How Can We Use Digital Technologies To Enhance Learning

For many education seems to be a very traditional sector dominated by government authorities and traditional educational institutions and a sector with few opportunities for entrepreneurs. Although this may be partially true, this sector can provide some very interesting opportunities for business since all aspects of our life – work, social interactions etc. are now being more and more digitized. 

Ascendia Design

The traditional educational curriculum is also following the digital trend. This is something that everyone is now aware of. However, when I started Ascendia Design back in 2007, it was not yet a pronounced trend neither in my home country Romania, nor in other parts of the world. 

The idea I had always in mind was simple: Why not use technology to augment the learning experience? Of course a biology lesson would be more interesting at a Zoo, but the second next best thing is to at least to see some 3D interactive models of the animals, relevant movies and explanations, not to mention an elearning game. And this idea evolved.

I look now at the trends worldwide: Parents buy tablets and other mobile devices for their children or give access to the kids to mostly play games for fun. But why not use the same technologies to make educational games – still fun, but mixed with actual learning? This is how our first product series EduTeca for pre-school kids was launched and now we have more than 14 products for preschoolers. Search Noe’s Arch by Ascendia and you’ll get  the idea.

eLearning content for kids is a fast developing sector as kids are spending more and more time in front of their tablets and many parents want to make a better use of their kids’ innate capabilities as “digital natives”. At the same, the whole learning process at schools and universities is also undergoing a major paradigm shift. Teachers are no longer the sole suppliers of knowledge, as information is accessible virtually from everywhere. The teacher’s new role is to guide students through all available educational content to relevant and most educative sources, to explain to the kids how and what to learn.

So how to monetize these new education trends? Here are some ideas:

  • Work together with public schools and national education authorities to provide eLearning tools and digitized educational resources. Traditional schools are changing, some of them at a slower pace than others, but this trend is not going to stop and the uptake of electronic content in traditional educational institutions will only grow within the next 5-10 years. Tablets will soon complement traditional textbooks in the classrooms, so optimizing your content to various mobile devices is the way forward.
  • Aside eLearning for children, corporate eLearning is on the rise since big companies have now recognized that using online/digital tools for corporate learning is an efficient way of cutting costs of providing training to their employees.  Instead of traditional face-to-face coaching sessions and distributing printed handouts which are often thrown away soon after the training ends, why not invest in an eLearning course which can be accessed by employees anytime and from anywhere? To create an eLearning experience useful for corporate clients, it is important to make sure that the eContent produced is concise, interactive and user friendly. After producing eContent for a long time, we realized that many learning management systems (LMS) companies were using were too complex to use and were in the end abandoned by many users. So we adjusted our offer accordingly and Ascendia produced a scalable user-friendly LMS, easy to use and with the most important features users and trainers want and we made it our our unique selling proposition for corporate clients.
"Tablets will soon complement traditional textbooks in the classrooms."
“Tablets will soon complement traditional textbooks in the classrooms.”

Advices for the young entrepreneurs

Starting up a new business is not an easy task and most of the things you’ll learn, you’ll probably learn the hard way. Here are few things that I would like to share with all young entrepreneurs, regardless of the sector they are:

  • Diversification is of utmost importance. Never put all your eggs in one basket and never rely on just one product or service, have a plan B. Test the market and adjust the product accordingly. This is a good advice, especially for those who have for their business one big contractor to whom they sell whatever they produce. That partner is a good way to start a business, but they’ll ever have problems or for some reason you stop collaborating with them, it shouldn’t mean the end of your business! So diversify.
  • Don’t try to do everything yourself. Have a good team of people with the right skills and expertise at your disposal. I try to delegate as much as possible, but I always get the feeling “I could do it better” than those to whom I delegate. It’s a continuing challenge to find the power to delegate. As a business owner, you should focus on the most important aspects of your business and try to facilitate their functioning, not to actually do the tasks related to those aspects yourself. Probably you can do better some tasks, but you’ll never advance the business to the next level if all the processes and work have you as the central piece. You have a limit of how much you can do.
  • Books and self-education are good, but if you are still at school or university, seek a real entrepreneurship course to learn the tricks of starting your own company in your country. I followed a management and economics simulation programme run by international educational NGO Junior Achievement – Young Enterprise Europe, which helped me understand many of the practical aspects of launching and running a company. You should know how to prepare a business plan, how to do revenue and expense forecasts, how to make a marketing and a sales strategy etc. Such courses will help better support your business and will connect you to the network of like-minded (future) entrepreneurs. It is crucial to have this kind of knowledge and relations to maintain your motivation and spirit when things don’t go well (and rest assured, it will certainly happen!).
  • When hiring, search for smarter people than yourself. At least better in some domains. If you can bring them in your business, it’s a great win. The entrepreneurs in general are good professionals in one field of study. As a direct consequence, they can find good professionals, as themselves, and they tend to search for that kind of people. The challenge is in how to find and identify professionals in fields complementary to your knowledge, people you definitely need for your business. 

And last, but not least, if you want to start or develop a business, you need people you trust. Look around you. I know it is not advisable to bring family into the business, but if you can do it right, there will be many benefits. In Ascendia I have as peers my wife and my brother and even if sometimes the road is bumpy, there are many plusses in having them besides me. So, give it a thought at least.

And : ) as words of wisdom: When you think things can’t get worse, you should know that they actually can. The only thing to do then is to remember that before the biggest success, in general you’ll encounter the most serious challenges.

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