From LearningLovers.org we have had the opportunity to meet those responsible for the three educational initiatives awarded through their participation in Zinc Shower.
Innovative Educational Initiatives Awards In Zinc Shower
From LearningLovers.org we have had the opportunity to meet those responsible for the 3 innovative educational initiatives awards they received through their participation in Zinc Shower.
1. XTeach: OneBizzGlobal Award
“We take the best of two worlds, the world of corporations and universities, seeking a continuous follow-up (SCORM) and management (LMS), giving advanced courses, and the world of people who freely choose to learn through online content (MOOC).“
“It is a company in which we are dedicated to creating technology to transform the way in which knowledge is transferred in a digital way.
We currently have 2 products:
Xcriba is useful for the creation of all type of contents; eLearning content, courses… any type of knowledge that requires transferring knowledge. It is a software technology that is completely in the cloud.
Xchool is focused on the distribution of knowledge. In Xchool, you have a space to publish all the content previously created with Xcriba; you can send content to your private network or to external clients. We try to give a bit of versatility, so in the end it is the people who choose how they want to transform their knowledge into digital content which someone can later learn with and enjoy.
Although we tried to get a little away from those words, in normal use, it would be an authoring tool and a Learning Management System. The only difference would be that these ones are completely in the cloud and don’t need any software, except for an explorer like Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Mozilla Firefox.”
Presence In Zinc Shower
“We aimed at the Zinc Shower because we were particularly struck that in 2016 they used the word ‘transformation’, as we are trying to transform eLearning, which we could say it is still new for some companies. There is already a traditional way of giving eLearning content, and we believe that we are transforming and adapting ourselves to the new markets, especially to the markets of people who are digital natives, as it is also very simple to use. The offer that Zinc Shower gave us caught our attention. It is the first time that we are in an event of this nature; we found that there was a bit of feeling and we liked being part of this project “.
“Currently, we are entering 100% in the Spanish market and our plan for the future is to start to internationalize a bit and have access to new markets. We do have a couple of customers in Mexico, but we want to grow both in the US and in North America first, and later we believe that the EU and Latin American markets have a lot of potential. We hope to be able to go there, develop more platforms, offer more functionalities, and allow more users to use the platform.”
New Lines Of Business
“There is a line of business of our platform that sometimes we do not exploit to the maximum, although it is interesting: Despite of offering an authoring tool and an LMS, we also give authors the possibility of having their own training environment, their own training platform in the cloud. Now we have a few authors who have published courses and can market through our platform equally.
Just as some companies assemble their own LMS, with us they have found a gap, because there was no one to offer them this service. These people already had a number of followers, or had to invest a lot, make a major economic effort, take a long process to have a platform and sell their courses online. Or, on the other hand, that had to upload their courses or content to a platform like Cursera or Udemy, or these types of platforms where all users have to get completely adapted to their environment.
In exchange for a percentage, what we offer is access to publish your content in our platform, which is completely personalized, with all the use you want to give. That is also an interesting gap and we hope to be able to explore it more and more, find authors and people who already have a ‘fan base’ and want to publish courses, and see in Xchool a possibility.”
For Companies And Authors Of Contents
“We have 2 lines of market:
- For companies, where at the moment most of our clients are medium or large companies, who already have a training department or already invest in training for their talent.
- As a service for authors, as an independent line of business that we are working on. It is true that they must be authors with their market captured to be able to sell, because we are not a market place; we are simply the space for them to create it. It’s a line apart that we’re trying to explore independently.”
“Currently, both platforms are being internationalized; in fact, the Xcriba platform is already working in 18 languages. We have it to create content in English and Spanish, but you can choose up to 18 languages for the whole interface. Thus, someone who works their content in English and works the tool only in English, can later export the course and have a SCORM content that is generated in up to 18 languages.
The other platform, Xchool, we have it both in English and Spanish since June 2016. It is the platform manager, the LMS manager, who decides whether to activate both languages, and then the user can choose and change the language of the environment. Because often, in international companies in particular, there is the need for training offered in both languages; it is the user who ultimately decides.
“In the case of Xcriba, which is the content generator, there is a peculiarity that is not usually present in the author’s tool: It works completely in the cloud. We focus on working collaboratively; that means that the entire team works behind the creation of content. As it is in the corporate world of training, the instructional screenwriter, the final client, and the one responsible for the layouts of content (either a designer and/or a programmer), all of them are in a single environment; all contents can be optimized and the team does not need to have this email exchange that sometimes causes information to be lost and time to be wasted.
Everything is centralized in the cloud, which, a posteriori, allows companies to generate an analysis of which courses are of the highest quality, what kind of content they are adding in their courses… On the other hand, getting to know which users have the highest performance and create faster, why they work better and more, making an analysis of the training paths that the company has, and making a complete analysis of knowledge, that is on the Xcriba side.
In the case of Xchool, we are working on metrics topics. The advantage we have when we link the content created with Xcriba to Xchool is that we, being the creators of the authoring tool and the LMS, can draw a little more related analytics, beyond the typical SCORM that exists in the training world, and we are trying to generate greater performance in the Big Data subject. Well: The more failed questions, the more the analytics that tell us more than the time spent by the user; this type of tells us about the type of content the user has focused on to follow the screens. Not only where the user has clicked, but also on which screens the users are more focused and what kind of content these screens have… analytics of that type.
And then we have a series of statistics that can be generated, filtered, and so on, depending on the groups and on how you have assembled and categorized the structure in your training portal. Now we are working on topics of gamification and preparing an api to be able to lend external services that allow us to work with serious games: On the one hand we are preparing a system of gamification that generates a ranking within the platform, profiles and chats between the classmates of each training classroom. On the other, we are working hard on having an api that allows, when someone is managing a development from outside or a tailored development of a serious game with another type of work that can be hired out, that serious games generate certain scores that can be added to the overall ranking in the training system.
We try to be a bit up to date with the legal part behind and all the changes that are being made. In particular, for example, it happened with the subject of certifications or the diploma that was sent to the students: Before, you simply had to send it via mail and it was sent as an envoy; but now you need a signature, even a digital one. We try to always be a bit in that line and grow a lot with our customers. Sometimes, consultants with whom we usually work know the legislation a lot and they guide us. We like to change and grow together with each of the customers to change the functionalities.
This could be another peculiarity we have that differentiates us: By offering a platform in the cloud, all our users always have the latest version included in the license we work with. When there are updates we usually offer them to our clients; many times we have developed them a little in the line of what the client requests, and then they are offered to other customers to enjoy the constant evolution. This has happened to us on issues of regulatory changes, and we always try to keep abreast of this.”
2. MJH Summer Camp: TechWomen Award
MJH Summer Camp is integration of children and young people in camps and summer courses, through 2 programs:
- Educational Differences for the inclusion of children with intellectual and social disabilities and young people in labor integration.
- CampSpain, for the incorporation of young foreigners in summer programs in Spain.
María Herrera, Founder:
“MJH is a small company. It was recently founded and it develops 2 programs: The one I present in Zinc Shower, the Educational Differences program, is aimed at children with intellectual disabilities. The other is for young foreigners with generalized disorders of development, with an integration program to include them in summer camps.
Educational Differences in essence is an educational and therapeutic team, but not from the health perspective; always from the educational point of view. We know that leisure is a basic human right, just like education and work and health, and that no one can be deprived of it for reasons of disability.
The professional team is committed to the full integration of different children in summer camps through its program. The program consist on developing different therapeutic activities (music therapy, assisted therapy with animals, surfing therapy, theater, and drawing) through professional psychotherapists, like Isabel, who has a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts, and Hugo, who is the founder of the Asturian surf school. Hugo is also specially trained for the development of the activity as a therapy. It is not the surf for these children, it is rather the paddle surf. He develops it in Asturias, in the estuary, so that children do not run any risk, in the long boards, where they can share the activity with other children. It is very fun, but at the same time they develop the psychomotricity, improving it, etc.
In Educational differences, what it is special is the team: They are five people with a job inclusion of a disabled young man. We offered him that opportunity to work as a camp monitor with the support of the rest of the team. The five-person team includes a director or program director; a pedagogue; then two therapists; a student, because we also offer a place in practices through contact with universities, in practices to students of the educational field, pedagogy and psychology too, because the psychology applied to children has much to do with pedagogy in some areas.
Then, that team of five integrates with the children. The group of children would be at least five people and a maximum of ten. It is integrated in different camps. Those camps are specially selected by me, because I want the camp selection to be based on personal knowledge and total trust, not only for the camp management team, but also for the programs I already know. Let’s say they are the most appropriate, so we are sure that the inclusion of our children will be a success.
The Educational Differences team and children are included in these camps, which have been developed for 20, 25, or 30 years, with children without any disability. It is about working within those camps with our children, including them with everybody else. Not only we will work with our children: Many times, we will have to work with the rest of the children to make them understand many things and sometimes even to accept many things.
Also, we want to take advantage of all the activities of each camp. So the initial evaluation that I do to select them is very important: To know that the activities that the camp develops are also adequate and very adaptable and very beneficial,; there are also benefits that increase with the therapeutic activities that we develop.
There is a camp that even develops an English course in which the team of Educational Differences, in the inclusion, aims to adapt it also for our children with disabilities, trying to take the opportunity of each of the camps. Therefore, what we carry with the team is the ability and the professionalism of being able to adapt each of the activities that are developed in each of those camps.
In the camp of Asturias, for example, there is surfing. There is another camp where the selection is in the Pyrenees, in the mountain, so that there are different options.
We, the team, promote the equalization of opportunities. Not only the practice of leisure as an experience, but also what goes beyond mere fun. We want to guarantee the greatest enjoyment and satisfaction of children, but also to go beyond mere amusement. On the other hand, go beyond from the mere solution of summer to the parents: What we care about is the child; the ones who enroll in Educational Differences are looking for an inclusive experience for their children, which goes far beyond a solution for the summer.
We are now directing it to intellectual disability, rather than to motor disability. At this time we hope to grow, and for that we have chosen to attend the Zinc Shower. We are very pleased to have been selected, but right now our goal are children with intellectual disabilities.
In the future, we will have to make an assessment of whether we extend other disabilities and an assessment of the camps, so that they can include our children in the most appropriate way without missing any of the opportunities. So, that inclusion is total. The driving disability, for example, would be inadequate in the Asturias camp.
Our growth is focused on looking for different camps. As I put that goal, that limit, to have personal knowledge and total confidence in the selected camps, it is a meticulous work and that is why we will gradually expand; in reality it is not easy to become what we want. So far, the selection of camps in our program is aimed at mild to moderate intellectual disability, because children must have a developed autonomy (being able to dress themselves, receive orders and execute them with help, so that they can take advantage of the camp with this minimum autonomy achieved).”
Presence In Zinc Shower
“The idea of introducing ourselves to Zinc Shower arose because I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychopedagogy, and I have done different courses of autism spectrum disorder. I am specialized in different therapy activities: Assisted therapy with animals, etc. In one of the various extension courses that I have attended, I got to know about the Rafael del Pino Foundation, and I started to be in touch with them, more through social networks, and then I saw the publication of Zinc Shower.
I get to think: Why? What I am looking for? Among investment companies, business angels, etc., especially those who have some social assistance program, I think that what we are most interested in, rather than receiving help, is to offer more direct help to families; to develop an aid program through a scholarship system, in order to expand the range of families that can access the program. Because, at the end, the program is a little expensive; you have to pay, in addition to each of the camps, the whole team of Educational Differences.
Actually, the most interesting thing I look for in Zinc Shower is some company that may be interested in developing a program of direct assistance to families, a scholarship system, etc. so that they can participate in the program of Educational Differences. I am also interested to point out that, with our Educational Differences program, the profits, after covering all expenses, will be directed to the foundation where the children live. I have contacts with Fundación Prodis, Fundación Garrigou, Fundación Carmen Pardo-Valcarce, etc., and I try to make it possible for families to enroll their children.
My intention is to show that the foundation where the children enroll in each of the programs can benefit too by helping the children’s families, as next year there will be more kids who can access the program. Although we are not an association or a foundation, we do not have an exactly profit spirit with our program of Educational Differences.”
“The future of this project is to get children, inscriptions, and, as equipment is already ready, camps too. Then to get groups created in 2017, expanding the team, and start working and growing, even by being able to make the offer also extended to different disabilities; not limiting ourselves only to the intellectual disability, but to be able to extend it, make new selection of camps…
I have reserved resources in other companies which I fully trust; I also know personally their programs and their directive team, so there could be other camps able to include our children. What happens is that we want our program to be limited to every two weeks helping each of the camps to only accommodate a maximum of ten children. if the ratio is so small and the team has a personalized, individual, dedication, there will be a success. It is not a matter of inscribing the child in the camp and seeing what arises. In some way, we will also have to work with the rest of the children. There are times that for inclusion to be real, the work must be directed more toward the other children. For that we also carry out our therapeutic activities not limited only to our children, who are mainly the target, but also sometimes, if there has been conflict with another child, because that child might have been invited to the class of Music therapy, we need to get the two children to become very friendly, as the child without disability has understood through the activity that their friend is different, but they are going to have a lot of fun and a great time together.
One of the things that can also attract many families is that, in camps where children with disabilities are included, they can also enroll their siblings without special educational needs. They can share together not only the adventure, but the space and the time, which in some way it is also great for the families; because they do not have to look for a special camp for some of them and another camp for the others. In addition, the siblings always help creating bonds between all the participants in the camp.”
3. Learn And Play Atelier School: Award From The EIE (European Institute For Entrepreneurship)
Learn and Play Atelier school is an out-of-school teaching center that revolves language learning and teaching.
Silvia Meruelo, Director:
“To tell you a little about our project, imagine your children in a school where they do not have chairs or tables, where they do not have books and the curriculum with which they are learning is based on play. Well, that’s what we do in Learn and Play.
We opened in 2008, here in Alcalá de Henares (Spain), and we were motivated by the idea that teaching for children was very strict and that they were forced to advance certain knowledge, such as reading at very early ages, and that was creating a very stressful environment, so we looked for a more fun way to teach them: So that they could acquire new knowledge, but in another way.
We came together with different ideas from the educational world; for example, the idea of Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences, neurolinguistic programming ideas about identifying how each individual learns, and also taking into account that children, when they are small, they need movement. So our methodology is based on that: At play and in movement, while we learn the necessary content.”
“What differentiated us in the market eight years ago was that we started with after-school classes where the children came with their parents to class: From six months of age to five years, until they reach first grade of elementary, the children come with their parents to class, and we make the teaching, apart from being fun, also familiar. The children, seeing that their parents make the effort to learn, are more eager to learn and focus.
Well, the methodology worked very well, the children are learning a lot, our students have been growing, and we have been adding classrooms and centers and teachers. And if in 2008 we started as a classroom of 20 students, now we have 2 centers, 6 classrooms, 500 students, and a team of 10 teachers.
We are very happy with the evolution, and above all, very happy with the result that we see in our students, who in sixth grade already have spoken and written levels up to the first level. So they have absolute fluency when answering in English, they can also write well in English without problems, and the results are fantastic.”
“What we propose now is to take a step further in the world of education and start with what we call an Atelier school. What we want with our new Learn and Play Atelier School is to open a center, preferably in Madrid, where we have a nursery school in the morning from one to five years, where we can teach with the following methodology in workshops: That each of them were a workshop where students would learn in a specific way in each:
- A classroom will be dedicated to artistic subjects: Art, where students can dirty the soil, stain, create, and make art.
- We are going to have another atelier that is going to be technological, where students will have tactile computers, digital screens, iPads, robots, computers that they can dismantle and rework once and over again.
- We will have another workshop that will be a psychomotor and sensory space, being able to move…
Among them are 6 different ateliers, where students can have different spaces to be able to learn in a more individualized way.
Our groups, both out-of-school and kindergarten, never exceed ten students, which allows the teacher to give a very specialized teaching, individualized to each student, and well, the Atelier School will be taught in English, Spanish, and French; the idea is to change, to revolutionize the way in which subjects are being taught in nursery schools.
We want the center of Madrid to be the first of a network of Atelier Schools for Spain, and in the long term, we would like this to expand in Latin America. So, well, we have a great project ahead and we are excited.”
Presence In Zinc Shower
“We have been connoisseurs of Zinc Shower for several years. We found a very special atmosphere, unique for startups, to be able to share our creativity, our ideas, but also to help launching new businesses. In 2016 we decided that we were really ready to take this leap and we started to send our idea to Zinc Shower to see what they thought. Initially we had no hope, because we are based on education, and there are very few accelerators in the educational world, but Zinc Shower is also betting on educational projects, and we were lucky that they accepted us.”
“The training is face-to-face because it is for children from one to five years old, and for the students in the extra-school evening activities, it is for students from six years to 106 years, as we say in our advertising. It is face-to-face, and the one and only factor, the exchange with the teacher, I believe is essential to create fluidity.
When you learn a language, you have to learn intonation, gestures, movement… Being able to be in front of a teacher and looking into their eyes helps a lot to advance the student.”
The Market Situation
“There is a lot of competition if you look at language teaching, but what we do is totally different: Nobody offers what we do. I designed our methodology, the Learn and Play Aproach, in 2008. We have been improving it year by year; it is a good thing that we have, that nobody else has, the way we teach, the equipment we have, the know-how we have in teaching…
There are other companies that are dedicated to teaching children and languages, but they do not offer the quality or the methodology that we offer. And also on the subject of extra school activities, the simple fact of being able to come with your children, to have that moment when you ‘have’ to come and play English with your children a few times a day, that is something that is not offered by any other company in Spain. This is what we do.
We are very excited about what we have and what we believe we will be able to offer in the future.”