Dr Wendy Oke speaks to Eve Kelliher about providing educators the platform to help children develop
YOUNG children, as well as their parents and educators, should be the big winners thanks to a Cork business that has adapted to our brave new post-lockdown world.
TeachKloud/Kloud Academy is a cloud-based platform that streamlines processes for pre-school and early-years childcare providers.
Developed by an innovative Douglas woman, Dr Wendy Oke, TeachKloud uses artificial intelligence to auto-suggest early childhood curriculum framework goals, allowing the teachers more time to focus on childcare needs.
The app also promises to reduce administrative tasks and paperwork by up to 50%.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic with thousands of children forced to stay at home along with parents who may have to work from home, Dr Oke has trained her focus on home learning. The result? The Kloud Academy, which is an expert-created video library, developed by teachers with children’s development in mind.
Describing it as “the Netflix for children's learning”, Dr Wendy ensured it features educational videos from expert teachers around the world on topics such as yoga, dance, drama, literacy, science experiments and puppetry.
Dr Oke was a finalist of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in 2019 and was an ambassador for National Women’s Enterprise Day, both initiatives of the Local Enterprise Offices. She applied for the Local Enterprise Office Covid-19 support, the trading online voucher, which will enable the company to further develop its online presence and increase revenue during the pandemic.
“We have focused on product development for TeachKloud, childcare management software to re-launch in September, taking into account the new mandatory requirements for schools as well as developing the Kloud Academy,” says Dr Wendy.
The response so far has been very positive. “Since Covid-19, many of the TeachKloud customers asked about creating a library full of fun and educational activities for children and parents to do within the home. TeachKloud listened and as a result launched Kloud Academy,” she says.
“We always did business online. This new era has introduced more customers to working remotely, attending demos using applications like Zoom and we’re seeing more of a willingness to use technology like TeachKloud to automate business operations like billing parents, child attendance, doing visual assessments for Covid-19, risk assessments, communicating with parents to improve social distancing/efficiency within schools.”
Education has always been a driving force for Dr Oke. “The power of a quality early education took my grandfather, Justice Aniagolu, from a makeshift hut to becoming a supreme court judge,” she tells the Irish Examiner.
“His mother always prioritised education and would often go hungry so that she could pay his school fees. As a direct result, the value and power of education has been ingrained in my family’s history and directly inspired me to obtain a degree, master’s and PhD in early years education.”
It was during Dr Wendy’s studies, at Cork Institute of Technology, and while working in early childhood services, that she noticed a key need. “I discovered that despite the dedication and quality of teachers, they were spending more time on paperwork and less time focused on child development," she says. “That is, less time supporting children like my grandfather who needed access to quality care and education. I started TeachKloud to support teachers in complying with regulations, documenting quality practice, to improve parent communication and child outcomes.”
Positively adapting to the post-lockdown world is adding to her business momentum. “We’re looking at entering the home-school learning market and supporting teachers with on-demand fun and educational videos, now that more children are spending time at home,” says Dr Wendy. “We’ve also added webinars to our offering. Our first webinar had over 1800 registrations and focused on practical guidance on re-opening childcare services during Covid-19. We’re seeing more willingness to learn online.”