Getting to know our initiatives: apptEDUde

Summer learning loss. The phenomenon that strikes school children over summer as they swap schoolbooks for swimming and slurpees. It is the educational gap that leads to a drop in academic skills and knowledge over the school holidays. Marko Njavro and his team have created a program called apptEDUde which aims to keep students learning over summer. We caught up with Marko to find out more about the program.

Tell me a little bit about apptEDUde.

apptEDUde is an initiative bringing to market a K-6 educational game which will help children avoid the “summer learning loss” in a fun and engaging way. Our initial focus is on the STEM subjects, given the importance of these skills going forward to both the students and Australia. Our team consists of Dr Branwen Morgan, Brian Powyer, Joel McInnes and myself. We have combined experience in Neuroscience, STEM journalism, education and entrepreneurship. Our technology partner in the venture is 2and2 games.

Why did you decide to create an offering to target ‘Summer Learning Loss’?

While reading the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, we were surprised to learn that in the US, the “Summer Learning Loss” was understood to account for as much as 80% of the difference in achievement for students between low and high-socioeconomic families. In a world full of complex and daunting problems, it seemed that there was something very specific which we could target and potentially have an impact on a large scale. We subsequently investigated the existence of the problem in an Australian context and found that while the same issue exists here, it manifests itself slightly differently – affecting the level of learning in Terms 4 and 1. Our own survey of teachers showed that 90% thought that students forgot content knowledge over the school holidays.

What impact have you seen as a result of launching apptEDUde?

To validate the existence of the problem and our solution for it, we partnered with Wilkins Public School in Marrickville in Sydney. 97 students took part in the pilot (26 in the test group and 71 in the control group). We administered a pre-test for both groups before school holidays and then gave the test group a tablet pre-loaded with our game. The 26 students played the game over holidays (75% completion was required to be counted as valid).

Upon the return to school, we administered the post-test (identical to pre-test). What we found was a statistically significant improvement in the test group across both Science and Maths, controlling for a range of variables in our control. Children and the parents also completed a survey which showed high levels of engagement and satisfaction. All this combined gave us the confidence to proceed with a vastly improved version of the product, utilising the latest advances in neuroscience and evidence based approaches.

What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities around STEM in Australia?

The government and big business are certainly making all the right noises around STEM and its importance to the future of Australia. The question is whether the required pace of change can be actioned through curriculum changes, or whether the private sector will have to come in with solutions which will supplement the official education system. That presents an opportunity for all the initiatives in 21st Century Minds.

What has been the most beneficial aspect of 21st Century Minds so far?

The whole program has been incredible, but I would like to single out our team of mentors for praise.

They have injected a huge deal of enthusiasm, ideas and professionalism. The combined networks of the mentors in our team will be a game-changer for us once we’re ready for them to make the right introductions.

We also caught up with the lead mentor for apptEDUde, PwC Partner, Aaron Le Poidevin to find out what his experience has been like supporting the apptEDUde team.

As a mentor what experience and insight do you provide to the team at apptEDUde?

Having been involved in a number of early stage ventures, it has been great to be able to share those experiences with Marko and the apptEDUde team. Hopefully it has saved them some of the pain they would have otherwise experienced! Being able to leverage the PwC network to make relevant connections has also been an important part of my lead mentor role.

What has been the highlight of your mentoring relationship so far?

The highlight of the mentoring relationship to date has been to see the progression of their minimum viable product and their ability to attract market leaders in their field to their advisory team. This will make them well placed for rapid growth.

Watch the video below for our two minutes with Marko.

Kirstyn Chan is part of PwC Australia’s Corporate Responsibility team and is here to provide you with the latest news from the 21st Century Minds program. Follow her on Twitter @kirstyn_c for updates.

Initiatives gearing up for take off

On the 1st and 2nd of March our 20 initiatives, as well as our accelerator partners and industry collaborators, will be getting together for the first time in Sydney.  In the lead up we asked a few of our initiatives to share a bit about themselves and how they’re feeling about the year ahead.

What three words describe you best?

Optimist, Novocastrian, ESTJMarko Njavro, Apptedude

Learner, Ambitious, DedicatedBec Spink, code the future

“Committed, Open, PragmaticAmanda Caldwell, National Youth Science Forum

“Never gives up” Christian Williams, Make Maths Awesome

“Spirited, Resilient, Determined” Michele Miller, RoboticsWPS

What drives you to do what you do?

Penance for my previous life as a banker 🙂  But seriously, the desire to contribute to creating a true “level playing field” (with respect to disadvantaged socio-economic groups and gender) and to play a role in removing some of the obstacles to upward social mobility.” Marko Njavro, Apptedude

I’m an educator first and always. I live and breath education. I am always learning and am driven to help others (both children and adults) at every stage of their own learning. Every decision I make as part of our team is made with one foot in a classroom.” Bec Spink, code the future

Desire to make a difference, build something that has impact and value from Adelaide. Show the world the quality of Australian education!Jon Soong, Makers Empire

“I’m was lucky enough to live my childhood dream and it was an awesome feeling. I want as many kids as possible to have that same opportunity.” Christian Williams, Make Maths Awesome

There is a lot of pressure on young people to decide on their futures early, but the future is what we make of today. I want young people to be aware that there are career choices and options today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and being well informed about those choices is what will empower them.” Amanda Caldwell, National Youth Science Forum

“Witnessing the growth in confidence, engagement and pure delight in discovery learning which our students display, along with the continued positive support and feedback I receive from our client principals and teachers about our programs.” Michele Miller, RoboticsWPS

What excites you most about being part of the program?

Access to some of the brightest minds and influencers in Australian Education with the backing of one of the world’s leading consultancies. There is still so much left to learn and test and 21CM has enabled us to step out of our small, Sydney based network and has opened up a world of possibilities with respect to trusted advice, mentoring and networking.” Marko Njavro, Apptedude

Connecting with other like-minded people and changing preconceived ideas about coding education in Australian schools.” Bec Spink, code the future

Ability to connect with experts in the education field and meet people who have done this before!” Jon Soong, Makers Empire

The opportunity to increase the NYSF’s network of like-minded people from like-minded organisations, with guidance from people experienced in strategic planning.” Amanda Caldwell, National Youth Science Forum

“To be able to connect with like minded businesses with the same desire to facilitate change in school education programs through STEM, which have an amazing impact on student learning and outcomes.” Michele Miller, RoboticsWPS

“Having the opportunity to change the way we teach in Australia and make our education system the best in the world!” Christian Williams, Make Maths Awesome

Strap on your seatbelts 21CM, we’re getting ready for take off!