Swinburne-supported startup lifting writing skills of primary students

Tuesday 10 September 2019

Samantha and David Nicolaides are sitting at a desk looking at a laptop in an office

Samantha and David Nicolaides are utilising the Innovation Precinct’s Accelerator Program facilities to expand their startup

In summary

  • Husband and wife duo David and Samantha Nicolaides have developed Scriibi, an online educational tool
  • Scriibi supports primary school teachers to develop their students’ written communication skills
  • David and Samantha are one of four startups selected for the 2019 Swinburne Innovation Precinct Accelerator Program

Husband and wife startup duo David and Samantha Nicolaides have created and developed Scriibi, an online tool to support primary school teachers to develop their students’ written communication skills.

Scriibi is one of four startups selected for the 2019 Swinburne Innovation Precinct Accelerator Program.

As part of the program, David and Samantha received $30,000 in seed funding, a co-working space in Swinburne’s Innovation Precinct and expert mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs to help them find their product-market and scale their venture.

"We’re so lucky to be part of the Accelerator program. The working space is fully-equipped, and the mentoring has been amazing. We’re enjoying learning from mentors with deep industry expertise, and taking part in workshops run by facilitators with extensive experience," says David.

A before and after chart that shows students progressing with their writing skills

The before and after graph shows the improvement of students with green indicating competency

Helping students reach their full writing potential

Samantha was a teacher for over 10 years in Melbourne’s south-east when she felt compelled to do something about the poor student writing outcomes she was seeing.

"I would have many conversations with other teachers about how there are online maths and reading resources and tools but there wasn’t one for writing – at least nothing that encompassed all aspects," she says.

Samantha began by running writing workshops for students at her home on weekends. She was soon approached by several Principals to implement something similar in their schools.

With David, she began developing Scriibi, the Australian-first all-encompassing online writing tool, using evidence-based best teaching and learning practices.

"We developed our tools in classrooms with teachers, who as a result were able to improve their capability as writing instructors and assessors and aim lessons at their students’ exact points of need," Samantha says.

"Each Scriibi lesson follows a model of instruction which gives every student the opportunity to practice new skills and receive feedback or additional support."

How does Scriibi work?

David designed the technology behind the online tool, skills he developed as a product development engineer at Holden and through his Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Swinburne. He says Scriibi helps teachers at all stages of the teaching journey.  

"Firstly, a teacher uses Scriibi’s assessment tools to assess their students' writing skills. Scriibi then identifies the areas each student needs to focus on and provides teachers with targeted lessons. Students also receive an individual learning goal," David says.

"Points are mapped on a line graph and shows how a student is improving across various writing skills and where they sit along a continuum of learning."

"All this data helps teachers with lesson planning and saves them time. For every 10 hours of teaching, they might spend two of those on manual evaluation of work. The data from Scriibi means we can put those two hours back into teaching."

"Most importantly, every student’s learning is visible and they are developing at their point of need."

David and Samantha were also finalists in 2018 for Scriibi in Swinburne’s Venture Cup, which is a pitch competition open to early-stage ventures that are pre-investor funded.