Peaqs Sees 300% Growth – An EdTech Frontline Story

It is no secret that the Covid19 crises has accelereted a shift of attention and resources towards digital solutions in educational systems across the globe. And while this has left teachers and universities scrambling for new approaches to teacher and courses, the disruption has been a massive opportunity for most EdTech providers to widen awareness and gain new business relations.

For new Danish EdTech on the block, and 2019 Nordic EdTech Award finalist, Peaqs, the disruption has translated into a tremendous growth story, with user-levels up by more than 300 % for the next semester over the previous two semesters – combined! A dramatic change induced by trendlines most people would recognize, Co-Founder Peter Martin Holst explains: 

‘One lever is certainly the simple fact that video-meetings have become a new normal. They are a true enabler when your product has a potential global audience. In the previous year leading up to the lockdown most of our meetings were done in-person with university professors and course designers. 

Since then practically everyone has video-meetings as the first go-to option, giving a business such as ours a much easier way to reach our audience. Not only to make deals but also to get much needed platform feedback, which is essential for a newcomer such as Peaqs, who develops in tandem with user- and expert- feedback. So the fact that everyone has grown comfortable with video meetings means we are getting invaluable feedback on a scale and scope that we wouldn’t have imagined a year ago’.

Another obvious trendline that has assisted Peaqs’ growth is the acceleration in demand for digital solutions in higher education in general. Universities have had online and blended learning ambitions for years, but in many cases the implementation has been half-hearted. Propelled by campus lockdowns this is changing, but the change has to make sense and deliver on all these good intentions and ideas that were already manifest, if you ask Marie Høpfner, Managing Director and the other Co-founder of Peaqs: 

‘You saw some universities making the case that having google-docs was blended learning or that the campus LMS was securing a blended or digital learning approach. And while an LMS can be great for facilitating administrative tasks it rarely touches on the heart of the matter in regards to learning. It doesn’t prescribe a method, system or approach to run a course, or design the way in which in students actually interact with the curriculum. 

During the talks we’ve had with countless university teachers about Peaqs we feel that they are really appreciating the difference in us providing a system that sort of bridges the gap between LMS and course design, and I feel that we, in particular with the new version release have managed to acchieve this bridging– and still keep the system flexible enough to work across different subjects. Though we designed it with entrepreneurship and product development in mind, the system can be used in most case-based teaching scenarios, regardless if the students have to develop a solution to given problem OR evaluate a set of already given scenarios.’

So, with an audience more keen on listening to new approaches and with a system that can facilitate blended or hybrid learning in it’s original sense, Peaqs seemed on a good track to success. However, when the lockdown came Artventure, the company behind Peaqs, quickly realized that apart from the opportunity to broaden Peaqs proliferation there was also good sense in using lockdown time, to double down on development efforts and re-launch the system. This set the team out on a three month intense design-, user-feedback-, feature-development-journey that in any type of normal situation should have taken 12-18 months. Peter Martin Holst concludes:

‘We’ve heard this story before from other companies: All of a sudden the speed of development and solution-making was increased manifold. Even for a small business such as ours that was not at all bureaucratic in the first place. 

Maybe the readers out there can reflect along with me on this point but I’m pretty sure that creativity and ingenuity feeds well on confinement and restrictions and that the lockdown presented us with all with an extreme case of changed conditions, that for some served as jet-fuel to arrive at new ways of working. It certainly did for us, but even though it was a hard process with many all-nighters we are so happy to be where we are today, and can present a new and updated version of Peaqs. 

And of course it doesn’t end here. Later this year we’ll start an AI project that will ultimately help us deliver personalised learning journeys to our users. This is next level stuff for us, and it will be a learning experience for our team as well.’    

Artventure released Peaqs 2.0 on Monday the 24th of August 2020. 

Peaqs is a system made for higher learning that allows teachers and faculty to create blended or hybrid learning experiences for their students. Peaqs is highly customizable and built to secure high levels of student engagement via elements of gamification, peer feedback and learning progress transparency. The system was launched in late 2018 and already a finalist at Nordic EdTech Awards 2019.

Peaqs was orginally designed for teaching entrepreneurship and doing business acelleration, however has since then seen applications in many other subjects across business schools and technical universities worldwide. At a later stage Peaqs will also find applications within Corporate L&D.

Research paper using Peaqs from Aalborg University

Published in: Vol 7 No 3 (2019): Special Issue: Teaching Business Models – Part 1 /Special Issue: Teaching Business Models

Jesper C. Sort Business Model Design Center, Aalborg University

Peter M. Holst Artventure, Copenhagen, Denmark

Using digital gamification in the Context of Business Models

Abstract

The use of blended learning to enhance motivation and learning by the students is a recent and increasingly important topic in teaching. This paper will give an example regarding how blended learning was implemented in an entrepreneurial course with business models as the primary structure.

https://journals.aau.dk/index.php/JOBM/article/view/2556

Key Insights

Introducing a blended learning platform, in this case PeaQs, was quite straightforward, and the students had virtually no issues with understanding and engaging in a digital learning and gamification platform. Furthermore, the students understood the relevance and found inter-est in the use of an online platform underpinning the strength of blended learning and gamification. This is in line with what research into blended learning suggests when describing the implementation of gamification as “promising” (Iosup and Epema, 2014). It is also worth mentioning the quality of discussions among the students propelled by the question of what information they should prioritize and upload into the system. They engaged in discussions regarding how to condense their ideas into, e.g. 150 characters. In other words, the ability to convey a problem, present their solution and the associated value proposition in a short and precise manner. Furthermore, as students dived into the development of their projects/business cases of their peers, a loop of reflection and inspiration took place, inclining them to improve and refine their projects. This showed signs of a higher degree of knowledge transfer (Siegel and Wright, 2015), increase in the quality of the projects (Li et al. 2010) and is furthermore in line with research showing positive learning outcomes of blended learning (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004).

Nordic Edtech Awards 2019

On November 8th 2019, the Peaqs team got the exciting news that we were nominated for the Nordic Edtech Awards 2019. Nordic Edtech Alliance, the creator of the Nordic Edtech Awards, is a partnership between the Edtech communities in the Nordic area. It includes Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland. The Nordic Edtech alliances aim to support and profile nordic edtech internationally with the nordic teaching traditions and values at the core.

With their third award show in 2019, they nominated Peaqs and invited us to the awards final in Helsinki as the Danish finalist. With our platform for teaching entrepreneurship, product development and business planning we were a strong competitor. Unfortunately, we didn’t win, we hope to be considered again next year and take home the prize!

Used in Higher Education across Denmark

Currently live at 3 out of 8 Danish universities in just one year of our beta-launch in the beginning of 2019. Our platform has been used for Bachelors, Masters and MBA courses. We take great pride in collaborating with some of Denmark’s best Universities and are excited to be the main platform partner for the Ignite program hosted by DTU Skylab. Skylab Ignite is a 10 week early stage startup accelerator program for students and researchers that helps to expand their entrepreneurial mindsets, to build their business cases and to overall strengthen their team. Peaqs has been the perfect tool to accomplish just that and to give the participants a real-world feeling.

Furthermore, after a successful implementation of Peaqs at Aalborg University, we co-authored a research paper with them on the subject of gamification.

Our innovative platform allows students and others to participate in a high level learning game, that combines an innovation- and product development process with a virtual stock market engine. This facilitates real-time valuation and peer feedback! We have engaged more than 400 students from 3 top Danish Universities.

Interview with SkyLab Accellerator

We had the pleasure of being a part of the DTU SkyLab Ignite program, that helps students develop their start-up businesses. After a successful program we were able to interview the project manager, Ben Cahill, about the course and his experiences.

Q: Hello and welcome. Please introduce yourself and your position.

A: My name is Ben. I am project manager and innovation officer at DTU Skylab, which is Denmark’s Technical University’s innovation center where we turn student ideas into viable business propositions.

Q: What is the SkyLab Ignite?

A: Skylab Ignite is a 10-week program for students where we have a focus on customer-driven innovation. The students are trained in pitching techniques, writing business propositions and getting their idea tightened up so they can present it to someone that may be willing to give them funding.

Q: Can you tell us how Peaqs integrates to the SkyLab Ignite program?

A: The phases of Peaqs correspond to the phases in the Ignite program and it represents each time the students develop more of their idea and add additional information to the Peaqs system. The gamification aspect opens up something new for us where we have a peer review system, which has until now not been the case. Normally in these programs the students’ projects are evaluated by a panel of experts and we think it gives a great deal of value to the student projects for them to be able to look at each other’s ideas and provide criticism and support to each other. From the perspective of the coordinators of the program, we use Peaqs to get a remote view into the students’ work and to see their progress from afar.

Q: What are the basic needs of an accelerator to become successful?

A: From the point of view of the coordinators of the program, Peaqs allows us to get a structured view of the students’ work. It allows us to put time boxing on phases and their deliveries and it allows the students to see each other’s work and really track each other’s progress. What we find is that the investment mechanism allows us to pool in other coaches and experts that are not necessarily a part of the program and get an insight in to what is actually happening on the program, without having to make a large time investment.

Q: How does the Peaqs Funnel play into this?

A: Typically in an acceleration process the students are very much into their own projects, and it becomes difficult for them to share information or to see the other participants’ projects, so we think that Peaqs really allows them to do that, and also gives them a motivation in terms of the gamification aspect, to go in and look at the others’ projects and to evaluate them.

Q: What is the advantage of using Peaqs?

A: Where we see entrepreneurship now and in the future is towards data driven products and services, and we think that having a digital platform with which they can share their ideas is a very strong component of this program. So one of the things that Peaqs allows for is to have a common and consolidated platform for pitching. That means that not every group will have a different PowerPoint presentation for example. They are all going to be pitching from the same source material. In the same way that the students are going through an innovation and iterative process we are also doing that, that is us that work at Skylab. So the thing is that it is very important for us to be able to evaluate data and to share data with other people around the students’ process.

Q: What is the next step for you?

A: Going forward we would very much like to gather data from our users about their process and performance. We think a system like Peaqs could allow us to do that by providing data, for example about the stock market performance of a given product.

Q: Why did you chose to incorporate Peaqs into your program?

A: We chose Peaqs for a couple of reasons. Number one is that it is itself an innovative product that comes from a start-up, so it is a very good way for us to show our students that here is an example of the real world start-up with a real product that can be deployed into a real scenario. We chose it because it is a way to consolidate all of the information from the student teams, and particularly because we think the gamification aspect of it gives an inspiration and a motivation for the students to actually engage with the platform.

Interview with Louise Harder, CBS Digital Entrepreneurship

At the CBS Digital Entrepreneurship course, Peaqs have become a part of their blending learning tools. It has been used widely by students and teachers. The co-teachers of this course, Louise Harder Fischer and Lars K. Andersen, sat down with us to answer some question about the integration of Peaqs in their course.

Q: Hi! Please introduce yourselves?

A: My name is Louise Harder Fischer. I am an Assistant Professor at CBS.

A: My name is Lars K. Andersen. I am an external lecturer here at CBS, teaching in Digital Entrepreneurship. I am co-teaching with Louise and basically introducing the students to the more practical elements of having a start-up.

Q: What is the Digital Entrepreneurship course?

A: Digital Entrepreneurship has been designed to be a very hands-on course, but also a course where students need to reflect upon the academic discipline of being an entrepreneur.

Q: What new elements has Peaqs added to this course?

A: Peaqs really went through the roof when I used it the last time. We had a session where the different groups were presenting their start-ups in a pitch-form, and when they did that we used the gamification element of Peaqs to make the different groups do investments after they had seen the pitch presentations. And it went really well because it showcased that there is a strong correlation between how you have pulled together the pitch and how much investors are willing to invest afterwards.

Q: How have you integrated Peaqs into your course and which processes have become, easier, better,  or more impactful?

A: Blended learning comes from primarily digital tools that we use in order to have students be more aware of how they progress in their learning process, but also how to be more transparent about their learning process, when we used the Peaqs platform that is specifically designed to drive an entrepreneurial process from ideation to completion. It is a platform the students used to be more explicit about their process and then share it with their co-students.

Q: Does the platform allow for any peer to peer assessment and how? Why is that important?

A: Getting students to very quickly become able to explain what it is they are doing. When you work in a group and you have to decide ‘what should we share with others?’ then it triggers important discussions. That is a good way to initiate groupwork as well as to reflect the entrepreneurial process.

Q: What were the students reaction towards using Peaqs?

A: Peaqs turned out to be an important platform for creating transparency about what students were actually working with because Peaqs asks for certain deliveries in a phase-like process. It also gave us teachers an opportunity to much better follow the students’ work. Usually the students’ products and projects are very invisible to us teachers.

Q: How did Peaqs play into the CBS blended learning agenda?

A: I think Peaqs is for the future. It is a helpful tool to get the students to learn from each other and to get the best possible interaction between the groups and us, the teachers, because we have the full overview of where they are in their process.

Press-release: Blended learning på AAU

Blended Learning på Aalborg Universitet – og navnet er Peaqs.

Alle taler om det. Få gør det. Og endnu færre gør det godt. Vi taler naturligvis om Blended Learning på universiteter og højere læreanstalter. Tidens store buzzword, der skal favne evnen til at mikse digitale værktøjer med face-to-face undervisning på en måde, hvor det højner engagement, læring og undervisningseffektivtet.

Det er ambitionen, men ofte ender det enten med stivnede begrebs-diskussioner, hvor didaktiske fronter trækkes hårdt op eller med vage praktiske implementeringer, hvor google-docs eller universitetets intra-net kåres som ‘blended’ i mangel på bedre kandidater.

På Aalborg Universitet har man på kandidatvalgfaget ‘New Venture Creation’ valgt en lidt anden tilgang. Her bruger man som de første i Danmark en ny digital platform, Peaqs, til at støtte de studerendes undervisning i iværksætteri, forretningsudvikling og innovation.

Peaqs er en digital platform, hvor de studerende i 4 faser – der spænder over konceptudvikling, markedsstrategi, produktudvikling og kommunikationsstrategi – arbejder sig fra forretningsidé til færdigt produkt og forretningsplan. Udviklingen foregår henover hele semestret, og allerede fra første færd uploades informationen på et virtuelt aktiemarked, hvor de studerende så kan handle med de andre studerendes gode idéer og produkter.

”Fordelen er her, at de studerende får en hurtig ‘markedsreaktion’ på deres produkter, og som investorer bliver de tvunget til at vurdere de andres produkter og processer. Det bidrager selvfølgelig til at opkvalificere sin egen tilgang og på den måde, skaber vi et positivt feedback loop mellem produktudvikling i grupper og individuel refleksion”, siger Adjunkt fra Institut for Økonomi og Ledelse på Aalborg Universitet, Jesper C. Sort, som er koordinator og medskaber af faget ‘New Venture Creation’. Han tilføjer:

”Det giver også mig, som underviser og vejleder, en mulighed for et løbende overblik over de studerendes produktudvikling og vurdere deres fremskridt. Deres proces er strømlinet efter 4 faser, så de er helt sammenlignelige, men systemet er samtidig så fleksibelt, at jeg bestemmer, hvornår de forskellige faser kan igangsættes, og hvilke overskrifter der skal knyttes til fasen, så det passer til det aktuelle pensum og begrebsverden”.

Peter Martin Holst fra Artventure, der er virksomheden bag Peaqs, er efter lang tid med udvikling og test begejstret for at se systemet ude i virkeligheden:

‘Det er helt utroligt at se engagementet fra de studerende; ikke alene i produktudviklingen, men også i investeringsprocessen, hvor vi ser en heftig aktivitet omkring de individuelle porteføljer, som jo altså pågår i tiden udenfor undervisningen og gruppearbejdet. Vi får altså de studerende koblet på undervisningen i en ekstra potens, når de vender tilbage til markedet hjemmefra, og som investorer går til de øvrige produkter med en kritisk vurdering. Det giver et unikt indblik i de øvrige studerendes arbejde og proces, som ikke tidligere var mulig.”

Peter Martin Holst fortsætter:
”Vi er super begejstrede, men måske knap så overraskede, for vi ved at sådanne gamification mekanismer virker, for vi har i mange år brugt lignende greb til at aktivere og engage erhvervspublikummet til workshops og konferencer. At det nu med Peaqs går op i en højere enhed i undervisningssammenhæng, og kaldes for blended learning, gør det kun ekstra spændende, for det er en ny verden for os. Af samme grund har vi også allieret os med en række kapaciteter på innovationsfeltet og i samarbejde udviklet en udførlig teaching note, der klæder undervisere på til at integrere værktøjet i deres undervisning.”

Peaqs udbydes til universiteter og højere læreanstalter og er efter lanceringen i 2018 allerede vel undervejs til også at vinde fodfæste udenfor landets grænser.

Just a few reasons to choose Peaqs

  • Easy interface, your game is up and running within minutes
  • Realtime stock market engine (instant feedback for students)
  • Products are listed as baseball cards for an easy overview
  • Explore products to assess student/group acchievements
  • Adapt templates to your curriculum/course litterature
  • Teaching notes and learning objective included
  • Inspiration catalogue for classroom activation and exam testing
  • No limit to number of students participating

Peaqs is an easy-to-use blended learning platform complete with teaching notes and flexible in-game templates that can be modified to reflect your curriculum. With very little effort you can transport your current teaching into a dynamic, market oriented learning game, where students act as group-entrepreneurs and individual investors alike.

You decide the pace of learning as a session of Peaqs can be comprised into a few days of intensive workshops or be spread out over the course of a semester with ample room for students to read and prepare. You simply apply the calendar-function so student assignments are released at the pace of your choosing.

Versatility & ease of use

Depending on the course PeaQs can permeate an entire semester with several class room sessions or form the basis of a few days of intense workshops. Making it the perfect versatile education tool that can accommodate anything from full-time students to short-termed intense MBA courses.

PeaQs is 100 % digital and requires no other technical equipment or proficiency than being able to access the internet during class. The platform is offered to faculties on a year-to-year subscription basis.

Get in touch with us and learn more about how PeaQs can provide value to your institution.

Approaches and types of learning Peaqs works with