“My idea was to create a system, which helps education be more equal but also includes motivational elements both for students and teachers”

Blanka Szilasi
December 16, 2021

The system #school does not only helps to digitalize classrooms but also provides a new, interactive methodology for teachers while motivating students to actively participate in classes. But how does it work? We askes Tibor Prievara, the founder of #school, former participant of the CEU iLab incubation program.

Feedback from the students from the 21st century

Tibor Prievara has been an English teacher for 22 years and at the same time, he is one of the founders of the start-up called #school. He and his colleagues provide support and advise teachers all around Hungary to become more familiar with digital opportunities in education. The solution is reacting to the challenges of the 21stcentury in education by providing a system with alternative motivation both for teachers and students and by bringing digital tools to the classroom.

Tibor Prievara. Source: hashtag.school

The system lies in a well-elaborated methodology. Before starting the company, Prievara researched the field of digital education for 5 years and used the learned strategies first in his own classes. He asked for feedback from his students and changed the application if it was needed to make classes more effective and interactive at the same time. Because of the formerly described practices, they already had a strong professional conception when they started #school, which also fits the Hungarian national curriculum, so every teacher can use it in Hungary.

How to become a successful start-up?

Prievara told the story of how the idea of applying to CEU  InnovationsLab – which provides mentoring and workshops for high impact start-up teams – came to them. “My co-partner, whit whom we started #school is a CEU alumnus, and here commended to us to participate in the iLab program at one point. At the point where we were in 2016, we needed an incubator, which could give us the skills and the help, that we did not have yet. I am an English teacher, nobody ever thought me how to run a company with 8-10 co-workers to everything work well. This includes bookkeeping, motivating the workers, negotiating with corporate investors, etc.”. This was the moment when they first received serious feedback on their idea, which was absolutely positive. At CEU iLab, they received mentoring advice and found themselves in a professional environment, where they could bring their new ideas. Moreover, they met colleagues from other inspiring start-ups, experts and advertisers working in different fields of businesses.

How difficult is it to use? Why is it different?

#school has made recently a survey about their application and website. “What was surprising for us, is that we thought that if our system does not stick within one’s tools it is because it is technologically difficult to use. And then we started the research and it turned out to be wrong. We managed to innovate the website in away that one needs to be a computer alphabet to not be able to use it, one doesn’t even have to be good at reading as well to be able to use the website.”– said Prievara While researching, it turned out that their main audience are teachers in their 40s. Prievara said that it is mainly “because of the professional innovations. If you look at our system, it is also continuing education for teachers. Let me give you an easy example, our system builds up the evaluation of the students from zero to the top. By using the bottom-top approach, the teacher needs to rethink his or her teaching method. And as we see, the teachers who are happy to change are the ones, who are not freshly out from university and are not yet close to retiring, but in between.”

One of the most important innovations in #school is not just that it supports the usage of digital tools in the classroom but that it builds on individual knowledge. The application can track how much the students develop during their study period. It concentrates on building knowledge from the bottom. Instead of requiring only the facts from the curriculum, it also takes the individual child into account. This does not mean that there are no expectations from the students to concentrate and work on class, but it makes the class more interesting and more equalitarian to children who perform weaker in school than some of their classmates. It grabs the student’s attention while individualizing education.

Digital education by Marvin Mayer on Unsplash

Social engagement –E-tanoda

Prievara also works on other projects. He is the innovator of the project called E-tanoda (means E-school), which offers a teaching methodology for online tutoring programs. Their main users are NGOs working with children with disadvantaged backgrounds. In this project, they provide the know-how to the NGOs and their volunteers about the basis of tutoring children online with the help of the materials found on #school. E-tanoda also provides volunteering opportunities for high-school students, who need to do 50hours of community work before their high school graduation. In this way, children can also help each other with schoolwork.

Startup Safari Giveaway!
If you want to get even more immersed in the Hungarian startup ecosystem, visit this year's Startup Safari on 28 and 29 April. And the extra good news is that thanks the cooperation between CEU iLAB and Startup Safari, you can now win a ticket to the two-day startup must-see.
All you have to do is send an email to ilab@ceu.edu telling us where you found the 'Startup Safari Giveaway' post (practically an email with the link to this page) and if you're one of the first 10 people to find it, we'll send you the details for your free ticket. Good luck!

Gamification – a new evaluation system

One of the most exciting plans of #school is to make their company international. They want to be available for teachers abroad too because they do believe that the future of education involves the digitalization of classes at a certain level. They plan to take their evaluation platform – Gamification – abroad. Gamification is an evaluations system that has three audience groups, students, teachers, and parents. The goal of gamification is to make students more interested in their grading, teachers focus more on the individual strength of the students and parents to be more aware of what is going on which their children in the school. Gamification happens on three levels. The first level is the bottom-top approach of the evaluation. This means that all children collect points within a study period (for example a month), so teachers do not count down from 100%but they build up the student’s grade. The second level is an interactive city-building project. By collecting points, the students together with their classmates can build houses and later a civilization. The goal is to create a society in which everyone is equal, and the values of the society are based on knowledge. The third level of gamification is evaluating the soft skills of the children, such as creativity or presentation skills, by collecting skills in the different classes, children and their parents can receive positive feedback on the kids’ schoolwork and map the individual kids’ strengths.

21st Century education: use smartphones, but wisely

#school is a pretty clear example of how the future of education could look like. Digital tools such as smartphones and notebooks are in some schools already used in the classrooms, while other schools still try to forget about the existence of these tools during classes.  #school provides a well-built, logical and useful system, in which digital tools are used cleverly in education. It requires the usage of smart tools from students when it is useful and necessary, but it does not place phones in the center of education. The application not only helps teachers make their lessons more feasible to children growing up in the 21st century but allows them to challenge themselves and gain new and relevant teaching methods. It also helps to include parents in school life by showing them which skills the pupils develop in school. And most importantly, it gives on-hand knowledge to all teachers with easy access to their modern methods.

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