Obrussa, a pioneering education technology company, have just moved into Bristol and Exeter House in the Enterprise Zone, and are on the cusp of launching the first iteration of their maths GCSE formative assessment app. We caught up with Bill Hutchison, founder of Obrussa, to get a grasp on what they’re all about.
How long has Obrussa been around? The company was officially founded in April 2014.
Why did you choose Bristol and Exeter House for your office? It’s great start-up space with a great atmosphere in an architecturally notable building. We love the history too, Brunel’s association with the building. Enterprise Zone benefits such as business rates rebate and superfast broadband are also very attractive.
How many employees do you have? We currently have four full time employees who specialise in software development, and four part time and advisory members of staff from the education sector. We also have one full time research associate based at Essex University, funded by Innovate UK.
What kind of research are they doing? With our University partners, we are developing an intelligent data analytics layer for learning. This is an artificial intelligence system that analyses learner behaviour and then recommends what they should do next to reach their goals.
What product will you be launching with next month, and what can we expect in the future? Next month we are launching a diagnostic test for GCSE Maths that parents and learners can use to bring focus to their studies. Our test allows people to find the gaps in their maths knowledge and then helps them to fill those gaps with feedback and links to learning resources.
What makes Obrussa different from other edtech companies out there? We think differently in a lot of ways. First of all, we see assessment as the start of learning rather than the end. If you can understand the learner at the outset, you’ll be able to personalise the learning and the teaching. Secondly, we are an open platform, and we’re interested in recommending other people’s learning resources rather than publishing our own. In that regard, we’re truly neutral. Finally, everything we do is related to social interactions between people as they learn – asking for help and feedback. We think this combination of assessment, feedback and recommendation is truly unique.
What’s meant by ‘formative assessment’, and why is it so important? Formative assessment describes assessment that is used as part of the learning process to guide teacher and learner on what they should do next to reach their goals. It’s a very well understood concept in the classroom, but very few people do it online.
You’ve also run a successful hack event recently – do you have plans to run any more? We’re running another hack event in Temple Studios on 12th November. This time it’s about building RESTful service layers in NodeJS.
Describe Obrussa in 3 words. Feedback for learners.
How can people get involved or keep up to date with Obrussa? You can visit our website, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to receive all our latest news. We’re also currently fundraising on Seedrs: please visit our fundraising page if you’d like to invest. If you’re a tutor, become our partner. Obrussa will help you teach more effectively and efficiently, and create durable value with online assessment and feedback for GCSE Maths.