With the national lockdown affecting every company in South Africa, we take a look at companies that are innovating and providing helpful solutions to the community.
Today we speak to Adrian Marnewick, CEO of Learning Lab Apps and also a contributor to Teacher’s Monthly. In response to the lockdown, Learning Lab Apps launched WorksheetCloud Live Lessons which reached over 1.3 million users within its first month.
Co-founder Dereck Marnewick was Head of Physics at Fairmont High School for 15 years, before resigning in 1995 and ploughing his entire pension into his new startup idea called EvaluNet, that developed LAN-based educational software for the home and school market.
In 2014, Dereck and Adrian as a father-and-son team formed a new business called Learning Lab Apps. Learning Lab Apps is a bootstrapped and family-owned business.
Learning Lab Apps has a mission to create happiness in families. The way the company achieves that is through the online educational app they develop called WorksheetCloud that helps remove the stress all families experience with studying for exams and tests. We all remember stressing ourselves and our parents before tests and exams, and this is what WorksheetCloud aims to reduce or eliminate.
WorksheetCloud is dubbed as “the easiest way to study for your school exams”. WorksheetCloud provides learners with online, interactive worksheets and practice exams that are designed to help your child smash their school exams. The content is based on the South African CAPS and IEB curriculum and covers Mathematics, English, Afrikaans, Natural Science, History and Geography depending on the grade. We have content available from Grades 1 to 9.
Parents no longer need to spend hours searching for relevant study content. WorksheetCloud’s content includes detailed answers with model explanations, hints and tips. All the content is designed to help your child improve their school results quick and effectively.
Parents can see the full product tour at www.worksheetcloud.com.
Learning Lab Apps’ first core value is “Care about everyone”. When the lockdown hit, the team put their heads together to find a solution to school closures that could be used by all South Africans learners.
“It was obvious and understandable that parents were freaking out about this lockdown. Learners are worried about the impact it will have on their futures. Not to mention it is not clear if school will even resume after the lockdown,” says Marnewick. “In order to live out our core values, it was clear that we had to do something that was going to benefit the country and that would be freely accessible to as many learners and parents as possible.”
The company decided to offer free, live-streamed online lessons and called it WorksheetCloud Live Lessons. That turned out to be a disaster, even although over 40,000 learners watched the live-streamed lessons within the first two days, which is a record in South Africa. Marnewick adds: “With seven teachers, all sitting at home with differing internet speeds, it quickly became clear that live lessons were going to end up frustrating too many users because some of the teachers’ internet connections would bomb out mid-lesson.”
The company pivoted and rebuilt the entire site and system within 18 hours to cater for on-demand, recorded lessons and just replaced “Live” with “Online” in their name, WorksheetCloud Online Lessons.
The online lessons have reached 1.3 million views within the first month of launching. Parents can access this free content at www.worksheetcloud.com/live.
“Since we launched WorksheetCloud Online Lessons, I’ve been working 12 to 14 hour days, as has most of our team. But that’s okay because our team believes strongly in rolling with the punches.”
WorksheetCloud Online Lessons is in the process of being integrated into the WorksheetCloud app and will become part of the standard product offering.