Author Archives: Sean Gilligan

About Sean Gilligan

Sean Gilligan is an EdTech Entrepreneur based in the UK. Webanywhere are Official Moodle Partners in the USA, UK and Poland.

Being International

Our senior leadership team at Webanywhere comprises of one American, two Brits and two Pols. Our diversity of cultures and experiences gives us real strengthen and not only do we find ourselves hosting a collection of international staff but also our customer base is becoming increasingly international.

As the geopolitical situation is going against globalisation Webanywhere continues to work in partnership with other countries. Whether it’s global warming, the fight against disease and poverty or world peace it’s better when countries work together.

We need to be outward looking in our approach to business not inward looking. Whether we get a hard or soft Brexit working together as a global economy will always beat shortsighted protectionism.

Leeds Digital Week EdTech Panel at Ward Hadaway

Sean Gilligan, Steven Hope and Tim Mercer EdTech Panel Leeds Digital Week

Sean Gilligan, Steven Hope and Tim Mercer EdTech Panel Leeds Digital Week with Gareth Yates 

Webanywhere were delighted to attend an EdTech panellist event hosted by Ward Hadaway as part of Leeds Digital Week.

After welcome pizza and drinks, Gareth Yates – partner at Ward Hadaway and host for the evening – kicked off the debate focusing on Education Technology in Leeds, the opportunities and challenges in the field and what the future holds.

People joining myself on the panel were:

  • Steven Hope – Technology Enhanced Learning Manager – Leeds City College
  • Tim Mercer – CEO of Vapour-Cloud.

After a short introduction of each panel member and general questions of the panels’ motives for starting in the EdTech business, Gareth opened the floor for general questions.

How do you involve teachers in your development plans?

At Webanywhere we hire ex teachers and gain feedback to influence product roadmaps so products are fit for purpose and useful. We believe in a co-creation to coming up with technology to ensure amazing learning experiences. 

Teacherpreneurs + techies + sales = EdTech business with scale.

How does implementation affect the use of EdTech products/services?

The panel agreed that implementation was of key importance in order that schools gain a return on their investment on software and hardware procurement.

As teachers have varied levels of digital skills, you need to look at the lowest common denominator in terms of teacher training. Non tech savvy teachers do need hand holding if they are to be successful.

There was a general discussion about taking the learning to the student be it on their mobile, playstation and making the learning experience awesome. Digital education in schools needs to catch up with what is out there in the consumer marketplace as quite often our personal computers and apps are more advance than what’s in the classroom.

Tim Mercer highlighted that at the moment, for children who have serious illnesses or can not attend school 1 to 1 teacher, face to face tuition is provided. The panel were incredulous that with all the technology out there, why was this prohibitively expensive method of learning still deployed? Suggestions were made that the use of digital technology would benefit students in this case through the use of lessons via video as a smarter way of engaging distant students.

What is the future of EdTech?

Several key ideas arose from a discussion of the future of EdTech which was thrown out to the panel and audience:

  • Virtual Reality;
  • Conversation as a Platform – Amazon Alexa, Google Home etc;
  • The Internet of Things including the connected home and how this could enable improvements in learning outcomes; and
  • Machine learning and analytics.

Following the final point, JISC’s release of a learning analytics projects was cited. However, LMS analytics for improving learning outcomes and interventions are only useful if the learning platform is used and therefore data can be aggregated for analysis. This means the content and the learning experience has to be highly engaging to ensure there are lots of students logging on.

Who did we chat to?

Among many of the startups present, we got chatting to:

  • Chatta who use audio technology to help children accelerate their language skills.
  • Planet Bofa – an online personalised platform for learning Maths.
  • Jack Cherry – helping kids get through their SATs using Emotional Intelligence

After an interesting evening with full attendance and most of the pizza eaten and beer drunk, it seems that the Leeds Digital Festival and EdTech in West Yorkshire are booming!

 

Africa Trade Delegation visit Webanywhere HQ

Africa Trade Delegation

Africa Trade Delegation Department for International Trade

I was delighted to welcome a delegation of Africa Trade Advisors from the Department of International Trade yesterday. Mark Robson the Regional Director for DIT for Yorkshire and the Humber kindly invited people from Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Gambia and further a field to our City Exchange headquarters in Leeds.

Topics of interested included Education Technology on the African continent and how Africa is quite often ahead of Europe when it comes to the mobile adoption of technology. Many African countries have better wireless internet connections than fix line wired access.

Webanywhere hope to attend a number of EdTech conferences on the African continent in the future. With the population of Nigeria at 173 million and Egypt at 82 million there are big opportunities to drive up education standards in Africa with disruptive digital technology!

As Nelson Mandela says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Looking to Africa post BrExit might not be a bad idea!

Learning Technologies 2017, London

Webanywhere at Learning Technologies 2017

Webanywhere at Learning Technologies 2017

Early in February saw Webanywhere exhibit at London Olympia for Learning Technologies 2017. I have to admit the stand was the best designed yet and I was very proud to see some of the logos displayed of blue chip clients which we have grown over the years.

It was great to take one of our key customer UCLH to dinner and to socialise with the Workplace Learning team. This year we not only  talked about our and platform solutions but also about content services. Our Head of Learning Design Stuart Dyson had flown in from Katowice after missing his plane! Stuart was able to showcase some of the examples of our work and demonstrate our capabilities. Webanywhere now has instructional designers dotted across the globe in Chicago, Leeds and Katowice.

Sean with Gill of UCLH

Sean with Gill of UCLH

Webanywhere decided to offer content services a few years ago. In our experience platforms without content don’t get used. Content which talks to the LMS allows you to leverage big data for the learner, the teacher and the manager. You can then track people’s learning and use this feedback to enhance your online courses.

We now offer content to all our customers and this enhances the learner experience providing value for money on the implementation of your learning management systems.

As they use to say at my first job as youngster starting out content is king! And it most certainly is!

 

Pumpkin Soup

I was lucky enough to be invited to TheBusinessDesk.com quartly dinner at The Mansion House on the edge of Roundhay Park, Leeds.

Alongside discussing the changing fortunes of the economy under Donald Trump and business confidence following BrExit food and entertainment was given by the Dine team.

Daniel Gill set up Dine 18 years ago and they have provided entertainment and event management for lots of businesses, private guests and even the Royal Family.

Transferring Knowledge Across 3 Countries

Interactive Video with Promatum

Interactive Video with Promatum

Facebook, Snapchat and LinkedIn are all capitalising on the video opportunity. So you might ask why? And the simple answer is that during our busy lives videos is one of the means for grabbing people’s attention. Scanning down a timeline and flicking over images and text is less valuable than the pause made to watch a video.

With this in mind over the last 3 months I have filmed and interviewed members of staff across Webanywhere’s 3 international offices in Katowice, Chicago and finally back at HQ in Leeds. Starting with the end in mind the objective was to transfer knowledge. Rather than hiring a professional videographer I decided to buy myself a handheld HD video camera and ask the questions.

Having just returned from Chicago it’s is quite satisfying to realise I had filmed all the key members of staff. Capturing the content is one thing but how you distribute the content and then analyse it is another. That’s where Promatum comes in.

Promatum is a content management system for micro-learning and knowledge transfer, built on open source tools. What makes Promatum interesting is it’s ability to allow users to author and publish interactive content rapidly in your browser, directly on your website. Non technical staff can create highly engaging e-learning which ordinarily would need the intervention of a seasoned instructional designer.

Promatum allows you to creative interactive videos where pop up quiz questions appear at particular points on the timeline. You can even have videos embedded within videos. All the content produced is accessible not just on desktops but also mobile phones. User activity feeds an activity stream allowing you to monitor engagement on the site.

Video is here to stay, not just with social networks. LinkedIn’s acquisition of Lynda.com which was the biggest in EdTech history demonstrates the power of video. By adding a layer of interactivity on top of video, subject matter experts can start creating compelling e-learning content in a cost effective manner driving performance and knowledge transfer across your organisation.

More information on Promatum can be found at:

https://promatum.com