Blurb from the author: Everyone learns differently. I did well in certain subjects like math and English, but I did poorly in others. I don't think it was because I had bad teachers for the other subjects or because I wasn't studying. It was more like her teaching style wasn't reaching me.
It is difficult for teachers to respond to the needs of each student. Ask Brian Tang, he knows that very well.
His students were 2 months away from their IGCSEs and he wasn't sure which topics to focus on more.
When he realized that he needed additional information about his students' performance, he took their exam papers, went through each question, and entered how much they achieved individually in an Excel spreadsheet.
Two hours later he had created a simple table that shows where most of them lost their grades. Then he taught his remaining classes, which were led by this raw table.
In June 2019, he decided to take this method to the next level and developed Abelytics (Abel).
The team of two behind Abelytics, Chrisanne and Brian / Image Credit: Abelytics
Abel is a system with which teachers can identify the weak topics of their students in a subject so that they can provide targeted tutoring.
"Is it really that important?" you ask. According to Brian, yes, because the problem is triple.
First, students' needs are often overlooked.
“This is mainly a problem with a standardized educational framework. The weaknesses and / or strengths of the individual students are not adequately weighted. Instead, when homework is given, it happens across the board, ”he said.
The weak student is expected to achieve the same level of performance as the more capable student.
Brian Tang, founder of Abelytics
Second, the teachers are overworked.
“The natural question of why students' needs are overlooked can be partially asked about the workload of teachers. If you're under time pressure, don't think too much about each student – you can't. "
"This leads to a stunted understanding of where your students are," said Brian.
Third, the schools lack a systematic data collection framework, which is why Abel has taken this into his own hands and simplified the process.
The process of using Abel begins with the students entering the data themselves through their Abel accounts. This only takes 5 minutes per student because the process has been optimized.
Dashboard / picture credits of a student: Abelytics
"This is an order of magnitude faster than the traditional way that teachers enter data for the entire class and with a much higher level of control," said Brian.
Including the students in the management process gives them a sense of responsibility and personal responsibility for their own data.
Abel then does data analysis to give teachers visualizations to identify patterns and makes recommendations such as “You should re-teach electromagnetism because X% of students are below the minimum Y%”.
An example of visualization / picture credits: Abelytics
Teachers can follow up on these recommendations, similar to their own task list.
The entire system was developed in-house and it took 4 months for the team to get from the idea to the first iteration of building and testing the data acquisition and visualization.
It took another month for the referral function and another two months for homework.
The recommendation function / picture credits: Abelytics
Until September 2019, Abel went into private beta and was present in 2 schools.
Teachers deserve better
Abel is currently running private schools, although Brian said that in reality anyone with a dedicated teacher (even in classrooms) or a parent can use Abel.
A test run is planned for a single class and a teacher for which a school can start, for which the team registers accounts.
The teacher is shown how to use the app effectively. Then he will go through them himself. 3 months later the school gave feedback on Abelytics.
Analysis dashboard of a teacher / Photo credit: Abelytics
For schools with less than 300 students, the price is RM8 / student per month, and for schools with more than 300 students you have to inquire about the price.
However, if a single teacher chooses to use Abel without instruction from his school, it is free forever.
Brian said: “While this is part of our user acquisition strategy, we also find that teachers already have to bear burdens. Providing Abel for free to improve education is the least we can do. "
One model he looks up to comes from an overseas startup called Gradescope. Abel's primary monetization method is therefore to charge school fees.
Question the status quo
To improve the platform, Brian would like to expand his questionnaire with homework to include more topics and cover more questions from the past year, create cohort reports at school level, and create lesson plan templates.
Their general plan is to expand further into the private education sector and build a stronger relationship there.
With the experience, they then hope to contact the CEE to advance the public sector.
As attractive as a solution may seem to Abel, the industry that matters is still a difficult nut to crack.
One of the biggest challenges has been to raise awareness of why our way of education in Malaysia needs to be improved.
“Educational institutions, like any monolithic structure, are usually satisfied with the status quo. And the teachers are overworked, so introducing an additional tool that needs to be used is an obstacle in itself. "
"But I'm convinced that Abel can only improve your students' grades by 10% across the board," said Brian.
Bottom line: Personally, I'm attracted to Abel's concept. My two parents are teachers themselves, and when I saw how hard they had worked over the years, I always appreciated my teachers' efforts. Sure, I may not have liked some of them, but I always tried to do my best in their classes. I see this solution, which can make your work easier, as a major A +.
- More information about other Edutech startups that we wrote about here can be found here.
Selected image source: Abelytics