LaunchPad Insights are designed to raise the thinking of the entire EdTech ecosystem through shared learning. We asked Dr Michael Cejnar to share his experiences and journey founding edQuire, a real-time school learning analytics system that provides teachers with insights into students ICT competencies.
Michael is a cardiologist, electrophysiologist, self taught engineer and EdTech entrepreneur. He developed computerised cardiac stimulators for his own cardiac practice and the entrepreneur within quickly realised there was a market selling them locally and globally. He founded edQuire after becoming a father and realising the importance of engaged on-task computer behaviours in students. The goal of edQuire is to make computers count in education; “they should instruct and not distract”.
Prompted from watching his daughters computer use in 2011, Michael did a little research into the effectiveness of computer use in schools. He was shocked to learn that international trials (PISA, ICILS) showed a correlation (not causation) between daily computer use and poorer educational outcomes. In disbelief, he did a little more digging and found that although Google and Amazon know exactly what students are doing – teachers didn’t. Teachers were missing the data collection that could provide real-time value. In fact, no usage data from classroom computers was being collected by educators anywhere in the world that could objectively discern the educational outcomes of computer use in schools, despite the apparent need for such information.
Inspired to expose and understand the process of computer use in the classroom, not just the outcomes, Michael adapted a computer monitoring software he’d created from a previous product to a school as a “try and see”.
To ensure the idea was viable, Michael presented a product map to the Head of Department of Educational Studies at a Sydney University who validated the concept and the need. However was also advised the product could meet controversy and key challenges – teachers may reject it for fear of being monitored or that schools may be afraid of knowing the “off-task activities” of students etc.
“I truly believed this product was needed if computers were to be used effectively, so it was a matter – if I build it, they will come” says Michael, adding “I did wonder why no one else had done it!”.
Michael quickly found that his intended agile system of building a cheap MVP and trialling and iterating product features would require significant integration with a schools real-time data points such as the timetabling system, active directory, student information systems etc, many of which are complex, not uniform and haphazardly implemented – a huge barrier!
Unable to penetrate an Australian school for first trial, Michael took edQuire to Singapore where it was immediately embraced and the product was developed with their input.
Michael highlights discussions with John Hattie, Professor of Education and Director of Melbourne Education Research Institute Melbourne University whose support for edQuire’s mission provided the biggest validation.
One of the great benefits of edQuire is the real-time classroom colour heat map of student on-task v off-task. This feature empowers teachers by seeing at-a-glance student ICT behaviours without streams of data to interpret. A feature that helped overcome teacher resistance to perceptions of ‘being monitored’.
Despite being implemented in most of Australia’s early adopter schools, edQuire’s real learning analytics is the first to market and new to K12 schools so ensuring customers understand what the product is and is not, is important and has been challenging for the company.
EdQuire is supported by like-minded business partners, advisory board members, and enthusiastic team members sharing a common goal of helping the next generation to make the best use of the internet and computers. We look forward to watching and celebrating this innovative Australian EdTech company and its ability to impact learning outcomes into the future.
Michael Cejnar presented at LaunchPad Insights on 26 March 2019 at Haymarket HQ Sydney.
EdQuire uses learning analytics of laptop use in classrooms to provide teachers with real-time indication of context-based on-taskness, ICT skills and diagnostics of learning processes. Analysis of this data has enabled an understanding of usage patterns of classroom ICT and student’s skill sets, necessary for effective and efficient use of ICT in K12.