Most international schools were caught off-guard by COVID19. With schools closed and many students (with their parents) returning back to their countries, schools need to urgently transit into a 21st-century education mode, whereby they can teach students in both an in-class as well as online environment. Such a transition is driven by social distancing rules being enforced by governments globally, as well as the fact that many students are still overseas or parents are still unwilling to send their children back into classrooms for fear of contracting COVID19. There are also logistical issues with getting and distributing textbooks and workbooks to students who are overseas or who do not wish to go to school. Now, schools can subscribe to Zoom to take care of their live video-based classroom needs or sign up for Google Classroom to manage their assignments. They also have the option to use Slack for their virtual project communication needs. Teachers can work on creating quizzes for students on Kahoot! or Quizizz. Announcements to students are being conveyed via instant text messaging. As for printed books, these may be shipped to students’ addresses. For many schools, the above nightmarish scenario of juggling between multiple platforms and managing costs and teacher effort is real. However, schools leveraging mySecondTeacher (MST) do not have to put up with such complexities. MST caters to all core academic delivery needs and combines all the features required for schools to run online classes within a single, easy-to-use platform.
Founded in 2018 by Cambridge University alumnus Dr. Benson Soong, this young edTech company is already profitable, and their platform is being deployed in 20 countries with around 80,000 pre-ordered subject subscriptions. This feat is impressive for a young education technology company with no VC funding. When asked about the secret for its achievements, Soong attributes the success of his company to the endorsement by its partners, such as London Metropolitan University (UK), Alston Publishing House (Singapore), and the Innovate Nepal Group (Nepal). For instance, LondonMet offers an online degree program in Indonesia using MST; Alston offers schools with access to online versions of their Cambridge-endorsed textbooks and workbooks exclusively on MST, while the Innovate Nepal Group has licensed MST in Nepal for the roll-out of their national curriculum. With further development of partnerships in Indonesia and China, they expect to continue growing in 2021.
So what are the core functionalities of MST that make it the quickest and easiest way for schools to teach online and in-class? Well, MST provides access to three distinct groups—students, teachers, and principals.
MST allows teachers to schedule, create and conduct live video-based classes for students; create, distribute, receive, grade, and return marked assignments with feedback to students; automatically create mock exam papers based on topics, question types, and difficulty levels; access learning resources like eTextbooks, eWorkbooks, eTeachersGuides, and interactive videos. The platform also enables teachers to create collaborative virtual communication channels for student project groups; make announcements to students, and obtain learning reports of students. Essentially, the MST platform provides all the core features required for teachers to manage both face-to-face as well as online teaching in a single platform.
We live for the impact that we are making to individual students as well as schools on a whole, and strive to improve the delivery of education globally
MST equips students with eTextbooks, eWorkbooks, and interactive videos, to help them learn and seek answers from live tutors online, take mastery or mock tests and obtain diagnostic reports to find out their strengths and weaknesses, and attend live video-based classes conducted by their teachers. With MST, they can collaborate online in virtual discussion groups, receive and submit assignments, and obtain results and feedback from teachers.
As for principals, MST allows them to gain insights into their schools’ performance, including students’ online learning activities and their results. The eLearning contents that are available for subscription include Cambridge-endorsed content from Alston (TOP Math and TOP Science series). The interactive videos are of significant educational impact and cover the entire IGCSE syllabus for Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Additional Mathematics. Conducted in a dialogic manner involving a teacher and student, these interactive videos will amaze students and teachers alike.
“We live for the impact that we are making on individual students as well as schools on a whole, and strive to improve the delivery of education globally,” emphasizes Soong, founder of MST. To illustrate the same, Soong narrates the story of Kafia, a student from Pakistan who would tirelessly enquire about the payment options for subscribing to the full-version of different subjects on MST.
“He returned every day to ask various questions regarding payment—one day, it was whether he could do bank transfer and another day, it was whether a UnionPay credit card could be used,” he recalls. Eventually, what MST discovered is that the payment gateways that the company uses (Stripe and PayPal) do not accept payments from within Pakistan. As such, they began considering options for helping such individual student-customers from Pakistan to make payment. Meanwhile, they received a message from PayPal saying that payment from Kafia has been made. When the company checked how Kafia eventually made the payment, they discovered that he had contacted his uncle in Italy to log into his account and make the payment on his behalf.
Although dramatic in terms of the number of hoops that Kafia had to jump (over several days) to get full access to a specific subject on mySecondTeacher, his struggle mirrors the story of many students —they request their parents to buy—not games or clothes or gadgets—but educational content over the internet. Soong proudly mentions, “When we ask such students for the reasons for their purchase, the answer is usually similar: they learn better from us and as a result, score higher grades in official exams.”
To further extend their platform functionalities as well as increase their eLearning content offerings, MST is in the process of giving parents access to the platform and is working on providing A-Level subjects (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, Economics, Accounting) in an interactive video format. The company is also in the process of onboarding schools globally onto their platform. With so much happening, MST is on its way to make a positive impact on education well into 2021.