EP 172: Making Learning Dynamic, Collaborative, and Fun with Kahoot!

In 2013, a revolution in learning began. At the 3rd annual SXSWedu conference, a small audience was introduced to a way of learning that would eventually sweep the planet. An imaginative and creative platform was born, one that had been designed to allow students a plethora of ways to collaborate, learn, test, and understand concepts across the learning spectrum. This revolution in learning was called Kahoot!

Kahoot! had the potential to be massive from the get go, and has proved that it indeed contains the secret sauce for mass appeal and great success. In 2017, Kahoot reached over 1 billion participants, an incredibly massive milestone in the world of edtech.

Kahoot was founded by Johan Brand, Jamie Brooker, and Morten Versvik. This powerful triumvirate envisioned an online learning space where students could participate in the quiz and test making process. This ingenious spin on standard education has had a tremendous impact on learning standards worldwide. Students use the platform both as a way to refine understanding as well as prepare for in-class evaluations.

On this episode, I interview the CEO of Kahoot!, Asmund Furuseth. He shares with us the amazing journey of Kahoot! from inception to its overwhelming popularity today. He even discusses the exciting future for Kahoot, and most importantly, how it can be used effectively in all schools to further education. To learn more about Kahoot!, go to http://kahoot.com/. To listen to the full podcast episode, click below.


EP 171: Jay Foreman on Teaching through Comedy

Comedy and education don’t often mix, but when they do, it can make for some of the most effective learning. This is what Jay Foreman, a British singer-songwriter, set out to do with his work.

His YouTube channel features most of his songs and videos, which can focus on politics or infrastructure or random songs that he performs for kids. One of his more popular playlists is “Politics Unboringed,” where he explains a variety of topics such as the inner functions of British democracy, how to decide who to vote for in elections, and why in some cases, voting is not necessarily the best choice. “Unfinished London” is another playlist of four videos explaining how London was so poorly planned, from motorways to airports to the Northern line.

Now with over 280,000 subscribers, Jay regularly posts updates to his channel. His videos aim to be both comedic and informative, and this is especially true with his videos aimed at a younger audience. He went on a United Kingdom tour recently to showcase his “Disgusting Songs for Revolting Children.” Some popular songs are more comedic, such as “Caterpillar Sick,” a song that goes into some detail about a car running on just that. The album also features tracks such as “No More Colours?” and “Stealing Food.”

However, he also writes and performs songs not targeted at children. One of his videos, “Singing one Syllable Out-of-Sync,” attracted over four million views, where he did exactly what it sounds like — he sang a single syllable of a song in the wrong place.

Many of his videos cover informative topics, such as tactical voting and the India-Bangladesh border. But even these are presented in a way that’s comedic while still being informative, with Jay and a friend, dubbed the Map Men, explain the geography and politics behind it.

Jay’s career as a comedy singer includes four sold-out shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and various honors at musical comedy awards.

To learn more about Jay, check out his channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/jayforeman51/ and listen to the full podcast interview below.


EP 170: Connecting Students with Tutors via Tutor Ocean

The struggle of finding a competent tutor for their children is one that is all too familiar to parents — sorting through slews of tutor listings that often don’t work out. TutorOcean is a company that aims to make that process easier by providing a network of tutors in every subject imaginable so that students can find a tutor that works to their individual needs.

The company was founded by Will Li, who transitioned from a full time acrobatics academy to a regular school at age 13 with the help of tutoring. His own experience with talented tutors made him pursue a similar career in college, where he realized how difficult it can be to find an effective tutor. This prompted him to found TutorOcean, where students and tutors can connect easily and form meaningful relationships.

TutorOcean offers tutoring appointments both online and in person. The virtual sessions are available on-demand from a pool of experts worldwide, with sessions featuring an interactive whiteboard, video chat, and the ability to record sessions so students can go back and re-learn any content they continue to struggle with. The in-person sessions are set up in advance and allow for easier communication and hands-on practice with any subject matter.

The company has tutors across the globe and from multiple universities, from Calgary to London and everywhere in between. They become tutors by signing up on the website and filling out their education and work experience, at which point the profiles are reviewed by TutorOcean and approved for service. The rates vary for each tutor. These tutors specialize in subjects ranging from accounting to MCAT prep to Chinese, meaning TutorOcean is a service for elementary school kids and medical students alike.

To learn more about TutorOcean, visit their website at www.tutorocean.com and listen to the full podcast interview with Joanna Huang below.


EP 169: Coding Made fun with Emojis

Coding can be viewed as esoteric, confusing, and definitely not for kids. But with Codemoji, this generally accepted view of computer science as complicated and dense is entirely upended. Their goal is to teach kids how to code from as young as first grade to create a properly educated generation armed with a skill set that will only benefit them in an increasingly technological world.

Part of the problem with teaching coding is that there is no room for error; even the slightest syntax mistake such as a comma instead of a semicolon will cause the entire code to malfunction. But Codemoji’s goal is to eliminate that hurdle so that syntax isn’t stopping kids from learning to code.

The curriculum aims to teach students from first to eighth grade the basics of coding in several different languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript. This also includes web development to allow kids to design their own websites and animations using the coding skills that they have learned. The platform is adaptive and challenging, allowing each student to go through lessons at their own pace and only move on once they truly understand the skills they are learning.

By teaching how to code from a young age, students are much more well-equipped to enter a workforce in a world which is largely based on computers. This is especially true when they’re actually learning and absorbing the content, which Codemoji ensures by making their curriculum entertaining with a special focus on applying the concepts creatively.

Enthusiasm is key to comprehension, especially at such a young age and with such a notoriously difficult subject. Codemoji allows kids to “learn, code, and build” creatively from the beginning, developing a love for computer science among the next generation to work in that field.

To learn more about Codemoji, we spoke to co-founder Livio Bolzon. To listen to the interview yourself, check out the podcast below and visit Codemoji’s website at www.codemoji.com


EP 168: Creating a Popular Kids Show with Blippi TV

The character Blippi began in 2014 as the brainchild of Stevin John, who would later go on to play the character himself. He wanted to make early learning more than just dull memorization and repetition and instead associate it with “positive emotions and memories.” And since then, countless young children have been learning shapes, letters, numbers, and colors through Stevin’s show, which features him clad in orange and blue as the lovable Blippi.

The videos consist of nursery rhymes and educational songs complete with colorful characters and animations to hold children’s attention — things such as construction vehicles, animals, and more.  This is all blended with real life footage of Stevin as Blippi.

But Stevin wasn’t always set on being a YouTuber for kids. Before starting his channel, he followed a few different career paths, ranging from washing dishes to serving in the Air Force. But in the end, he found his calling as Blippi, where he can encourage kids to learn and grow through songs and videos.

Originally, Blippi was a solo project, but creating the show and its accompanying merchandise (shirts, books, dolls, and more) now takes a team of managers, cameramen, and animators. The team is also working on a live show along with episodes available on Amazon.

With 1.9 million subscribers and a cumulative 1.6 billion views on his videos, Stevin has amassed a loyal following of fans in nearly 140 countries. The show is also available in Spanish and German, with corresponding YouTube channels for each.

To learn more about Blippi, visit his channel at www.youtube.com/user/BlippiVideos/featured or his website at www.blippi.com. To listen to the full interview with Stevin, check out the podcast below.