Brickfield Education Labs, an Irish tech company aiming to improve the quality of online education, plans to hire 25 people in the coming years after raising nearly €500,000 during the pandemic.
Founded in 2019 by Gavin Henrick and Karen Holland, a couple with decades of experience in software development and educational technology, Brickfield is a certified partner of Moodle, the world’s most-used learning management system.
It works with companies and institutions that use Moodle’s virtual learning platform and offers solutions to the issues they face when it comes to ensuring their courses are delivered in a way that is accessible.
The company counts Dublin City University (DCU) among its clients, and will begin a full rollout of its product at the university in September.
The software provided by Brickfield examines the learning system used by institutions and analyses their teaching content to check for problems with accessibility.
“It’s supporting the teacher,” Henrick said. “It’s not just saying: ‘Here’s a lot of problems.’ It’s actually helping them to fix those problems.”
In DCU, for instance, lecturers will be able to analyse their course using Brickfield’s software to easily find and fix any accessibility issues. In cases where a whole paragraph is capitalised in a presentation, or where the lecturer has forgotten to add alternate text to an image, Brickfield’s platform will solve the issue.
Henrick, who worked with Moodle for more than a decade before establishing Brickfield with Holland, said the couple started the company after spotting an opportunity to help those working with Moodle improve their digital education services.
“Both of us are very focused on equality in education, and quality in education,” he said, explaining that for people with disabilities, the design and layout of a presentation can make a difference to its accessibility.
At a conference hosted by the company last month, focused on accessible content for Moodle, one of the students in attendance made a point that stuck with Henrick.
“They said that if a system works well, the student should forget they have a disability.
“You want to not be reminding someone that they have a disability. The system should be working well for everyone.”
This is what Brickfield aims to do.
Last October, the company closed a funding round worth €485,000, which has allowed the firm to get its product to a place where it works “really well”, Henrick said. The investment consisted of €200,000 from Enterprise Ireland and €285,000 from a pair of investment firms."
While the company was establishing itself within the online learning space before the pandemic, the increased awareness of digital learning means it is well positioned to expand globally in the coming years.
It plans to sell to established Moodle partners worldwide, most of which already provide support to a number of companies that use the software. This will make it easier for Brickfield to grow without having to seek out organisations by itself.
“Many Moodle partners already look after a few hundred clients – universities or companies or NGOs. We’re going to partner with them so then they’ll be able to resell into that market and we don’t have to.”
Brickfield is aiming to grow its workforce to 25 by 2023 and is planning a Series A funding round in the same period.
“We want to grow further ourselves – to be more direct, more international and offer more breadth in our products,” Henrick said.