With three weeks left until the application deadline, the Open Education Challenge has already received over 100 submissions. After March 17, we start the process of selecting the winners who will be invited to participate in the European Incubator for Innovation in Education. This article explains the three selection rounds and the evaluation criteria we will use to get to the final ten. Two members of the OEC team who will be involved in the selections, Pierre-Antoine Ullmo and Yishay Mor, explain what they are looking for in each of the areas of evaluation.
The Selection Process
Round 1 – The shortlist
The internal Open Education Challenge team will score each of the applications based on their responses to the four questions in the application form and their 30 second video. Everyone who scores over 70 points will become a semifinalist. There is no minimum or maximum number of semifinalists. All of the applicants will receive their score, and the shortlist will be announced on 30 March, 2014.
Round 2 – The finalists
The semifinalists will then be asked for more detailed information about their project. Some may be asked to do a phone interview to evaluate personal and team characteristics. From the shortlist we will select the 20 finalists, who will be announced on 20 June, 2014.
Round 3 – Pitch to the OEC Jury
The 20 finalists will be invited to Barcelona for workshop where they will get to pitch their idea to the OEC Jury, who has the hard task of selecting the 10 winners to participate in the incubator. Five finalists will be kept on a waitlist, in case any of the 10 winners decides not to take part in the incubator or is unable to do so.
The Evaluation Criteria
Throughout all three rounds of selection, we use the same four evaluation criteria:
- Educational quality – 30 points
- Technological relevance – 20 points
- Business sustainability – 20 points
- Team value – 30 points
You’ll notice that the four criteria align with the four questions in the application form. The video falls under “Team Value” (read 4 tips to making your video for more information). Let’s take a look at what each of the criteria mean and how the scoring breaks down.
Educational quality – 30 points
- Relevance of the problem you want to solve – 12 points
- Good understanding of the education context – 12 points
- Good identification of users/beneficiaries – 6 points
Pierre-Antoine gave his thoughts about how the educational quality component will be evaluated.
“Behind your vision, there is a context, a problem, a target but also theories you refer to and good practices that inspire you,” he said. “More importantly, you certainly have an idea of how to measure the success of your project, in other words a clear idea of the benefits your innovative project will provide to the users: classes will be more entertaining, students more motivated, jobs easier to get, teachers better trained, etc.”
You need to show that the problem you’re working on not only can be solved, but that your project can make a concrete difference to real people.
Technological relevance – 20 points
- Good understanding of the role of technology – 7 points
- Appropriate degree of innovation – 7 points
- Feasibility of the proposed technological solution – 6 points
“Technology is not an end in itself but a tool to reach your goal,” said Pierre-Antoine. “Many of the innovators we learn from in the education field look for the best technology to serve their educational goals. It can be as simple as an idea to rent textbook instead of having to buy them or as complex as built-in students’ analytics.”
You don’t need to invent a new kind of super-computer, you just need to explain why the technology you use and the way you use it is the best choice for what you want to achieve.
Business sustainability – 20 points
- Clear understanding of your market – 10 points
- Good analysis of your competitive advantage – 10 points
According to Pierre-Antoine,
“Venture capitalists and not-for-profit foundations share the same concern for the soundness of their investment. They will need to be convinced that you are able to reach your targeted users, cover your costs and ensure the provision of your product or/and service over time with the best quality.”
For the first round, you should be able to tell us where your idea fits into the current market and what sets your product or service apart from what's already available. In the second and third rounds, you can expect more detailed questions about your potential customers, your revenue streams, your expected costs, etc. If you don't have that information yet, we can point you to some resources and tools to help you start thinking and planning about it.
Team value – 30 points
- Credentials of the team – 10 points
- Balance and compatibility of the team – 10 points
- Convincing leadership skills – 10 points
“Many startups fail after a few months because of a lack of team’s cohesion. Do you share the same vision? Do you complement each other? Are you able to work as a team? These are key questions that you have to answer,” said Pierre-Antoine.
When we talk about credentials, we don’t mean diplomas or degrees. We want to see that you have the skills necessary to implement your idea within your team. You can demonstrate your skills by mentioning previous projects or courses you’ve done, for example.
Improving your proposal
Throughout the second and third rounds of selections, we offer individualized support to the semi-finalists and finalists to develop and improve their proposals to meet the expectations of the Jury. If your project is just at the idea stage now, we'll provide tools and resources to help you develp a business model and plan of action. If you have any questions about the selection process or evaluation criteria, don't hesitate to contact us.