“Technology helps us to democratize education”, Ainhoa Marcos, ODILO

Interview published by LA RAZÓN

By: Arantxa Herranz

She was responsible for signing, for Microsoft, the agreements with the Ministries of Education during the pandemic to allow students to continue receiving classes. Now, Ainhoa Marcos is the VP Education Spain and Global K12 of Odilo, an educational technology platform that, she says, she uses even when she teaches at the University.

Ainhoa Marcos recently assumed her role as VP Education Spain and Global K12 of the education startup in Spain, a position she combines with that of director of the Y12 area (education up to 12 years old), with the objective of “bringing Odilo’s value proposition to educational institutions, both public and private, in Spain”.

In his first interview as VP Education Spain and Global K12 Marcos, defends that Odilo is a “totally new and transformative solution in the educational field” but recognizes that the main thing is to “generate confidence in the market”. To do this, he has formed a team of six people, five of whom have just joined the company. All of them, says Marcos, are experts in education and have experience working with the public administration. “My main objective is for clients to see us as experts in education, as a company that will help them achieve their learning objectives in all the areas in which they work,” he says. This consulting work should lead to the implementation of the product in order to “achieve that impact through projects that will allow us to transform education” in Spain.

But what does Odilo think this transformation should look like? Ainhoa Marcos argues that education cannot be the same for everyone, but must be adapted to the characteristics of each student. “Not all people learn in the same way. They don’t learn at the same pace or with the same types of content,” she explains, justifying that “education can no longer be linear, based on a single textbook”.

To achieve this personalization “based on the skills, competencies and characteristics of each student,” Marcos believes that technology is a great ally. “Technology helps us to democratize education,” he says.

To this end, teachers, management teams, education departments and families must have the right tools to be able to manage this personalization of learning, while the student will be able to “consume content that is more in line with his or her personality” so that learning becomes more motivating. “What we are already developing are learning habits, a taste for learning,” he stresses, regardless of the system by which each one is governed.

All types of education

Odilo is an educational platform for all types of training, from basic and elementary to university and postgraduate.

Its CEO explains that Odilo is based on three elements: content, technology and people. From there, a catalog of content (up to 4 million) ranging from multi-format and multi-language videos to podcasts, audios, etc. is configured. “Being the largest aggregator of educational content in the world allows us to undertake projects in all areas of learning and at all levels of learning,” says Marcos.

He also assures that his company is “able to understand the learning needs of each institution or each department within an institution” and, from there, to develop or create a customized proposal. According to its figures, it currently has 170 million users worldwide and nearly 8,000 institutions working with them.

Marcos also argues that teachers will continue to be the key to these new educational models. “No technology is going to be able to replace that human capacity that the teacher has,” he stresses, adding that technology, far from replacing the teacher, will give him or her superpowers.

In his case, Odilo makes available to teachers an artificial intelligence tool with which teachers can create their own materials for their students, assisted by artificial intelligence. “In this way we are eliminating bureaucracy and procedural issues for teachers, so that when they are in the classroom with the student they can really dedicate more time to what is this personalization of teaching,” he emphasizes.

Marcos also assures that there will always be curricular systems and tests that measure competencies and knowledge. “What we do is personalize the student’s approach to learning, offering different ways of learning mathematics or history,” he explains, through recommendation algorithms, offering a “discovery experience in which the student does not look for the content, but rather the content finds the student”.

Marcos also defends the quality of the content on his platform, which often comes from “classic” textbook publishers.

Although some of them are copyrighted, they also do so with open educational resources, i.e., content that teachers create and become open educational resources that are shared in the educational community.

A historian with expertise in education

Ainhoa Marcos has a degree in history because, she admits, she always wanted to be a teacher of this subject. But life gave her the opportunity to work for technology companies such as Microsoft precisely in the educational area.

In that position, she was responsible for signing agreements with the different education departments during the pandemic, so that students in compulsory education could continue to receive distance learning.

Marcos assures that Odilo does not compete with Google or Microsoft’s educational platforms, but integrates with them because they are different proposals.

What is more of a problem is the resistance to change and the unwillingness to use technology in the classroom. So much so that one of the services that Odilo offers when implementing a project is, precisely, change management that involves working in a different way. However, he believes that a balance should be sought, without all training with new technologies or renouncing to them. “Technology is just another tool, like scissors for cutting. And the student must be taught how to use it more appropriately”.

“The problem is that so far we haven’t taught it to them. We have given them a very powerful tool. Without limits. But what we can’t do is eliminate it from their lives because it is part of them and their future,” he says.

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