Not too long ago, Dr. Leo Evans, co-founder of Bitpaper, was a financial engineer with a Ph.D. in Finance, working at JP Morgan in London. Despite spending many years to achieve those goals, in 2013, he left it all behind. “I was out of a job, living on a beach and trying to work out what to do with the rest of my life; a bit of an existential crisis,” said Evans.
Out of the ashes of that existential crisis, rose several entrepreneurial ventures in education and online tutoring, most notably Bitpaper. Leo’s journey began through the creation of a tutoring “agency” called The Profs that matched students with teachers in-person in the London area. Nowadays it has a more global focus. Bitpaper was created originally as a tool for his tutors to move to an online model that allowed them to tutor from anywhere and virtually share their academic expertise with students anywhere in the world via the internet. Having grown beyond their 1000 tutors, Bitpaper currently has 100,000 active users predominantly from the U.S. (~40%), the U.K. ( ~40%), and Canada ( ~15%).
The Benefits of Online Learning and Tutoring
Although Evans, himself, initially questioned the efficacy of online teaching and learning, after years spent honing the Bitpaper model, his team has determined multiple benefits of the online learning paradigm for both teachers and students. For instance, students have access to much more specialized learning content and many more tutors and enjoy the interactivity of classes more.
Bitpaper allows students to save class content such as PDFs and to record videos of classes. They are also able to easily reschedule and participate in classes outside of traditional “school” hours.
For tutors, Bitpaper allows them to teach from the comfort of their homes and work during the hours most convenient to them. In addition, Bitpaper provides teachers with cutting-edge technology to offer high-quality, reusable teaching materials. That’s where the Vonage Video API comes in.
Communication Between Students and Teachers via Vonage Video API
As Leo’s tutoring companies grew, they realized that they needed technology that allowed tutors and students to write and draw collaboratively in a shared application. After testing out various whiteboard technologies, Bitpaper ended up being their own “whiteboard in a browser." It allows teachers and students to share a URL, use digital pens, write together, drag and drop content, create PDFs, and more. What was needed to complete the whiteboard collaboration was a reliable, scalable way for participants to see and speak with each other. Said Evans, “It's a content creation tool with the audio-video built-in and Vonage Video API provides that perfect complement to the whiteboard.” Now Bitpaper has Audio, Video, Screensharing and chat built-into it.
“At first we used a competitor,” said Evans. “They shall remain nameless, but they were rubbish compared to Vonage. We worked with that company for about a year and a half and it was an unmitigated disaster. We were starting to get a reputation for having horrible audio-video because of it. We needed to do something to fix the situation.”
After some research, Bitpaper decided to upgrade to what was considered the market leader for video at the time. That was TokBox and soon after, TokBox became the Vonage Video API. Fast forward three years; Bitpaper is now a commercially viable venture and Evans is very confident in their application’s video component.