This veteran educator’s startup uses gamified and experiential learning to teach AI in CBSE schools
In the last one year, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has upped the ante on introducing Artificial Intelligence (AI) courses in the school curriculum.
At the start of the 2020-21 academic year, CBSE partnered with IBM to build an AI programme for Class 11 and 12 students across 200 schools in India.
“AI will certainly become all-pervasive in our lives in the coming years and it is important to inculcate the necessary skills and knowledge right from high school level,” Manoj Ahuja, Chairperson of CBSE, was quoted as saying.
In April 2021, CBSE went a step ahead. It announced an online training programme for AI teachers under ‘The Global Teachers Academy for Digital Technologies’ initiative.
“As part of the programme, the academy aims to create a group of AI teachers and mentors from CBSE-affiliated schools who can catalyse AI education in schools and create technology practitioners at the school level,” it stated.
Edufiq founders Swati Ganguly and Osborne Dsouza
Given the increasingly conducive environment for AI teaching in schools, Swati Ganguly — an educator for 25 years — founded Edufiq to make the most of it.
Edufiq is a Delhi-based edtech startup that imparts AI education through game-based and experiential learning. Its courseware is targeted at public and private K-12 schools, and is designed for kids from Classes 5-10. (Senior school programmes are also in the works.)
Co-founder and Director Swati tells YourStory, “India’s education system is totally skewed. What we teach in schools and what students need in their jobs are not mapped. The 21st century learner has to be groomed and made job-ready to compete with global standards. So, we wanted to take up something that could bridge the gap between education and the workplace.”
Edufiq was incorporated in January, and its learning platform went live in March.
Gamified and experiential learning
Edufiq's pedagogy is aimed at making learning more engaging, collaborative, and outcome-driven in order to make students job-ready.
The learning programme is divided into two modules: 1) a game-based blended learning course that promotes creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving skills in kids for Classes 5-7, and 2) a state-of-the-art experiential learning kit aimed at enhancing logical thinking and problem-solving skills in students from Classes 8-10.
Edufiq is targeting to reach 25,000 K-12 students in the first phase of expansion
Osborne Dsouza, Co-Founder and Director, Edufiq, elaborates,
“Our focus is on the method of teaching. We give students the environment to find their element. In the gamified programme, we introduce them to the concepts and fundamentals of AI. The courseware is designed to show the problems that exist in our world today, and how AI can solve them. They learn while playing a game in a 3D immersive environment like Minecraft.”
The experiential module is aided by the trademark Microprocessor Kit developed by Edufiq. All of the platform’s content is mapped to the Indian Society for Technical Education and Computer Science Teachers Association standards.
Business model and growth plans
Edufiq has a two-pronged business model – B2C and B2B2C.
The first is a straightforward subscription-driven offering where parents can enrol their kids on the Edufiq platform. The programme is imparted through live online classes (three per week); each class has a maximum of six students per instructor. There are 40 classes in the course, and each class is priced at Rs 350 per hour.
The B2B2C model involves partnerships with schools and introducing AI as a skill subject in the curriculum. Edufiq claims 2,800+ students have already enrolled for its course through online bootcamps. The startup is yet to start generating revenues. “We also focus on children with learning difficulties, and plan to build a community for all students to share their AI projects,” says the co-founder.
The startup has partnered with 12 schools, and is planning to double that by the end of the year. Edufiq’s first phase of expansion will cover 25,000 students in CBSE schools across Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi-NCR, and Punjab.
It has roped in instructional designers and senior educators to develop its courseware. Edufiq is funded by undisclosed investors, and is also looking to raise further capital to ramp up its 30-member team and expand to other geographies. “But, we want to go slow to help students learn correctly,” Swati says.
She adds, “The biggest challenge is to expand the network and make people aware [of AI education]. Earlier, devices used to be a challenge, but the pandemic has ensured that every family now has at least one smartphone.”
The global AI in education market is estimated to be worth $3.68 billion by 2023
The AI in education landscape
Edufiq is optimistic about the future of AI training in schools. Not only does India have a massive K-12 population (265 million+), but also there’s increased government focus (NEP 2020) on technical education at the school level.
Add to that, there is an increasing demand for futuristic skills in workplaces. A 2019 survey by edtech startup Great Learning found that ‘Design thinking’ and ‘Artificial Intelligence’ were the top skills that industries look for while recruiting candidates.
Besides Edufiq, several other startups are populating the ‘AI for kids’ segment. These include DcodeAI, Udemy (ML for Kids and Beginners), STEMpedia, Codevidhya, RoboGenius, YoungWonks, AI School of India (AISI), and several others.
Globally, the AI in education market is projected to be worth $3.68 billion by 2023, having grown at 47 percent since 2018, according to MarketsAndMarkets.
Hence, growth opportunities abound.
Swati sums up by saying, “AI will become a mainstream subject in India because of the government’s and CBSE’s increasing focus on AI integration in schools.”