Online Educational Platform Tensy Wins KIVO 2020
The results of the 2020 Competition of Innovations in Education were announced at the V International Conference ‘More than Learning: Exploring the Next Normal’, organized by Sberbank Corporate University. This year’s winner was not only selected by the jury practically without discussion, but also received the Audience Award. The results were a rare example of such a unaminous choice in all seven years of the competition.
Launched two years ago by a team led by Savva Antonyuk of St. Petersburg, Tensy is an online educational platform for students. As Savva puts it, the platform is ‘a lifeline for schoolchildren and their parents.’ The platform combines the benefits of a tutoring service and a Q&A service on school curriculum topics.
‘When students have school-related questions, they often have no one to turn to for help. The teachers are overwhelmed even after school hours, and students are embarrassed to ask their classmates,’ says Savva. ‘As a result, they get help from their parents. 70% of parents regularly do homework with their children. Even before the pandemic, parents spent an average of 7.5 hours a week helping their kids with schoolwork.’
The Tensy platform relieves parents of this problem. Now all students have to do is take a photo of an assignment and post it on the website or ask a question there about something they don’t understand. On average, within two minutes, a student receives an answer from another student who has already figured it out. But the platform is not just a place for finding answers to questions. It is also a place for ‘mini-lessons’ that include elements of explanation and discussion. For these lessons, the educational platform has all the necessary tools: text chat, the ability to make audio and video calls, as well as an interactive whiteboard.
The Competition of Innovations in Education (KIVO) has been held since 2014 by the Institute of Education of HSE University and the Rybakov Foundation with the support of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. Its aim is to support local educational innovations that have not yet received business or institutional support. This year, the competition received 405 applications. The most popular project areas were middle and high school (386 applications), early childhood education and primary school (205 applications), and additional education (198 applications). The most popular nomination categories included ‘Assistance in choosing educational and professional trajectories, and youth socialization’ (86 applications); ‘Digital reality’ (84 applications); and ‘Edutainment’ (81 applications). The list of finalists of the competition can be found here.
Due to the pandemic, Tensy saw an increase in demand this spring. 2,373 lessons were held on the platform, and students took an average of 6 lessons during their first week. The average time it took for students to be assigned a mentor was 110 seconds. (When a student asks a question, all mentors see the question, and as soon as one of them agrees to teach the lesson, the rest are automatically turned off ). Mentors earned an average of 27 rubles per mini-lesson. ‘On the one hand, we saw students return again and again to ask more questions, which speaks to the value of the information received. On the other hand, the mentors are motivated to explain the material and do it no less effectively than professional teachers,’ says Savva Antonyuk.
The Tensy platform is paid for by users (users can purchase a subscription for 24 hours, a week, or a month). A month of free and unlimited individual lessons is comparable to the cost of two regular lessons with tutors. Schools can launch he platform for free: connecting takes only a few minutes, and no special knowledge or training is required. Teachers get the opportunity to observe lessons and control their quality, and students of the school who have shown themselves to be good mentors can be invited to work on the main platform. Since the beginning of this academic year, more than 50 schools have connected to the platform. The developers hope to increase this number to at least 200 by February and to 1,000 by the end of the year.
During the discussion of the project, a member of the KIVO-2020 jury, Igor Remorenko, Rector of Moscow State Pedagogical University, asked the platform creators if they had a vision of how mentors should work with students. Savva Antonyuk explained that a whole list of recommendations has been developed for mentors. For example, they should not immediately give a student the answer to their problem but rather clarify what is difficult about it, what is unclear, and focus their explanations on exactly these aspects. This sets Tensy apart from other services where students can receive ready-made answers that they simply copy without asking any questions for clarification.
The Tensy team consists of young people with experience in education: 2 developers, 3 business angels, and 50 mentors, the last group of which averages 16 years of age. The team has won more than ten international hackathons and completed the HSE Business Incubator.
In previous years, teams that won the Competition of Innovations in Education received a travel grant as the main prize to present their project anywhere in the world. This year, the main prize is an educational grant from the Rybakov Foundation in the amount of 150,000 rubles. It can be spent on training in a programme of the winner’s choice, provided that it meets the needs of the project.
Ekaterina Rybakova, co-founder and president of the Rybakov Foundation
The Rybakov Foundation has been a co-organizer of KIVO since 2016, and here's why. This competition does not only award a number of the best participants with prizes. More importantly, it fosters the development of a community of progressive and motivated individuals who are ready to grow and change our education for the better. In this way, they show their initiative and leadership, because it fills their lives with meaning. It's great to win a competition, but there are never many winners, and it's hard to be alone. I am convinced that the most valuable prize for the winners of KIVO is joining a community of similarly driven people and entering into an environment of mutual support, experimentation, networking, and growth.
All KIVO project finalists received support from the competition partners:
The Rybakov Foundation recognized the projects Conservation Lesson and Super!Cool! in its own nomination category, ‘School is the Center of Society’. The project teams will receive a certificate to study at Impact Hub Moscow.
The Sberbank Charity Foundation ‘Investment to the Future’ will provide mentoring for the project teams of Erema, Tensy, and Super!Cool!
In a joint nomination category, the HSE Institute of Education and the HSE Graduate School of Business awarded mentoring support to the project, Startup Junior.
Strategy Partners will provide mentoring for the Erema, Conservation Lesson, and Learn Braille projects.
The Education League will provide the Erema project with a 3-month tracking programme from Kirill Savitsky.
The Skolkovo Open University will support the Startup Junior project in cooperation with the Skolkovo Mentoring Academy.
The Agency for Strategic Initiatives will support the development of Tensy, which won its nomination category of CovEd.
The Association of Manufacturers of Children's Products offered mentoring to the projects Erema and Tensy.
The online education publication ‘Mel’ will provide informational support to the Rosette project
In the ‘Breakthrough’ nomination category, ‘Enlightenment’ awarded the project, Manage Pro.
Courtesy of the Maximum Education, Tensy will be mentored by the company’s founder, Mikhail Myagkov.
Impact Hub Moscow has invited the Rosette project team to partner with them and organize events.
As part of the joint nomination of the Institute of Education and HSE University, methodological support will be provided for the development of the GOLBOL and Learn Braille projects.
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