Why We Invested In Tutero
Today, we're excited to announce our latest seed investment in Tutero, an Australian online tutoring platform, alongside Jagen and Commonsense Ventures.
Poor Engagement and The Learning Gap
According to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the average spending on primary and secondary education as a percentage of GDP among its member countries was 3.4% in 20181. Yet, despite the expenditure on schooling rising by more than 15% over the past decade, the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 report highlighted that there has been no real overall improvement in the learning outcomes of students in OECD countries2.
Why? When asked what the greatest challenges to academic performance are, teachers have continued to point to the challenges of keeping students engaged and their ability to address individuals’ gaps in understanding.
A curriculum-led approach to teaching is widely adopted in traditional education systems and is designed to ensure that students are exposed to a common set of knowledge and skills. While the benefits of the approach include providing a consistent and structured learning experience, it can also contribute to learning gaps.
However, the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to instruction is also failing to sustain engagement amongst students. For example, students who are already proficient in a topic may become bored or disengaged if they are required to move at the same pace as the rest of the class. Similarly, struggling students may fall further behind if they do not receive the necessary help and instruction to catch up.
To make matters worse, Covid-19 significantly disrupted the learning of over 1.5 billion primary and secondary students globally3.
The impact has now been confirmed in two parts. Firstly, students around the world are believed to have lost up to eight months of learning with meaningful disparities across and within regions and countries. Secondly, the already wide range of academic levels within classrooms has worsened with learning losses disproportionately affecting low-socioeconomic status households and pre-existing low-performing students4.
Scaling Bloom’s Vision
In 1984, Benjamin Bloom’s seminal study on “The 2-Sigma Problem” presented findings that students subjected to Mastery Learning and One-on-One Mentorship education principles tend to perform one and two standard deviations (sigma) above the average of the control class, respectively5.
It’s been a long time since Bloom’s techniques were made public. Since then, tutoring’s efficacy has become well-established as private tutoring has grown significantly into a $100+ billion industry6. Yet, as supplementary education, the disadvantage is that it disproportionately benefits those who can afford it.
Meanwhile, neither of Bloom’s methods has achieved meaningful adoption within traditional classrooms. The obstacle is scalability. For traditional classrooms with their one-size-fits-all curriculum and primitive tools, the requirements of either teaching principle are too time and cost-intensive for teachers and schools to implement for large groups of students.
However, looking to examples outside of schools, companies such as Khan Academy, Udemy and Udacity have demonstrated the ability of technology-enabled solutions to effectively implement teaching methodologies outlined in Bloom’s work in a one-to-many model.
This brings us to the immense opportunity for Tutero – to deliver on the promise of delivering efficacy and equity to K-12 education, at scale.
Tutero is developing a product network, connected by a student knowledge database, to democratise learner-centred pedagogy, with personalisation at its core.
The team fundamentally believe that appropriate placement is critical to teaching children mastery and is building STEM knowledge graphs that underpin its products.
The market wedge, online tutoring, features a diagnostic assessment to identify gaps in a student’s knowledge and then generates personalised learning plans mapped against the optimal pathway for that student to learn. Typically, educators (tutors and teachers) need to manually diagnose gaps in their students’ knowledge, which is time-consuming, and often inaccurate.
Tutero enables educators to leverage real-time data from formative and summative assessments to; evaluate a student’s progress and performance while teaching, enable instructional adjustments, and determine whether topic mastery has been achieved before progressing to the next topic.
Within schools, Tutero will empower teachers by developing an operating system to streamline all the little things that operationalise personalised learning. Firstly, by digitising and automating workflows that are most labour intensive, such as content creation, assessment coordination, and lesson planning. The platform’s built-in analytics will also enable teachers to manage variability in the classroom and assist struggling students in a targeted manner
The team have achieved impressive traction since launching in December 2021. In just over a year, Tutero has facilitated over 14,000 hours of learning across 950+ students in Australia. And they’re just getting started.
To build something so ambitious and mission-critical, you need a special team that has lived and breathed the problem statement.
Joey Moshinsky would profess to have struggled with compounding knowledge gaps in maths throughout his education career, Richard Mathieson fell on the other end of the spectrum and struggled to remain engaged with the ‘slower’ pace of teaching in classrooms, and Sonny Moshinky undertook gig work as a tutor and was constantly challenged by the need to accurately diagnose students learning gaps.
Given their collective backgrounds, deep passion and conviction about what they are building, and abundance of product empathy, the team have quickly connected the dots of how their vision can come together over time. The pace of execution is one of the most important ingredients for success in a startup, and Tutero has it in spades.
At Aura Ventures, we believe the most effective education also revolves around three core pillars: high-quality content, personalised teaching and accurate assessment. With today’s technology capabilities in connectivity and artificial intelligence, we believe Tutero can deliver on all three of these pillars, at scale. For these reasons, we’re extremely excited to partner with Tutero in their mission.