CXO Diaries episode 5: Virtual schools can either be a school replacement or supplement, say experts

What could be the next big innovation in edtech that would benefit educators, students, and businesses alike? Experts delve deeper into the thought and share valuable insights in the fifth episode of CXO Diaries, hosted by NxtGen and VMware in association with YourStory.
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Edtech brings to students a host of options for interactive learning, as most educational institutions adopt a hybrid approach to learning. But innovation is a never-ending process. So, what more could be thought next in the line to bridge the gap in learning, while inspiring the next-gen with tech blended academics?

To discuss and share valuable insights, the fifth episode of CXO Diaries, hosted by NxtGen and VMware in association with YourStory, roped in some of the prominent names from the edtech domain including Ranjan Sakalley, CTO and the head of engineering at Vedantu; Kounal Gupta, Founder and CEO, Henry Harvin Education; Manish Chawla, CTO, Classplus; Mallika Galagali, Cloud and Managed Service Provider Business Head, VMware; and Rajesh Dangi, Chief Digital Officer, NxtGen.

Edtech boom: the new growth catalyst

Tracing back to the age-old parenting thought where parents wouldn’t hesitate to move out their way while their children’s education is at stake, Ranjan said, “It’s a common problem for both the worthy teachers and capable students when it comes to geographical boundaries, and thus, this is the juncture when edtech steps in. The platforms, better pronounced as the ‘virtual schools’, ensure a mode of education as a school replacement or supplement, and have evolved greatly post the lockdown scenes, thereby undermining the geographical constraints.”

As the edtech story continues to boom, the sector has witnessed the emergence of several new players. Sharing his mantra to stay relevant in the crowded market, Kounal said, “To stay in the limelight, constant innovation and technological experimentation are the only ways out. As the industry is in constant need of new skills and the transformation of technology, the demand for these edtech platforms will continue to rise.”

Classplus’ Manish aims to build a world-class experience for educators and content-creators across the globe with technology as the frontrunner for growth. “We have educators and content creators who want to monetise their content. We are enabling all the supply-side players to build their digital brands, naming them as the tech assets. These further help in demand generation, distribution, and fulfilment, thereby projecting them as D2C brands, and that has been quite the ongoing strategy,” he added.

As there is a whole lot of data transformation in the edtech space, it’s necessary to seek appropriate data management techniques for the protection of data. Talking about safeguarding the content, Rajesh said, “Online exams, as it is seen, are prone to frauds, and thereby data protection is not only meant for a single content piece but involves the processes of how it is consumed, how they are transmitted, and whether they are consumed by the right stakeholders. Thus, online education is a boon, but the essentiality of data protection is an important aspect attached to it.”

“Digital transformation has led to a drastic change in planning and implementation. This is where institutions should step in to break down the technological barrier while opting for the right tools and platform, ensuring a great learning experience for students. Thus, this is where cloud computing becomes an obvious choice for the digital-first generation,” added Mallika.

Making classrooms better with technology

Artificial intelligence has automated several activities in the edtech industry, and imposes a direct impact on the efficiency and streamlining of various tasks. “The role of AI is critical to personalising teaching at scale, and is a process that we feel we can do better online instead of the physical classrooms. Technology right now is helping us to answer the teachers’ questions like how many students would need an additional class based on an additional topic to reinforce the subject. This is done just by looking at the video feed and understanding the test responses of the students, along with their energy level,” shared Ranjan.

The technology, he added, helps to build an iterative report that shows the actual growth trajectory to parents, teachers, and students while predicting whether or not they would be able to perform well in a test or topic. “This comes once in a year in the physical classroom, whereas it is a regular procedure in the virtual classrooms, thus ensuring high-quality education at cheaper costs,” he added.

While cloud-based learning management systems can yield greater results, it also shouts out disparity as it is still not accessible for many in India. Commenting on ways of making it accessible for all, Kounal believes in delivering content through audio format, and teaching through physical format as the world moves towards a hybrid model.

“We are anticipating the roll-out of 5G in the long run, as players are trying to grasp the policy of satellite broadband. Instead of a disparity, I feel there would be an excess demand for quality content, and with established connectivity, any person from across the country would be able to consume content and learn at their own pace. That would be a dream-come-true scenario for edtech,” echoed Rajesh.

While Manish feels that the connectivity factor is still a work in progress, Mallika stressed on securing the applications for both educators and students.

At the end of it all, being able to deliver a successful platform, in growing business models, and driving differentiation from that platform, while gaining success for the educators, students, and the business alike remains the crux of the tale.


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