Technology has evolved at a rapid rate over the last few decades and has had an impactful effect on every field. The importance of technology in our lives has increased multiple folds and education systems have experienced a revolution as well. Kindergarten or college, technology has permeated into every level of education creating greater opportunities for students. In the modern world, technology has paved the way for online education and educational start-ups, which now equal conventional education systems in their prominence.
Listed among the best of these education start-ups is Top Hat, which was founded in 2009 as the Top Hat Monocle, by Mike Silagadze and Mohsen Shahini. After being inspired by the growth in the usage of laptops in classroom education, the two founders began to design software that would easily allow students to view and manipulate online demonstrations. By 2010, they had received a grant from the institute of Waterloo to run a pilot and within a few months’ time Top Hat was launched in five institutes. The same year, they also joined the Accelerator Centre to construct a library of interactive demonstrations with SMS texting facilities.
Top Hat had its first department-wide adoption in the University of Calgary in 2011, and campus-wide adoption in Tennessee Tech in 2012. By 2013, it had formed partnerships with the leading learning company, Pearson, and one of the best lecture capture platforms, Panopto. The start-up now provides educational services to over 100,000 students in 180 universities around the world, including Harvard, Texas A&M, University of Toronto and University of Waterloo.
Top Hat offers technological devices like MOOCs and reusable course packs to enhance the learning experience and utilises social networking for student career counselling and placement. It enables online sharing of class lectures to every part in the world, allowing students to get access to quality education, from any University of their choice, at lower costs, irrespective of their geographical location. The start-up also makes it simpler for teachers to monitor and keep a track on a student’s progress using the ‘Gradebook’, while they themselves get real-time feedback on their teaching skills.
Start-ups, like Top Hat, consider the education field to have abundance of untapped potential. Over the last few years many new start-up ventures have been initiated in an effort to reform the experience of learning. Investors also see online education as a profitable sector to invest in and as a result education-focused start-ups have sprouted up like mushrooms. Fortunately, these start-ups bring about extraordinary changes in the way knowledge is imparted to students, revolutionising the entire modern education system.