Ansrsource, based out of Texas and Bengaluru, creates learning and content modules that are designed according to the needs and requirements of institutions.
“Educational institutes aren’t hardwired into what is necessary. In many cases, when you learn something in college, by the time you finish your course, the skills aren’t useful for job training,” said LinkedIn’s Co-founder Allen Blue. Rajiv D. Narayana, President and CEO of ansrsouce, however, believes that the problem in pedagogy that needs solving is the way the content is designed and dedicated.
So, over the past 13 years, ansrsource, from a developer of textbook assets, has grown into a dynamic learning design and development organisation. It focuses on providing comprehensive multi-disciplinary academic project, content development, and content services to higher education and training institutes. The platform follows a full-service academic editorial vendor model.
Understanding the market
Speaking on how he started up, Rajiv says,
“Online learning and digital learning has changed the way we look at the world and education. When I was studying, finding information was a major hassle; today, everything is available at the click of a button. At that time, there was a major gap between what was available in the classroom textbook and what was really needed, and that is how we started out, aiming to bridge that gap.”
Having been in the field of journalism and donned the hats of writer, designer, and editor, Rajiv has worked with the likes of Bloomberg and understands the need for getting the right information and content. This is how he decided to start ansrsource.
The initial challenge that the team faced was in getting institutions to partner with them. “We were looking to change the way education and institutions worked, and every time you look at changing something, it takes time and continuous patience,” says Rajiv.
The gaps in the space
Today, the edtech industry has transformed, and so, the ansrsource product too has had to change over time. Rajiv adds that with each product, there has been an evolution through adding different aspects as per the client and customer requirements. Since the operational norms of the learning companies were being challenged, ansrsource evolved its product at each stage to suit their needs and requirements.
When the team started with their textbook module, they found that while several institutes used the modules, what was exactly needed for skill development was very different. “It is something all of us have faced. What we learn in school is different from what is needed on the job. It is one of the biggest gaps, and educational content needs to address that, especially soft skills,” adds Rajiv.
Workings and module
Currently, ansrsource is even working to change the way edtech companies work, by building their own accelerator.
Citing an example of how their product currently works, the team states that the University of Wisconsin—Extension, Continuing Education, Outreach and E-Learning (CEOEL) is releasing a series of training modules focused on communication competencies vital across virtually every sector of the workforce.
The first area of focus is soft skills in the workplace, and in particular, active listening skills. The module will combine a unique assessment tool that will enable the user to identify both positive and negative active listening skills in real time, with relevant content to support the development of knowledge and skills in active listening.
In order to ensure an authentic learning and assessment experience, the university needed a series of short video scenarios of workplace interactions, specifically in a meeting setting, where active listening is the focal point. CEOEL turned to ansrsource to play a lead role in developing these video scenarios.
Many of the design and development responsibilities fell on ansrsource. They included:
- Co-ordinating acting auditions, hire and direct actors, and film various meeting scenarios.
- Working with subject matter experts to develop scenario case studies around active listening and other competencies related to soft skills in the workplace (such as speaking, persuasion, or other possible competencies).
- Generating scripts for various workplace meeting scenarios.
- Generating measurable competencies in active listening.
- Identifying and timestamping both positive and negative active listening skills in real-time.
For 2013, when ansrsource started with the content and learning design modules, the company claims to have seen a 31 percent revenue growth. Subsequently, in 2014, it saw a 77 percent growth, and a 12 percent growth in 2015. This year, it is looking at a 10 percent growth. In 2015, the company raised a funding of $9 million in a round led by Accel Venture Partners.
A mismatch between what’s needed and what’s taught
A LinkedIn research paper, in fact, suggests that 80 percent of engineering graduates are not only unemployed but are unemployable according to corporates, as they do not have the right skillset. Taking note of this skill gap, several platforms like Coursera, edX, and Udacity have come up in the space of online learning, and each has gathered a fair following.
There is also salesforce training-focused WAGmob, which was recently acquired by EduCast. Ronnie Screvwala and Mayank Kumar have started UpGrad, which focuses on skills training and follows a similar industry mentorship model. There are also GreatLearning and Simplilearn.
The team at ansrsource stands firm in their aim to change the way learning modules are made and developed in institutions.