Meet Maiuran Loganathan (17), a high school entrepreneur. Along with four other students from Elvebakken High School, he has decided to take learning and communication to a new level by creating Ediphy, a Social Learning Management System.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do at Ediphy and what your aim is?
As we are a rather young start-up, everyone does everything ranging from marketing to development. Yet my main responsibility as the CEO is to keep the big picture in mind and align our actions toward that. My aim is that in five years, every single student and teacher across the globe is using Ediphy!
What is the story behind Ediphy? Can you tell us a bit about how you ended up wanting to create a new LMS?
A little more than a year ago, I was rather frustrated about the LMS we were using; the user interface was complicated, there were no options for efficient communication, the hierarchy model was ancient, it was boring… The list of things that kept bugging me seemed to be never-ending. So I thought to myself “There has to be a better way” and that is really how Ediphy started.
How did you come across the problem you’re addressing and how did you define it?
As a student who had been using the same LMS for the past ten years without seeing a single change, I didn’t have to go far to find the problems. Although there were, and still are, a lot of drawbacks related to the user interface, I realized that the biggest problem is rather the sense of isolation in education. That is exactly what we want to solve with Ediphy. Every other sector is embracing the globalized and connected society that we are growing up in, but education is still staying behind; somehow, studying together with students from other schools is not encouraged. That is what we are changing; With Ediphy we are introducing a world where education is connected!
Each year, we see many LMS and LMS-like software packages push the limits or attempt to reinvent the way we think of as the traditional LMS. What is Ediphy doing differently than your competitors? Do you see yourself developing other differentiators in the future?
The first and most obvious quality that differentiates us from our competitors is the fact that we are high school students; we are the market and thus we understand what the market needs.
Secondly and most importantly, we are not just creating a new LMS; we are introducing a totally new concept; the SLMS – Social Learning Management System. The mere idea of connecting students and teachers from across schools and eventually across countries – It creates unprecedented magic!
We have many other differentiators, ranging from video conferences and project groups to achievements and gamification, but those two are the main things that makes Ediphy unique. As Ediphy is a dynamic entity that changes to best suit the students’ and teachers’ needs and desires, we definitely will be developing other differentiators in the future.
As students and teachers are empowered with technology, they get more freedom than ever to locate the resources they find best according to their needs. How do you think that this empowerment will affect the use of learning management systems?
Freedom in its most fundamental form is unambiguously equivalent to power. There is no doubt that technology brings with it a new sense of this power. The learning management systems of tomorrow must have to consider this and develop a product where the user is in power. The systems of today are sadly based around a hierarchical system where the end user is the school administration rather than the student – In such a system, it goes without saying, that learning or teaching cannot take place. A flat structure where the student is in focus is going to be the main effect of the empowerment of technology.
It seems like the communication between students is highlighted as an important aspect in your LMS. Why do you consider this form of communication important when it comes to learning management systems? What other features are important in a good LMS?
In Ediphy we do not differentiate between teacher and student when it comes to communication thus allowing for an efficient and flat structure. Communication in itself is what drives education forward. Communication in the classroom has for the most part been a monolog from teacher to student. With a teacher-student ratio of 1:20, it goes without saying that this is an inefficient way of teaching. When you rather focus on the communication itself, and allow for users to teach each other; that is efficient, that is meaningful and that is magical!
With education technology, an immense amount of students’ personal data is collected. How will you create a policy that protects your students and make them feel safe?
Personal data collection and privacy is something we consider with great seriousness. Following the immediate launch of Ediphy, personal data will not be collected and Ediphy will be focused around communication rather than management/collection of sensitive data. Thus, a grading system or absence system will not be available for use immediately after the launch.
However, we are working on creating a policy to store and manage sensitive data. As soon as this is in place, a premium system (grading- , absence- and management system) will be available.
On the other side, the closed nature of the traditional LMS that is a deal breaker for many people that wishes to implement other features. What are your thoughts on this matter?
I definitely cannot see a future for educational technology that involves a closed nature. Yet I do not believe that privacy and openness are matters of contradiction; I rather believe they exist in one mutually fulfilling, coherent being. That is what we strive to create in Ediphy. I totally understand that it is a complicated issue where each feature creates its own case that needs to be dealt with, but I do also see that it is not impossible. Privacy and openness are not antonyms anymore.
What excites you about working in the field of Education Technology? Where do you see the market going in the next few years, especially for LMS market segment?
Working with educational technology is in essence about working with technology. And working with technology is in essence about pushing the human race forward. That is what excites me about working in the field of educational technology. As technology creates unimaginable realities, it is our duty to make those realities into viable products that intrigues the user to attain more knowledge.
I believe the market is increasingly becoming more aware of the opportunities that exist in other sectors, therefore creating magical synergies that is further pushing our understanding of the market as a whole. The LMS market will experience the same wave of transformation and will have to drastically change its position to keep up with the world.
How do you imagine educational technology can impact the general and long-term landscape of education in Norway?
Technology is what pushes the boundaries of possibilities. As every other sector is incorporating technologies in their everyday life, it is only logical that the field of education will follow. This will drastically change the way we perceive educational technology opening for technology to be cross-sectoral. I believes synergies involving the gaming sector and the social media sector will have the greatest impact on the general and long-term landscape of education in Norway.
You will be speaking at the The Norwegian Classroom stand at BETT 2016. Can you tell our readers that will be visiting BETT why they should come by to listen?
Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes a long that changes everything. With Ediphy we are not just presenting a new product; we are completely rethinking the way you understand education. If you want to be part of this revolution that is going to utterly revolutionize education, then you should come by to listen.