[Product Roadmap] How edtech startup WizKlub developed tech to enhance cognitive skills in children
After co-founding two edtech startups, Amit Bansal, Manohar Kashyap, Swarup Vijh, and Pramod N startedin 2018. The idea was to create maximum impact on students by skilling them on specific tools. The second-time entrepreneurs realised the core aptitude of a person is defined in the first 13-14 years, and they felt the current school system was not helping children develop these necessary skills.
The startup combines technology and research in cognitive learning to empower K-12 kids to get started on a skill. WizKlub uses a three-step model to engage students in higher-order thinking, process information at deep levels, make critical interpretations, draw relevant and insightful conclusions, and use their knowledge in other situations to solve new problems. Thus, the core part of the startup is product and technology.
The edtech startup has developed two flagship products - Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) program and SmartTech program to develop skills in children aged six to 14 years.
“We use the latest technology to make learning more effective and fun. The advances in conversational AI witnessed in products like Alexa are going to be instrumental in driving learning for this generation kids. WizKlub is investing heavily into these technologies and driving learning efficacy and learner engagement,” says Amit.
Making kids future-ready
The startup claims to be solving the fundamental problem of building necessary skills to help kids become future-ready. Amit explains that this generation of kids are going to see a very different workplace environment, and hence the skills required to succeed in the future are very different.
According to the World Economic Forum, some of the top skills required for the future include higher-order thinking skills (analytical thinking, active learning, complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity); self-management; and technology use and development.
“For this, WizKlub has structured programs to build these skills in students. Over 5,000 students have taken up WizKlub programs,” says Amit.
The product journey
The first version of the WizKlub learning app was launched in mid-2018. The development started in early 2018 and the beta version was launched in three months. The final product was launched three months later, in June 2018, after some product iterations.
According to the team, the core belief was that the learning efficacy needs to be technology-driven than instructor driven. Hence, from the MVP stage itself, tests were done to measure the learning efficacy of the product.
However, Amit says, “Post COVID-19, the delivery mechanism has changed from the neighbourhood driven classes to online classes, where students go through the experiential learning modules.”
Building the right tech stack
Each product usage cycle gave measurable insights on product features that would improve the learning efficacy and learner engagement. Amit believes if you build the right architecture, scalability is not an issue in today’s world.
“The beta stage was three months long. We took a conscious decision to not launch the product till the user feedback was satisfactory. It did cost us more time but it ensured a good quality first version of the product which customers were paying for. Usability enhancements were done post-launch,” says Amit.
When the team started working on the technology training product that involved elements of coding, hardware, and design, it realised it needed more tech than what was already available.
Amit says they used the appropriate tech stack to build the tech product line. “We have a customer user group that gives periodic feedback on the product. Apart from that, the product team takes input from support tickets and the regular user feedback,” he adds.
The initial tech stack was built on top of the stack of a tech partner with an LMS solution the in-house team had built over a period of time.
Building flagship products
Over the last two years, the startup has developed several technology programs to skill children. These programs allow young kids to experience the complete tech product development lifecycle - design, hardware, and coding the hardware. They also help kids build complete tech products such as smart lighting and smart surveillance systems while going through the structured program.
WizKlub’s HOTS program is designed to achieve cognitive skills with critical thinking, logical reasoning, and problem-solving. It ensures that every child is a smart reader and a smart problem solver.
The SmartTech program helps children as young as six years to build and code technology. Every month, the child builds and codes a tech product such as a smart light, gesture-based remote control, chatbots, etc. The program aims to build skills and confidence in children to create tech products with coding, robotics, smart devices, and problem-solving.
Amit explains that some of the learnings in the initial phase were centered around usability and stability. Users were using features that we did not anticipate, and in some cases using it in a manner that we did not anticipate.
“There were some eureka moments where we could simplify the workflow by simply bringing a tile on the home screen,” he adds.
However, one of the challenges is when you work with multiple systems - some are off the shelf and some home-grown. For instance, working with an external CRM system and another call centre solution was a challenge.
But Amit says the biggest challenge of working in such an environment is ensuring a single view of customers across the lifecycle. It takes effort to get a single view of a customer’s journey from a visitor to the site to a repeat customer when multiple systems are involved.
"We discovered the advances in the world of AI, especially conversational AI, that we are really excited about. We believe this generation kids will witness a paradigm shift in learning and we will see efficacious solutions in the coming year itself. We believe that the role of teacher is going to fundamentally change from being a delivery agent to that of a facilitator. We are witnessing consumer behaviour shifts that are conducive to this shift,” says Amit.
According to a report by KPMG and Google, the online education market is expected to cross $2 billion by 2022 and $4 billion by 2025.
Speaking about their future plans, Amit says,
“We fundamentally believe that technology is the answer to solve the problem of access and the quality of education. While on one front we continue to do more research on the content side to ensure our programs deliver high learning efficacy and learner engagement, on the other side, our tech R&D team works on mapping advances in technology that help us deliver these programs at scale with higher quality and lower cost.”
“We are looking at scaling to over 100,000 students in the coming year and ensuring that programs are made available to students at different price points,” says Amit.