Adopting the right educational technology can break down barriers to learning and create impact at scale:M. Shourie Chatterji, Digital Director, Schoolnet India
1. Edtech as a whole is more than just learning apps. Can you please expand on what edtech encompasses from an infrastructure perspective?
EdTech is more than just learning apps. Schoolnet has pioneered the use of technology in education since its inception in 1997, when we pioneered the problem of digital divide and low engagement in schools. EdTech encompasses both hardware and software, in terms of infrastructure, and also includes teacher training, skills development, digital literacy, and other softer elements. Digital classrooms that include projectors, computers, video conferencing, audio systems, multimedia and multi-sensory content, and analytics to track learner progress are also part of the EdTech sphere. Our patented device, K-Yan*, is a portable 6-in-1 educational device that combines all of these aspects in a single package. In addition, EdTech also includes custom learning solutions, software enabling text-to-speech and vice-versa, live teaching, distance learning, MOOCs and much more.
*KYAN: KYAN is the world’s first interactive, affordable and easy-to-use 6-in-one teaching-learning device. It is designed, developed and patented jointly by Schoolnet India Limited and IIT Bombay. It was commercialized in 2007 by Schoolnet and has now gone mainstream, achieving significant scale, reach and impact in education and training.
2. In a phygital learning environment, how are AI-powered products changing the face of classrooms in India?
AI/ML powered products can bring personalization to teaching and learning. Through a blended learning model, teachers can use technology to improve their classroom effectiveness and students can access high-quality digital learning materials and after-school assessments. Known as the “flipped classroom” method, students can do their learning at home and focus on conceptual clarification and higher-order skill development in the classroom. This not only provides a continuum of learning for students, but through tools such as intelligent instructional insights that lead to adaptive section, assessments, and assignment customization, it will provide teachers with detailed, real-time information. about each student and their areas of need. This will save the teacher time, allow for a more personalized teaching method and result in increased learning outcomes. It is a unique “phygital” (physical + digital) approach combining the benefits of traditional learning with online learning to create a blended ecosystem, which can drive adoption and personalization of education on a large scale through technology.
Based on the constructivist and mixed approach (a combination of the principles adopted by Piaget and Vygotsky), Schoolnet has developed a personalized learning application, Geneo. Geneo offers multimodal learning options to a child. It combines self-study with AI-assisted learning with virtual mentor support and live tutoring. Its differentiated learning strategy allows each student to learn on its unique guided learning journey combining four key elements – learning, application of concepts, review and assessments. A unique consumer-centric, AI-powered personalized learning platform, Geneo is available both in-school for the teacher and after-school for the students. Since its launch, we have integrated more than 0.8 million users on Geneo.
3. How has the digital learning landscape in India changed over the past two years?
The past two years have been extremely difficult for schools, teachers, parents and students. Most of the over 250 million students in India have not been exposed to distance learning through technology. While 30% of them may have been exposed to digital infrastructure within the classroom, with massive regional and socio-economic variation, this has rarely extended to home learning. It was a massive learning curve when teachers had to get up to speed on digital pedagogy, parents shelled out money to buy smartphones to avoid disruptions in student learning, and students had to get used to learning through an isolated screen. The opportunity that presented itself with it, however, propelled us as a country into a tech-savvy population. Additionally, the EdTech market has seen a huge boom with over $5 billion invested. In 2022, as schools began to reopen, the industry saw some market corrections. Schoolnet has always believed in the power of technology to democratize education, but we believe that the teacher and the school are at the center of the educational process. We believe in working with schools rather than in spite of them. The past two years have reinforced our resolve to create holistic digital classrooms in public schools and affordable private schools, which also include a teacher training program. Additionally, we have witnessed a huge demand to synchronize in-school and after-school learning to avoid disruptions. In 2018, we developed a personalized learning solution for students, Geneo, to maintain learning continuity after school. During the pandemic, we launched live lessons on the app to ensure students can receive any additional help needed, as well as expanded video conferencing on KYAN for teachers to conduct remote and blended learning.
Geneo, a flexible and affordable online learning platform, is available both in school and after school. Geneo uses the digitized version of the school textbook, coupled with a plethora of multi-sensory learning content to promote high engagement and application. It is supported by continuous assessments to help identify a child’s current learning state and provides a unique learning path (curated by an artificial intelligence algorithm) to reach the desired state. It also comes with supportive teachers/mentors, available through live lessons and chat. It is currently available for VI-X classes in English and Hindi for CBSE, and Bengali for West Bengal Board students.
4. What are the ways in which the digital divide that exists in rural India can be bridged?
Adopting the right educational technology can break down barriers to learning and create large-scale impact, especially for those at the middle and bottom of the economic pyramid. However, several challenges hinder the widespread adoption of EdTech:
- Digital divide with 70% of schools lacking digital infrastructure, including limited availability of multi-sensory and localized curriculum-aligned content.
- Lack of personal devices: more than 40% of schoolchildren do not have access to a smartphone
- Insufficient capacity of teachers in the adoption of digital pedagogy
- Absence of affordable Personalized and Adaptive Learning (PAL) solutions: most additional EdTech solution providers serve the top of the pyramid
The NEP 2020 and PM SHRI program point to a striking opportunity to equip schools with modern digital technologies to prepare them and their students for the future while bridging the growing digital divide. Our solution includes our patented “K-Yan” smart and versatile teaching device as well as Google Chromebooks as student-shareable learning devices, combined with multi-sensory content relevant to the school curriculum. It also comes with a teaching and learning management system with analytical teacher training and associated change management support services to drive adoption of ed-tech in schools. public and private affordable (APS). We have already established our presence in over 100,000 schools in India through such solutions.
In addition, families further increased their spending on further education to reach 41% of their total education spending. With more than 65% of families having a smartphone, the access problem is on the way to being solved. But the problem of quality and substandard learning outcomes remains. To improve a child’s learning outcomes, it is important to assess each learner’s current state, identify learning gaps, and provide a unique path to reach the desired state. Geneo addresses this concern through AI/ML, then creates a unique learning path for each student. Additionally, content is mapped to NCERT textbooks by chapter and page, allowing the student to stay connected to what they have studied in class.
5. How do you see technology evolving in education over the next few years?
Technology now has an indisputable role to play in education. We see it becoming more relevant and more democratized if it is integrated into the school ecosystem. Beyond all that we mentioned above – digital classrooms, multimedia and multi-sensory content, analytics, teacher training, device access, personalized and adaptive learning and remote learning, there are new technologies like the ‘AR/VR gaining popularity, Delhi government launched the first-ever virtual school, and blended learning is becoming the new norm. We’re also working to expand the reach of EdTech by developing media content and apps in vernacular languages aligned with state guidance, making it affordable, and incorporating elements of gamification as well as new skills like coding. NEP 2020 has given impetus to the integration of technology in education and various governments are keen to move forward. Portals like DIKSHA, e-Pathshala, G-Shala, etc. are under construction and now the PM SHRI schools have also been announced. We envision technology being used wisely to democratize quality education at scale, resulting in achieving grade-specific learning outcomes and maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of education. ‘education.