During the pandemic’s (first) peak, EP created some resources for students to break down viruses and understand how they spread, as well as some facts about the benefits of social distancing. With an increased interest in finding out why things were happening the way they are, these resources ended up being among our most used.

The use of online technology has opened a lot of doors for many students, and is enabling them to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do in the lab; for example, online simulations now allow students to have a virtual experience of an electron microscope, which schools wouldn’t have access to.

Even while the present methods of education have been significantly altered for many students, the experience of learning about Science does not need to change. With a real-life example of how science can impact the world, students have been given an opportunity to experience science in a relatable way.

The advances in online technology allow access to scientific methods and technologies that were once just subjects of science fiction, and with enough ingenuity, using household items can bring laboratory tasks to life at home. The adaptation process can be difficult and time-consuming for many, but technology has allowed us to improve how well students engage with science.

Remote learning may not be the perfect way to teach science, but it does provide opportunities for innovative methods for learning, and represents how technology can be used to bridge students and teachers when circumstances keep them apart.


Competition | Calling for 'Student Voices' on the future of education

We know the vital role the voices of young and emerging writers are playing in our future, that is why, as part of our Student Spotlight September, we have partnered with TBS Next Gen and launched the Student Voices writing competition.

Are you an emerging writer? Do you dream of becoming a journalist? In partnership with Education Perfect, the winner of our Student Voices writing competition will receive editorial mentorship and a monthly column published on The Big Smoke

There is much discussion in the media about the future of education, yet there is an important voice missing – that of the students.

Hearing the thoughts and experiences of those directly impacted by the conversation will undoubtedly improve outcomes.

Launching today, the competition is open to all students around the world, with entrants asked to choose their topic from one of three areas: the role of technology in education; the future of education; or the experience of learning during COVID-19.

Students are being asked to write an article between 600 and 800 words in length, and written in a way that captures both the writer’s voice, and incorporates the key experiences of someone from the current generation of students experiencing education in these unprecedented times.

Student voices a ‘vital part of a diverse landscape’

EP’s CEO Alex Burke said he was delighted to support the competition and was encouraged that platforms such as TBS Next Gen are championing a generation of young and emerging young writers and expanding the reach of their diverse voices in the general public.

“With a media marketplace saturated by the same voices from the same backgrounds, it’s wonderful to see that there is a medium for young and emerging writers to share their talents,” he said.

It is Burke’s belief that platforms like TBS Next Gen are a vital part of a diverse landscape, and provide advice and guidance for emerging writers in a unique way that few other media outlets are capable of, or willing to provide.

“EP is taking the next steps towards the future of education, and we’re proud to be in partnership with a like-minded organisation looking to do the same with opinion, news and written expression.”

TBS Next Gen is a section on The Big Smoke where student voices are heard, and is a platform for those who wish to voice their opinions in non-fiction articles on what is shaping the nation.

CEO of The Big Smoke Alex Tselios said she was thrilled to be partnering with innovators like EP.

“The Big Smoke has always prided itself on showcasing critical thinkers and looking outside the norm to source the wide talent pool from which we draw our writers,” she said.

“EP is widely regarded in the industry as a game-changer, and critically, in the education and tech field, so it’s a natural fit that we should partner on this competition to find, and champion the voices of the future.”

Prizes

The best five submissions will be published on TBS Next Gen with the student authors all receiving an EP gift pack.

The author of the winning article will be offered a monthly feature over a period of six months on TBS Next Gen with mentorship from TBS staff writers.

Submissions are open to students all over the world from Thursday 20 August, and close on Tuesday 15 September, with the winner announced after student voting on Wednesday 30 September.

For more information and Terms and Conditions, visit the competition page.


Science Championships are back | 18 - 25 August

With over 31,000 students participating last year, the EP Science Champs are back and start this Saturday! 

It’s such an awesome way for students worldwide to connect and maximise their science knowledge. And as always, this is a global event and we're committed to making it inclusive - all students can take part for free. Visit https://epforschool.com/en/epws/ to register.

This year’s Science Championships run alongside National Science Week from August 18th to 25th and is a great opportunity to engage with our amazing Science content in a fun and interactive way.

During the week, any question that students answer from our Science Content Library will earn them points on our global scoreboard. As they earn points, students will qualify for a personalised certificate to showcase their participation in the Championships and they will also go into the draw to win some amazing prizes, including going into the running to be our 2020 EP Student Intern.

The Science Champs are for students from Years 7 through to 12 and are free to enter. All teachers need to do is send in the class lists they would like to enter. 

“The goal of EP Science is to help students develop a love of learning about Science. It is amazing that so many students from so many countries around the world take part in the Championships and the fact that they answered over 20 MILLION questions in just 7 days is absolutely phenomenal! It is so inspiring to see that the EP Science and the World Championships are making such an impact on Science education around the world and I'm so excited to see how many questions are answered in 2020.” Kelly Hollis, Global Head of Science at EP.

Last year was an astounding success with:

  • 31 655 students from 1561 schools in 32 countries
  • 20.8M questions answered in 7 days
  • 4083 certificates achieved - 149 of which were Elite level (10K+ points)
  • Top School - Mission Heights Junior College (NZ) - 1.2M questions answered
  • Top Student - Jordaan D, All Saints Anglican School (QLD) - 96.8K questions answered

To take part, simply register https://epforschool.com/en/epws/ 

For all EP World Series events, students are able to earn a certain amount of points, and earn an achievement, from Credit Award: 500 Points to an Elite Award: 10,000 Points. Each achievement comes with a certificate to be organised at a later date.

Learn more about EP World Series events here.


Humanising Technology Will Help Remote Learning

Humanising technology and enabling teachers and students is part of EP's mission. Recently EP contributed to an article on The Big Smoke, talking to the benefits of enhanced technology for teachers and students, especially in current times and the increase of remote learning.

Read more from the article 'Humanising technology will help teachers and students with remote learning' below.

With almost a million students returning to remote education, we have an opportunity to humanise the technology we use and elevate the way we learn.

With 700,000 students across Melbourne having returned to remote learning, we have an entire community doing what they can to adapt to these unusual and uncertain circumstances. The thing that will make adoption easier is if the technology we’re using was more humanised.

Though there were plenty of indicators that significant, extreme measures may be on the horizon, the first lockdown’s actual implementation left many businesses, all schools and our state and federal leaders scrambling. We had to strike a balance between protective measures and minimising disruption.

It was widely accepted at the time, as those in charge were doing the best with what they had, in unusual, never experienced before, circumstances. The second lockdown in Melbourne is different. Parents and educators alike knew there could be a ‘second wave’ and closures that came with it, but as families across Melbourne are now facing another six weeks of remote learning, the question bears repeating: are we doing this the best we can?

Challenges are everywhere

The adjustment process for teachers and students to take on remote learning; doing schoolwork from home with less interaction between teacher and student is a process that requires some time to which everyone needs to become adjusted. Not everyone is comfortable with the situation, and not every family has either the hardware, facilities or the connectivity to excel as they would hope.

Victoria’s Deputy Premier James Merlino has rolled out 48,000 devices and 26,000 dongles to students, with another 1000 devices and 2,500 dongles for the second Victoria lockdown. It’s a good start, but the fact is that it’s not enough.

It’s great to see more computers and dongles being handed out, as it sets the right foundation. But as the past decade of business transformations has shown us, ‘human’ support processes are critical for any new technology roll-out. We have to humanise technology. Teachers need to be empowered to know how to use it, as well as how to adapt their classroom learning needs to support and enable education. Without it, they’re in as new an environment as their students, learning as they go. It’s two steps forward, one step back.

Cases back up the argument

One particular Victorian primary school teacher explained how challenging the current situation has been.

“It doesn’t work,” he said. “There are more ‘traditional’ teachers who have no clue how to put a lesson plan online and have been asking me to put their lessons up for them,” he said.

Given the average age of school teachers (which per the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) is 43, with an average 16 years’ experience for them), this suggests something of a worrying trend.

We are not alone in citing a lack of preparedness, support and training for teachers. Samantha Holt, a Learning Specialist in Science at Melbourne’s Epping Secondary College, told me how crucial it was that teachers have access to professional development that targets technology-based skills and knowledge.

“During remote learning, teachers were thrust into heavy reliance on technology, whether they were ready or not,” she said. “And while many had the opportunity to upskill during this time through online professional development such as webinars or resource help features, this was not the case for all teachers.”

This is a notion to which director of Digital Learning at Haileybury in Victoria, Lauren Sayer, agrees. To her, educational technology is a wonderful area, but without professional learning, it has the risk to become a white elephant.

“Staff, students and parents all benefit when there is the perfect match of training, support and technology,” she says. “We would not give anyone a power tool without basic training and the same should go for technology. Professional learning enables us to get the most out of what technology can bring to student learning and the classroom.”

Technology, but the user-friendly variety 

A recent study, the largest of its kind, conducted in Australia by Pivot Professional Learning, in partnership with EP, uncovered some astounding results which reflect what we are hearing from teachers.

It found that after having a high-quality technology platform for distance teaching, the next – most critical – needs were those which provided support for teachers.

“As we have seen from the research, teachers’ needs go well beyond simply having access to technology devices or platforms,” said Amanda Bickerstaff, CEO at Pivot.

“Teachers want to know how to best use platforms to meet the needs of their students. And while platforms like Education Perfect and others are a great base, teachers need leadership and peer support to be able to use them effectively,” she added.

Given all this, is it time we stop and ask ourselves are we expecting too much from teachers and not sufficiently supporting them? Nobody knows when, or if we will return to what we knew as ‘normal’. The ‘new normal’ is also somewhat enigmatic. Distance learning may be an inevitable, inescapable part of it, so EduTech platforms will inevitably become a key component.

To bridge the gap between the benefits of immeasurable experience from our community of teachers, and the needs these same teachers have to be guided through the learning process of adaptation to the new way of doing things, technology needs to be provided that’s user-friendly, intuitive and meets the needs of the students without putting the skills of the teachers under an unnecessary burden.

Online technology has been a saving grace for many during the current crisis, but without the proper support and humanising approach to its implementation, it is nothing more than a bunch of lights and wires in a box.


Radio | Our CEO chats with 3BA Bigshow host PT | 3BA 102.3 FM

Listen as our CEO, Alex Burke chats to host Paul "PT" Taylor from 3BA The Big Show about education technology and how it can support teachers, students and parents through COVID-19 disruptions.

Listen and read more here.

A Chat With Education Perfect CEO Alex Burke

Prior to the pandemic you may not have heard about the EdTech online platform Education Perfect, but because of COVID-19 and home schooling you may be a bit more familiar with each other. Your kids probably are anyway.

Education Perfect is an online platform designed to make learning fun, engaging and effective. Education Perfect blends engaging content, cutting edge pedagogy and a world-class learning platform to deliver remarkable teaching and learning experiences to 500,000+ students.

To find out more about "EP", 3BA Bigshow host PT spoke with its CEO Alex Burke.

Listen here.


School Kids Pay The Biggest Price In Melbourne Lockdown

On the PR wires; as 700,000 students across Melbourne return to remote learning, education leaders are telling us that there’s one vital flaw in the plan.

The first lockdown, in March, was a shock.

It snuck up on us leaving businesses, schools and politicians scrambling, and it was widely accepted at the time that the people in charge were doing the best with what they had.

The second lockdown in Melbourne is different.

Australian parents knew there could be subsequent rolling closures, but with Victorian families now facing a new six weeks of kids learning from home, it’s time to ask ourselves whether we are going about this in the right way.

Victoria's Deputy Premier James Merlino has rolled out 48,000 devices and 26,000 dongles to students, with another 1000 devices and 2,500 dongles for the second Victoria lockdown.

“It’s not enough,” said Alex Burke, CEO of Education Perfect.

“I think it is fantastic to hear more computers and dongles are being handed out as it sets the right foundation."

“However, as the world has seen with the past decade of business transformations, 'human' support processes are critical for any new technology roll-out,” explained Burke.

“Teachers need constant support in learning how to use technology, as well as how to adapt their classroom learning for digital channels.”

And it’s not just Burke citing a lack of preparation, support and training for teachers.

“Professional development access for teachers that targets technology-based skills and knowledge, is crucial today,” said Samantha Holt, a Learning Specialist in Science at Melbourne’s Epping Secondary College.

“During remote learning teachers were thrust into heavy reliance on technology, whether they were ready or not.

“And while many had the opportunity to upskill during this time through online professional development such as webinars or resource help features, this was not the case for all teachers,” she added.

Director of Digital Learning at Haileybury in Victoria, Lauren Sayer, agrees.

“Educational technology is a wonderful area, but without professional learning it has the risk to be a white elephant,” she said

“Staff, students and parents all benefit when there is the perfect match of training, support and technology.

“We would not give anyone a power tool without basic training and the same should go for technology. Professional learning enables us to all get the most out of what technology can bring to student learning and the classroom,” said Sayer.

Another Victorian primary school teacher explained how challenging the current situation has been.

“It doesn’t work, there are more traditional teachers who have no clue how to put a lesson plan online and have been asking me to put their lessons up for them,” he said.

A recent study, the largest of its kind, conducted in Australia by Pivot Professional Learning, uncovered some astounding results that reflect what we are hearing from teachers.

Taking place over the first lockdown on over 2100 Australian primary and secondary schools, it was found that after having a high quality technology platform for distance teaching, the next most critical needs were support for teachers.

“As we have seen from the research, teachers’ needs go well beyond simply having access to technology devices or platforms,” said Amanda Bickerstaff, CEO at Pivot.

“Teachers want to know how to best use platforms to meet the needs of their students. And while platforms like Education Perfect and others are a great base, teachers need leadership and peer support to be able to use them effectively,” she added.

Given all this, is it time we stop and ask ourselves where we are expecting too much from teachers and not sufficiently supporting them?