In the lead to the inaugural EdTechX Online Summit, we spoke with David Yeo, Founder and CEO of ZilLearn to discuss his approach to the COVID-19 outbreak and connecting with the global learning community.
Tell us a little bit about ZilLearn?
ZilLearn is a teaching and learning network service for semi-structured and structured user-generated knowledge content. It’s a platform that connects a community of teachers, knowledge experts, collaborators, learners, organizations & enterprises on one platform. It enables teachers and knowledge experts to create their own learning space (channels) to teach and communicate with their community, as well as for learners to engage with teachers, anywhere in the world, through live classes or interactive digital courses.
Through the power of technology, we can make teaching and learning scalable, adaptable, and accessible to every person, anywhere in the world. Teachers and knowledge experts will be able to reach and impact more learners, transcending geography, language, and culture.
We’ve been working on ZilLearn for over the past two years so we’re really excited to be announcing its official debut at EdTechX!
What was the inspiration behind starting the company?
My first start-up was Kydon, a learning technology company in Asia that is now the premier learning solutions company in the region. After more than a decade of developing Learning Management Systems and designing digital training content for organizations, I learned two things. I believe that we should focus our efforts on making teaching and learning content scalable, adaptable, and most importantly, accessible to everyone. ZilLearn’s foundations are built on this.
Secondly, we should be making the platform as easy as possible for the teachers, knowledge experts, and creators to use. As such, we’ve designed and developed ZilLearn to be smart and convenient, affordable, and one that will scale-up and accelerate the teaching and learning process globally. I will be sharing these in more detail in my keynote.
What are you looking to achieve next?
My vision for ZilLearn is for it to become the one platform where people from all walks of life can have access to knowledge. It is a platform that’s user-agnostic; NGOs can use it to spread awareness for their cause, a retired teacher can teach learners anywhere in the world, brands can use it to teach their consumers on how best to use their products. Teachers or educators can also make their courses available for other teachers from across the world to adapt and use. The possibilities are endless. It’s one of the reasons why we’re named ZilLearn — creating a zillion learning possibilities and impact on the world’s keen learners.
Looking back to the day you started, what would you have done differently?
I wouldn’t have done anything differently. I believe that everything I’ve been through is part of the learning process and it’s given me the experience I needed to continue my efforts today in redefining the concept of teaching and learning and creating access to education for everyone regardless of their background. I guess, I would’ve put in more time and effort in prepping my family on what was ahead for us when I embarked on this journey. The journey wasn’t always an easy one but my family has been there to support me through this journey.
How do you think the support in your country has helped you grow?
I am lucky that I have a clean and transparent government system. Singapore provides valuable grants and resources so it is easy to get your business started and going. There are also not many bureaucracies to overcome or deal with.
What has been your approach to the covid-19 outbreak?
In the recent town hall meeting I had with my global team, I shared with them that we will take a balanced approach between prudence and innovation. To get out and get ahead of this pandemic, we need to be prudent in our expenditure. However, innovation is equally important too. It would’ve been our greatest downfall if we stopped where we were. So, we will “innovate the heck out of it” to survive and to thrive.
How do you think COVID-19 can change the way we view online learning?
One of the challenges we faced in the past when it came to online learning is its slow transformation and adoption. Now, it’s become a forced disruption and a necessity globally. Covid-19 will push forward educational practices that would otherwise take many years to be implemented. The community’s view of online learning and the use of technology has changed and will continue to do so. Organizations that think of online learning as an afterthought, will now have to think of it as a foremost thought. I’ve also observed that institutions and organizations alike have had to quickly adopt the use of various standalone apps to conduct online learning. Users find this to be clunky, impact productivity, and can be accumulatively costly. So, there’s a real need to find a more seamless and cost-effective solution that’s scalable and adaptable.
In David’s final remarks he shares: “We are living in an extraordinary time. I urge everyone to rethink business and technology. Organizations are so used to the competition but, now more than ever is a unique opportunity for us to come together to collaborate and serve society together”
Hear David’s presentation as part of the online EdTechX Summit 2020 being held on 12 & 13 May.