Source Code: Your daily look at what matters in tech.

source-codesource codeauthorShakeel HashimNoneWant your finger on the pulse of everything that's happening in tech? Sign up to get David Pierce's daily newsletter.64fd3cbe9f
×

Get access to Protocol

Your information will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy

I’m already a subscriber
People

What if the classrooms of the future were inspired by WeWork?

Teacherly's Atif Mahmood explains how tech could turn schools into shared spaces focused on digital learning.

Teacherly's Atif Mahmood

Teacherly's Atif Mahmood thinks the future of education could be a hybrid model, where children increasingly combine learning in schools and from home.

Photo: Courtesy of Teacherly

Education is in the midst of some of its most dramatic changes ever, with millions of kids and teachers all adapting to a new model of distance learning. For Teacherly founder Atif Mahmood, that presents a big opportunity.

"We have an opportunity to learn and have a discussion around what is the classroom, what is the curriculum, what is assessment, what is school," Mahmood said in an interview with Protocol. He thinks this is the perfect time to reexamine our preconceptions of how education works — and how tech can make it better.

With Teacherly, Mahmood and his team have developed a workflow tool that helps teachers plan lessons, do personalized professional development and teach remotely. "Lesson planning takes up 30% of the teacher's time," he said, adding that "there's something that's obviously broken." Inspired by the power of enterprise workflow tools, the London-based Teacherly is trying to bring similar productivity improvements to teachers, by turning lesson planning into a collaborative, Typeform-style drag-and-drop experience.

In a conversation with Protocol, Mahmood discussed the struggles of competing against Big Tech, what the future of schools might look like and how teaching can modernize.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

If Teacherly is a workflow tool, why does it have a remote-teaching functionality?

If you think about Slack, it's a workflow tool. It enables us to communicate better as a team. But within that workflow, we also are able to have a call. So if you think about the workflow [of a teacher], as part of when you plan your lesson, you then teach that lesson. When you teach that lesson, it can be done face-to-face, but it can also be done remotely.

One of the things that I'm a huge advocate of is flexible teaching. When I look at enterprise, and look at myself and the employees that I have, I pushed for flexible working, remote working. But if you think about education, you think about the demographic of the teaching workforce, 70% is female. But then if you think about the policies when it comes to working, it's still very back in the day — nothing's really changed.

So when I started thinking about where I wanted to go with Teacherly, it made total sense if you think about the workload — I can teach my lesson in class, but I could also create small online classes and I can teach remotely. That could be live lessons, or it could be me assigning a group of lessons to a small class, but it's flexible teaching from wherever.

What have the last few months been like?

It's been really, really busy. But at the same time, it's made it a little bit difficult, too. There's a lot of companies who maybe don't have the right solution for remote teaching and remote working but have kind of jumped on the opportunity and attracted schools, because they said, "Hey, you can use this for free from now until whenever." In a way, it's a good thing, but in a way it's actually quite sad — it's just become too much noise from companies or platforms that are probably not fit for purpose. Because of the free thing, it makes it quite hard [for us] at times.

Our revenue has been growing but hasn't grown significantly enough as I wanted to because we've had to be conscious of Microsoft Teams being free, Google Classroom being free. We've got over 20,000 teachers using [our product] for free — that's a total revenue potential of just under £5 million ($6.1 million USD). In reality, maybe we would have generated some of that revenue beforehand, but because others are free, there's a push to be free, a little bit.

What are your expectations for people sticking around once schools start reopening?

One of the things that's key here is the usage. We've gone from where teachers were using the platform 80 to 85 minutes a day, and now it's nearly 220 [or] 230 minutes a day, because teachers are using it for not just planning lessons or communicating with one another, but also delivering live lessons in bite size.

I think the future is more of a hybrid model, whereby you still have students coming into school, but you also have students learning from home, or maybe learning from another space. I've got two daughters — one's 8, and [the other's] 2. And I always said this when [the youngest] was born: I don't think when she starts school that she'll be going to a school like [the oldest] has been.

I think she'll go around to a — I don't know what you want to call it, a WeWork, coworking space. And then she'll go into school maybe a day a week or two days a week. But even at school, I don't think that school will be her individual school. I think there's an opportunity here to have shared school spaces. So hybrid, to me, is coworking, shared school spaces, with online learning.

What happens to the social side of school then?

It's important. When I started teaching in my second school, it was very much a white area. And one of the things that attracted me to that area was: They probably haven't seen an Asian or a Black person. And it's not their fault.

I don't want [my daughter] to be online all the time, because how is she going to connect, how is she going to play? When you think about the curriculum, it's still so rigid. It doesn't actually teach you anything around social or emotional learning — it still is very academic. It makes more sense to actually think about shared school spaces, where you do get to interact with different people from different schools. There needs to be an open dialogue around shared school spaces.

How do teachers feel about remote teaching — do they want things like this hybrid model?

We hear a lot about the fact that teachers have actually enjoyed working remotely. They've enjoyed the flexible working that I'm talking about: They see how they can generate an income on their own, whether it's through smaller online classes, or setting up their own school online. Because even when schools reopen, not every parent is confident with sending their kids back, and actually some parents have enjoyed home schooling their children. What I've seen from parents, and from teachers, is how do you connect the classroom closer to home. So those parents that do want to home-school, how can they be much closer to the teachers?

Power

The video game industry is bracing for its Netflix and Spotify moment

Subscription gaming promises to upend gaming. The jury's out on whether that's a good thing.

It's not clear what might fall through the cracks if most of the biggest game studios transition away from selling individual games and instead embrace a mix of free-to-play and subscription bundling.

Image: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Subscription services are coming for the game industry, and the shift could shake up the largest and most lucrative entertainment sector in the world. These services started as small, closed offerings typically available on only a handful of hardware platforms. Now, they're expanding to mobile phones and smart TVs, and promising to radically change the economics of how games are funded, developed and distributed.

Of the biggest companies in gaming today, Amazon, Apple, Electronic Arts, Google, Microsoft, Nintendo, Nvidia, Sony and Ubisoft all operate some form of game subscription. Far and away the most ambitious of them is Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass, featuring more than 100 games for $9.99 a month and including even brand-new titles the day they release. As of January, Game Pass had more than 18 million subscribers, and Microsoft's aggressive investment in a subscription future has become a catalyst for an industrywide reckoning on the likelihood and viability of such a model becoming standard.

Keep Reading Show less
Nick Statt
Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.

Over the last year, financial institutions have experienced unprecedented demand from their customers for exposure to cryptocurrency, and we've seen an inflow of institutional dollars driving bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to record prices. Some banks have already launched cryptocurrency programs, but many more are evaluating the market.

That's why we've created the Crypto Maturity Model: an iterative roadmap for cryptocurrency product rollout, enabling financial institutions to evaluate market opportunities while addressing compliance requirements.

Keep Reading Show less
Caitlin Barnett, Chainanalysis
Caitlin’s legal and compliance experience encompasses both cryptocurrency and traditional finance. As Director of Regulation and Compliance at Chainalysis, she helps leading financial institutions strategize and build compliance programs in order to adopt cryptocurrencies and offer new products to their customers. In addition, Caitlin helps facilitate dialogue with regulators and the industry on key policy issues within the cryptocurrency industry.
Protocol | Policy

Lina Khan wants to hear from you

The new FTC chair is trying to get herself, and the sometimes timid tech-regulating agency she oversees, up to speed while she still can.

Lina Khan is trying to push the FTC to corral tech companies

Photo: Graeme Jennings/AFP via Getty Images

"When you're in D.C., it's very easy to lose connection with the very real issues that people are facing," said Lina Khan, the FTC's new chair.

Khan made her debut as chair before the press on Wednesday, showing up to a media event carrying an old maroon book from the agency's library and calling herself a "huge nerd" on FTC history. She launched into explaining how much she enjoys the open commission meetings she's pioneered since taking over in June. That's especially true of the marathon public comment sessions that have wrapped up each of the two meetings so far.

Keep Reading Show less
Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

Protocol | Fintech

Beyond Robinhood: Stock exchange rebates are under scrutiny too

Some critics have compared the way exchanges attract orders from customers to the payment for order flow system that has enriched retail brokers.

The New York Stock Exchange is now owned by the Intercontinental Exchange.

Photo: Aditya Vyas/Unsplash

As questions pile up about how powerful and little-known Wall Street entities rake in profits from stock trading, the exchanges that handle vast portions of everyday trading are being scrutinized for how they make money, too.

One mechanism in particular — exchange rebates, or payments from the exchanges for getting certain trades routed to them — has raised concerns with regulators and members of Congress.

Keep Reading Show less
Tomio Geron

Tomio Geron ( @tomiogeron) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at tgeron@protocol.com or tgeron@protonmail.com.

Protocol | Workplace

The Activision Blizzard lawsuit has opened the floodgates

An employee walkout, a tumbling stock price and damning new reports of misconduct.

Activision Blizzard is being sued for widespread sexism, harassment and discrimination.

Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

Activision Blizzard is in crisis mode. The World of Warcraft publisher was the subject of a shocking lawsuit filed by California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing last week over claims of widespread sexism, harassment and discrimination against female employees. The resulting fallout has only intensified by the day, culminating in a 500-person walkout at the headquarters of Blizzard Entertainment in Irvine on Wednesday.

The company's stock price has tumbled nearly 10% this week, and CEO Bobby Kotick acknowledged in a message to employees Tuesday that Activision Blizzard's initial response was "tone deaf." Meanwhile, there has been a continuous stream of new reports unearthing horrendous misconduct as more and more former and current employees speak out about the working conditions and alleged rampant misogyny at one of the video game industry's largest and most powerful employers.

Keep Reading Show less
Nick Statt
Nick Statt is Protocol's video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at nstatt@protocol.com.
Latest Stories