The shock of the coronavirus pandemic is placing weight on an education system that has teetered on the edge of fully adopting technology in every day learning. With students studying from home across the country, Fiveable’s Amanda DoAmaral believes the pandemic could lead to a shift in education.
“I think it’s a lightning strike,” said DoAmaral, Fiveable’s founder. “I think everything’s about to change. Schools are going to be more willing to take on technologies and one-to-one computers for students is going to become the norm because it has to be.”
Fiveable’s online learning platform saw a 500% increase in accounts created between February and March for a total of 60,000 users. The Milwaukee-based startup also had 150,000 unique visitors to its website in March, which accounts for users accessing the platform’s free resources without having created an account, DoAmaral said.
“Every metric we track was either a three or a four-digit percent increase from traffic to engagement, it’s just wild,” DoAmaral said. “With every school closed, everybody was looking for support.”
Fiveable offers high school students’ educational resources including weekly live streams with teachers, trivia battles, study guides, a personalized dashboard based on each student’s needs and a community forum with live support.
With more users on the platform, Fiveable is collecting additional insights and adjusting their programming to cater to the at-home learning environment. Livestreams previously offered during after-school hours are now available during the day. The startup has made livestreams downloadable so students with poor internet connections can still have access, DoAmaral said.
“We were building a company for after school, but there is no after school anymore,” DoAmaral said. “Time has totally shifted.”
Both students and teachers were forced to adapt to new technologies overnight, which has led to an accelerated adoption of technology. DoAmaral suspects those who were previously hesitant to adopt new technologies will find them to be a valuable educational tool, she said.
Parent-teacher conferences, for example, are seeing higher attendance because they’re now conducted on a Zoom call, DoAmaral said based on conversations with educators. Although Fiveable doesn’t facilitate parent-teacher conferences on its platform, it’s just one of many ways the education system could evolve as a result of the pandemic, she said.
“What has changed overnight for education?” DoAmaral said. “It kind of feels like there’s this opportunity to rebuild the system.”