“We believe that educational institutions are seriously struggling today to cope with the mass introduction of technology in the education process.” – Nikolaos Nikou, Greece
The role of technology in teaching and learning is a subject we cover nearly every day here at Daily Edventures. Whether it’s 1:1 learning, apps that bring tired subject matter to life or collaboration tools that connect classrooms down the hall or across the globe, technology is changing the face of education. But how do schools – and overloaded educators – effectively manage this new wealth of technology?
That’s the question posed by Nikolaos Nikou and his company, Vertitech, a sponsor of next week’s Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona. With all the technology available to teachers and school leaders racing to ensure their institutions are keeping up, what goes on behind the scenes can be just as important as how the new tools play out in classrooms.
The company’s IT solutions, Vertischool, SchoolPortal and SchoolMobile, form a complete school management system that gives parents, students and teachers direct access to key information, from teacher feedback to school calendars to shared documents. The platform supports social networking within the school community and provides tools for collaboration and document management, all powered by Microsoft Office 365 for Education. In addition to supporting technology-based pedagogy, the company also offers tools to help school leaders better manage finances, make administrative processes more efficient and attract new students.
Says Nikou, “We are proud to believe that we have created a unique software platform that allows any educational institution, of any size or kind, to fully manage the whole education process end to end.”
With all of the momentum in education technology today, tools to manage the “back office” are becoming increasingly important. Nikou’s company was inspired by this critical and often overlooked need. “We strongly believe that the education sector is where manufacturing stood 30 years ago,” Nikou tells us. “Information will change education and a new ‘SAP-like’ system will emerge to support this radical change.”
We’re looking forward to seeing these tools in action next week in Barcelona. In the meantime, enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Nikolaos Nikou.
What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?
A few years ago, as the CEO of a software development firm, I realized that the education sector is a sector that is about to radically change thanks to the new technology introduction. Since then, I have transformed my company to be one of the pioneer software vendors in the education sector in Greece and abroad.
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?
A math teacher was the one who changed my perception of school.
Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education. What has changed as a result of your work?
We believe that educational institutions are seriously struggling today to cope with the mass introduction of technology in the education process. One-to-one learning devices, such as tablets and smart phones, distance learning tools and methods, mobile apps and many more are introduced in all schools today. As a result, islands of technology are created everywhere. Managing the complication of today’s IT infrastructure is a major and a difficult achievement. We have done it!
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
We have introduced the VertiSchool platform to be fully integrated with Office 365 as well as (occasionally) fully integrated with Moodle LMS in more than 200 schools. We believe we have gone all the way through by using innovation and technology.
In your opinion, how has the use of apps, cellphones, and mobile devices changed education? And your work?
Mobile apps are already an everyday reality in many classrooms. They are also definitely a reality for many teachers, students and parents. All parties can now easily have access to information, knowledge and participate in educational or school networks. However, the impact in most cases is still rather low. This is due to the lack of end-to-end process management and to many incompatible solutions.
Mobile learning and mobile apps are still not fully integrated within the school environment and teachers need to spend a lot of time managing these solutions. As a result, the pace of real change is still slow. We strongly believe that mobile trends will radically change the reality of education when these systems are fully integrated with existing learning platforms and make it easier to “consume” digital content more easily.
In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?
Technology is entering the classroom at high speed. Mobile devices, digital content, learning management systems, distance learning solutions, collaboration and social networking are becoming a reality in many schools. Schools and educational institutions are rather low budget organizations with huge demands on information consumption, information management, security, user support and many more.
It is exciting to see how these organizations will evolve and adopt new technologies in order to cope with this unique, huge and rapid change. We expect to see new software solutions evolve that cope with this complexity. We expect to see technology changing to become a really effective and essential tool for any student, teacher or parent.
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
Problem solving, analytical thinking, collaborative and creative teamwork are always required by any corporation, start-up or small firm. Education should prepare students to think, co-work and learn instead of providing knowledge and information. Technology handles the latter quite well. Students just need to learn how to use technology for their advantage.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
A connection to the Internet, a search engine and a collaborative team working environment to exchange ideas and their work. These are the only necessary tools any student would need, if of course the student knows how to find, prioritize, filter and judge the information available on the Internet today. The teacher’s job is to teach students how to manage this easy and extremely complicated task!
What is your country doing well currently to support education?
Not much, to be sincere. Unfortunately on a national or state level, things are moving extremely slowly. However private education, such as private schools and colleges, as well as some specific public schools, are really advanced in all areas. They have embraced technology on all levels. They have changed their educational process with exceptional results. So the question is, can these paradigms easily be replicated in the public sector? As of now, I am very pessimistic.
How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?
The Greek educational system is based on hard knowledge goals. Our everyday school process needs to change dramatically. Although I am not an educator myself, I believe that the teaching process, teaching goals and evaluation methodology need to radically change. Technology should be used in every class, every day. Team working, adaptive learning and information exchange should be enabled via technology. Strong back-office support should enable any teacher to utilize technology and change the way he or she delivers knowledge to a class.
About Nikolaos Nikou, CEO, Vertitech
- Birthplace: Kavala, Greece
- Current residence: Greece
- Education: MBA, MSc Electrical Engineering and Computing
- Website I check every day: Flipboard – technology articles
- Person who inspires me most: Bill Gates
- Favorite childhood memory: Summers in our summer house.
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Dublin, Ireland
- When was the last time you laughed? Now — Why? I liked the question!
- Favorite book: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
- Favorite music: Rock – Latin
- What is the best advice you have ever received? You should travel and work abroad.
- Your favorite quote or motto: Start small, think big.
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