As 2021 draws to a close, we’re reflecting on a busy, challenging, and rewarding year at Buttercup Learning.
We’ve more than doubled in size, as we welcomed three Kickstarter employees to our core team: James Shoemark-Smith, our Junior Web Developer, Hester Heeler-Frood, our Content Marketing Assistant, and Rishal Patel, our Virtual Assistant and Videographer.
Our personal 2021 highlights include:
• Completing the Loop growth programme for tech startups in South West of England.
• Being nominated in two TechRound categories: ed-tech companies, and sustainable tech companies in the UK.
As part of our year-in-review, we took the opportunity to talk to our Founder, Rachel Mills, about what augmented reality means to her, its impact on education, and where she sees Buttercup heading in the next 12 months and beyond.
What is Augmented Reality?
Augmented reality is all about adding a layer of perception to a learning experience. Whether it’s a pop-up book, a poster, or a board game, augmented reality brings something extra – like a fantastical creature or an interactive element. It enhances what’s already there. It gives you another means to engage with the subject. It’s a bridge to another world above our heads or beneath our feet, which the whole family or classroom can feel part of.
People often think that Buttercup’s product is augmented reality. That’s not the case. We deliberately create beautifully illustrated posters and books that children love with and without the additional available content. Our actual product is the immersive, social experience that comes first from our posters, enhanced by the rich, augmented reality content. It’s the imaginations sparked in our children, their curiosity, thirst for knowledge, and the subsequent conversations about our natural world. The friendships that develop through a shared interest in outdoor learning, sustainability, and conservation are particularly important – an opportunity for change, right before our eyes. Augmented reality can create communities around sustainability in a way we’ve not seen before. And that’s where we’re headed next in our Buttercup adventure.
An E-Learning Platform and Members Community
Coming from a teaching background, an e-learning platform was always the logical next step for Buttercup, and I’m delighted that it’s in the pipeline for 2022. It’s the golden thread that pulls the whole business together, building on the learning elements within our nature posters and phonics products in development.
A Purpose-Led Learning Platform
Buttercup is the very definition of a purpose-oriented business. Our goal for our learning and membership community is to create a learning environment that’s versatile and promotes longevity in a market where tools and materials to support children’s learning are very disposable. It’s something that we, and our customers, feel passionate about and connects us to our overarching values of sustainability.
We work towards creating a better future in all we do. Our business model, supply chain, and tech are all built on sustainable practices, environmental efficiency, and charitable giving. Our learning platform and membership community will be no different: sustainably pursuing excellence, inclusivity, and exploration.
Learning That Focuses on Exploration and Discovery
A lot of learning apps, websites, and tools on the market get caught up with the idea of testing and rewarding a child’s performance, not their engagement in the process of learning.
For a lot of children out there – mine included – this formula doesn’t work. The reward becomes a distraction. Children get so caught up in the idea of passing or failing, and whether or not they’ll win their reward, that they’re unable to engage with the materials in a meaningful way, leaving them feeling frustrated, disappointed, and disengaged.
For children, play is learning. A more encouraging, kinder approach is to create a system of learning that works for all children – not only those who engage positively with a system of reward.
Our learning platform promotes progress over performance, with exploration, discovery, and confidence as its primary goals.
A Space For Home Educators and the Conservation-Curious
Rather than the National Curriculum, our seasonal learning pathways follow the guidance from the National Curriculum Outdoors’ books and map against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The key for me with all things Buttercup is creating an educational, safe, inclusive space with something for everyone. Families come in all shapes and sizes, so the space we create should too.
It’s our promise that our learning environment caters equally to the needs of the stay-at-home Dad in rural Wales, home-schooling his twin sons, and the Grandma in Manchester looking for outdoor holiday activities for her granddaughter.
The crucial factor is that it’s a place for all adults caring for children who want to get outdoors, teach their children about sustainability and conservation, and invest in their natural education. Wherever people sit on that spectrum of full-time home education, to day time dabbling in sustainability subjects – there will be something to suit your family’s needs, wants, and outdoor aspirations.
A Place Where Parents and Children Learn Together
At Buttercup, we often talk about the idea of lifelong learning. A natural extension of that is offering learning suitable for parents, carers, and children alike.
As well as children’s learning, we’re building adult short courses specifically for those who are home educating their children on sustainability subjects. There will be courses on complex topics like carbon literacy to enhance your ability to support your child’s learning.
Calling UK home-educators
At Buttercup, our approach is to be conscious, considered, and honest in all we do. So, we’re building the learning platform home educators want and need – based on your expert insights and experiences.
Are you a UK home educator with 20 minutes to spare? Please talk to us about your needs and desires for our new learning platform. Please get in touch today. Drop Rachel an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In these times of change and environmental uncertainty, the power of community is more important than ever. Let’s invest in our children’s environmental education and work together to leave a legacy that we’re proud of for future generations.