Natalia Lymonova, Founder & CEO, GIOS, Ukraine

Natalia Lymonova is the Founder & CEO of GIOS, co-founder of Digital Future of Education PO, and a board member of WBAF Global Startup Committee.


Playmath: An Education Project That Helps Middle And High School Students Learn Math Efficiently 

In the face of the 2022 full-scale invasion, the Ukrainian people were left reeling and uncertain. Yet, even in the midst of chaos and turmoil, they bonded together to adapt and push forward with their daily lives. Unfortunately, the war has had a profound impact on the lives of both adults and, most sadly, children, disrupting every facet of their existence, including education.

Despite the sudden upheaval, the education system valiantly sought to pivot and adjust to the new reality. This was made possible by the prior success of the industry in creating a remote style of teaching during the global Coronavirus pandemic, as it is quite expected.

However, the constant movement of parents and children within the war-torn territory, coupled with the air raid sirens and shelling of major cities, has wrought havoc on the learning process. Nonetheless, with the help of various institutions, Ukrainian students keep on excelling. 

As the trend for remote and hybrid education just goes on developing — Ukraine, always keen on innovation, took a trend by storm introducing new ways to engage younger generations and offer them the education they deserve. Of course, many state initiatives were introduced that aimed to support children in occupied territories and give them a chance to continue their education. 

Creativity and innovation resiliently found their way even in war.

Among other initiatives, In February 2023, a year after the war started, GIOS (Global Innovative Online School), with the help of The Ukrainian Startup Fund, the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, the Ministry of Digital Transformation, and the Diia.Digital Education, commenced PlayMath – an innovative project that helps students learn math with the help of an interactive website and fun video materials free of charge. The aim of the project was to support students during this challenging time by providing access to quality math education online. By doing so, the platform is helping to bridge the gap caused by the disruptions to traditional schooling and ensuring that students can continue to learn and grow despite the difficult circumstances. Numerous researchers and teachers have collaborated on the platform and made it up to date, using the latest data in schoolchildren research to enhance the experience. In today’s digital age, attention spans have dwindled to a mere 8 seconds, making it all the more challenging to keep young learners engaged. However, the community has risen to the challenge, leveraging cutting-edge technologies and innovative tools to keep students’ focus sharp and motivated. Through their relentless pursuit of excellence, they have succeeded in delivering a truly immersive and rewarding learning experience.

For example, the PlayMath project has helped engage thousands of students in learning mathematics in an engaging and accessible way. The results are impressive, and the methodology implemented has proven to be effective. In total, more than 21,000 students joined the project, including those from occupied territories, and students from all over Ukraine and abroad took part in PlayMath and enhanced their learning process.

At the beginning and end of the project, the participants passed a test to track their progress. According to the testing results, the participants’ average success rate increased by 21.5%. The best result was shown by students in 9th grade, with their understanding of the material increasing by 53% during the course of the project. The teaching methods were engaging and accessible, and all the classes and topics were taught with the help of short interactive videos. The videos were stopped at certain points in time and asked relevant questions about the material, and then a series of questions and tasks that the students had to complete. In case a student got an answer wrong, the platform offered an alternative task for them to try again.

I remembered the approach and structure of the video. The Meerkat, as he explains the material in the videos. And I also liked the reference diagrams for each topic, I even used them in my test”, – shares a 9th grader, Alina.

The platform has been a resounding success among schoolchildren, eliciting positive feedback and rave reviews from students. They have lauded these learning tools for their engaging and interactive format, which has helped children better understand the subject matter and improve academic performance. Cutting-edge teaching techniques and interactive interface have made learning easier and more productive, resulting in enhanced learning outcomes. Students can now master complex concepts with ease and gain newfound confidence in their abilities.

Sadly, the psychological toll on children has further compounded the issue, resulting in a decline in the quality of teaching. 

However, despite these challenges, dedicated researchers and teachers have banded together to transform the educational landscape of Ukraine. Their tireless efforts have resulted in the development of a robust and resilient platform that adapts to the new reality and provides hope for a brighter future. In the face of adversity, they remain committed to ensuring that the nation’s youth have access to quality education that will equip them with the skills and knowledge necessary to lead the country towards a better tomorrow. 

After all, even during the darkest times, it is through the power of learning that a nation can rise and thrive, knowing that its young and curious minds will one day shape its destiny.

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