Geek teachers: making teaching fun using technology.

Young entrepreneurs around the world are disrupting education with their fresh ideas, bringing innovation into the classroom. This International Education Day (24 January), our Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year 2020, Mariia Plotkina, tells us how her business Geek Teachers has helped teachers in Russia adopt digital technologies to improve teaching and learning.

In 2015, I started working as a computer science teacher at school. I wanted to share ideas with my students about how IT can simplify their lives, why computer science is cool and how using different apps could make their lives easier. I had a lot of ideas and a real desire to do cool things, but there wasn’t enough support to do them. I felt redundant and wanted to leave my job because I didn’t know how to put the ideas I had into practice.

A year later I met Arina – now the co-founder of Geek Teachers – who was also a computer science teacher. We became friends and supported each other. Together, we studied many apps that can be used in the classroom to save teachers time: apps that help you conduct surveys, simplify your life or mark tests more easily.

We wanted to share this “secret knowledge” with other teachers because we understood that not everyone knew how many digital tools can be used in the classroom. To reach more teachers, we started using social media and creating webinars for 30-40 people – and although our business Geek Teachers didn’t exist yet, this was the first seed. 

In 2018, we took part in a competition for teachers and one of the tasks was to come up with our own project. At the competition, we met a teacher who became another co-founder – and that was when Geek Teachers really started. We wanted to show teachers that phones in the classroom can actually be helpful to students, that with technology you can have more free time to rest and enjoy the class, and that apps, if used correctly, can motivate and encourage students. 

We shared all our ideas on social media, but we quickly understood that this was not enough. We wanted to create a community of geek teachers, in love with their profession, who like to learn and are open to new things. We believe these teachers will help students enjoy learning.

We came up with educational festivals where teachers meet, dance, hang out and study. We held 6 Geek Teachers festivals in different cities in Russia, and in the last festival, we brought together 1,500 people. So we began to rally teachers not only online, but also offline. 

At present, we are conducting online courses and doing events, and we have plans to expand Geek Teachers globally. Our main idea is that learning should be fun, like one big party, because there are so many hard things going on in life. We would like to help make life easier and more joyful for teachers.

Mariia Plotkina was our Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year 2020. Read more about her story here.

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