Brick-and-mortar to digital: Aakash’s move with eLearning portal iConnect
Aakash Educational Services Pvt Ltd which was started in 1988, today has a network of more than 100 centres across India, an annual student base of more than 85,000 every year, and has created a legacy in the entire coaching arena. And now it is moving ahead to giving a full-fledged and customized e-learning platform.
Aakash iConnect, which was launched in May end earlier this year, offers wide variety of packages that one can choose according to their preference.
The portal has been getting an overwhelming response from students, parents and teachers community.
For students, iConnect provides access to Aakash’s video lectures, study materials and tests online. It is targeted at class XI & XII students aspiring for Medical and Engineering entrance exams as well as class VIII, IX & X students for their school/board exams besides junior level competitive exams like NTSE, KVPY, JSTSE, Olympiads etc.
The portal has several features to enhance students’ learning experience like Doubt Resolution by Experts, Performance Dashboard, Course Map, Notifications and more. Upcoming features include discussion forum, content enrichment and task manager. Aakash has worked along with its technology partner, TriByte Technologies, a cloud-based interactive learning solution from Bangalore.
Aakash iConnect also gives students a flexibility to choose what they want – they can buy the complete course or just a subject or a chapter of their choice. Chapters are available at price starting from Rs 99 and packages price start from Rs 10,999.
Aakash iConnect is also set to be launched on Google Play and App Store to further empower students to learn on the go.
YourStory got in touch with the founder to know about the developments at Aakash and the future plans.
Q: How has the exam training landscape evolved over the past 15 years?
Exam training has evolved to become a sizable niche in Education industry in India. Emergence of some big brands and on the other hand cropping up of huge number of small and ultra small players are shaping the topology of the industry.
One more thing which is changing the landscape is digital revolution – it is good to see several startup jumping in the arena of test prep and providing innovative products and solutions.
Obviously, the reason behind this is – exponentially increasing demand as the student base grows. While in 1999 only around 1-2 lacs students appeared for IIT-JEE, the number has grown to over a million students writing the JEE exam today. Similar trend has been observed in other entrance exams too.
A not so positive outcome of this rapid evolution has been surfacing of some players who are looking at this as a ‘money minting business’ and are not true to the mission of imparting the right training to the young minds to build their careers.
Q: When did Aakash realize the need to look at the digital medium seriously?
Being the pioneer in this field, we always remain ahead of the curve.
We went digital way back in 2008 when we first launched our basic online assessment tool, followed by a DVD based learning program in 2009. This was followed by the launch of a series of online testing platforms to enable students to give tests online from the comforts of their homes and get detailed analysis through click of a button.
With success of online testing platform, Aakash launched yet another path breaking product called Aakash iTutor, where in it gave the students the power to access our top quality lectures and content in a proprietary tablet, allowing students to access content on tablet in an offline mode. With the huge success of Aakash iTutor, we went ahead with our progression and have now launched Aakash iConnect, which by far has been its most advanced product, where in it helps students break through the limitations of devices, high devices costs, anytime accessibility etc.
We already have a series of digital products and tools ready to be launched very soon – all these will complement each other and provide a ‘never seen before’ learning experience to the students.
Q: What do you think of smaller players gaining big traction in the digital space?
It’s a healthy sign for the industry. Smaller players and startups, with their agility and nimbleness, bring innovation to the system. Technology penetration in this space is still at a nascent stage and what we are seeing today is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a need and space for many more such young startup to push the boundary and create innovative products and solutions.
We are observing this space very closely and are open to partner with the right players.
Q: Do you think traditional classrooms will cease to exist?
Traditional classroom, the way we have been seeing for last few decades is bound to get transformed. I think a good classroom program has their own set of unique advantages and infusion of technology in classroom will take it notches higher. Those who fail to acknowledge and adapt themselves to the digital revolution will become the “Kodak” of this industry.
Having said that, classroom programs are not going to be replaced by “digital classes” in foreseeable future and it’ll rather be a indispensible extension/complement of classroom education.
Q: What will Aakash look like 5 years from now?
In 5 years from now, what will not change is our hunger for innovation and our passion for assisting students in realizing their dreams!
Our vision is to bring high quality education to the farthest corner of the country – basically, boundaries and constrains of accessibility and affordability should not come between a deserving student and her dreams. In order to achieve this vision, we’ll be leveraging technology in all the forms – web, mobile, tablet, voice etc.
As a pioneer in the industry, our cutting edge practices, products and services would transform not just Aakash, but also the whole industry.