AWS Public Sector Blog

Hot AWS EdStart Startups: Virtually supporting marginalized learners using EdTech solutions

Quality, inclusive, and relevant education for all helps break the cycle of poverty and reduce inequalities worldwide. According to Charter for Compassion, a marginalized identity is anyone who feels or is “underserved, disregarded, ostracized, harassed, persecuted, or sidelined in the community.” Marginalized groups include but are not limited to immigrants, refugees, those who are developmentally delayed or physically disabled, and people of differing gender, race, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. As education continues to shift to an online format, the potential for marginalized learners to fall behind is increasing due to the limited number of resources and tools available to help these students succeed.

These four AWS EdStart companies from the United States, Brazil, China, and Europe are dedicated to equipping diverse students with tools that can aid them in their educational journey, no matter where they are learning.

BASE Education in the United States is a psycho-social, therapeutic, online program that provides social emotional learning (SEL) prevention and intervention to kids and teens. Through content supported by evidence-based research students are able to learn facts about their behaviors, individually process their feelings, and develop personalized strategies for successful redirection and future growth.

Robin Glenn, chief executive officer (CEO) of BASE, a licensed professional, school, and addiction counselor focused on working with at-risk teens, saw a need to serve those falling through the cracks in schools. After losing students to suicide, overdoses, and drop-outs, it was clear the necessary resources had not been developed—so she created an online solution. BASE’s solution helps solve the micro and macro issues of student wellness and mental health. BASE’s technology meets students where they are, the content is scalable, and the system has an alert system to draw attention to students in need. BASE is a solution that draws the students into an active dialog and monitors their progress.

“AWS EdStart helped us by providing the resources necessary to translate our content into 52 different languages and high-quality voiceovers in 19 different languages. It has also given us access to technical resources that provide guidance and best practices for building out solutions within AWS which, as a small startup, has proven to be critical. It is through this high-quality and reliable technology that BASE has played a critical role in preventing countless tragedies,” said Mac Angell, vice president of engineering, BASE Education.

Domlexia in Brazil provides digital learning facilitation solutions for neurodiversity students in an integrated way, bringing identification and training tools to learners, parents, teachers, therapists, and schools. Domlexia offers tests, courses and tools such as games to help learners with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and ADHD improve their skills and overcome learning challenges. “With AWS, we have the possibility to securely store student data and performance so that we can use it to further improve their learning. In this way, AWS helps create more adaptive learning. The support from AWS EdStart and the credits provided through the program have enabled us to provide part of our service for free, resulting in over 10,000 downloads, and the ability to extend our services to underserved populations,” said Nadine Heisler, co-founder, Domlexia.

Kiron in Germany offers free online learning opportunities to refugees worldwide as well as to underserved communities in the Middle East. Kiron created the online learning platform Kiron Campus to ensure students receive no-cost access to high-quality education for academic, professional, and personal growth. Kiron’s users are all over the world, often in areas with weak internet connections and in a wide range of learning environments.

Kiron offers custom-made online study programs using massive open online courses (MOOCs) from renowned educational providers and open educational resources (OERs). Programs are complemented with additional support services ranging from language courses to personalized guidance.

“AWS allows our apps to be elastic and scalable, responsive to changing seasonal and daily demand, and reliable to learners who are often forgotten or excluded from traditional learning opportunities,” said Dom Starkey, head of engineering, Kiron. “We have a culture of experimentation at Kiron so being able to deploy rapidly, measure results accurately and make adaptations on the fly has been crucial to our growth. When the coronavirus forced many people around the world away from their work, formal education or vocational skills training, many new and existing Kiron students turned to online education, with course completions rising 700 percent in May. Thanks to AWS, Kiron’s hosting costs were able to stay relatively flat with increased demand.”

Superfish InteliClass™ in China is helping to address the English teacher shortage in rural China using artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver a simple, standardized, and data-driven English learning platform for teachers, students, parents, and administrators. Superfish’s mission is to provide under-privileged children in rural areas with equal opportunities to an English education, bridging the disparity in virtual educational resources. They are completing this mission by training instructors to conduct high-quality English classes with rigorous curriculums while also enabling students to learn from virtual AI teachers at their own pace, aided by personalized learning tutorials. Superfish uses Amazon Polly for its text-to-speech technology due to Polly’s fluid pronunciation, and EC2 for its flexible design and rapid delivery of new instance types in rural China.

“Since AWS began supporting us in 2017, we have experienced rapid growth. We now cover well over 550 schools, 110,000 students, and more than 43 million interactions. Without the trusted partnership of AWS, we would not be where we are today.” said Yan Liu, founder and CEO, Superfish IntelliClass.

AWS EdStart, the AWS educational technology (EdTech) startup accelerator, is designed to help entrepreneurs build the next generation of online learning, analytics, and campus management solutions in the AWS Cloud. Learn more about AWS EdStart.

Read more stories by Rachel Van Dinter.

Rachel Van Dinter

Rachel Van Dinter

Rachel is a global business development manager for AWS EdStart, primarily focused on EdTech startups and community organizations. Prior to working with EdTechs, Rachel worked as a global startup marketing manager for the AWS startup marketing team, building and growing global event programs around the world including AWS Startup Day and Startup Central at AWS Summits along with immersive event activations at third-party startup conferences around the world.