Making Digital Education Work In India

Internet is a great enabler. Is has an ability to make quality education accessible. A teacher can share her knowledge with thousands of students. While this sounds grand, like most things, execution and interaction is the key. The hottest thing after e-commerce in the Indian startup ecosystem is education. If VC investment were an indication of the value of a sector, education would definitely be among the top 3. The question is how much of value have we created in this space?

When I started Samuday Technologies, my intent was to build a great product that could enable better collaboration in areas beyond the enterprise – such as education, healthcare and CRM. About 10 months into the company, I understood that problem in Ed-Tech – low (actual) adoption rates among students. We realigned significantly at that point. While you can build the coolest and smartest softwares, usage levels are going to be frustratingly low because students and teachers are swamped with existing problems.

One of the reasons for low adoption is expecting significant change in user behavior. I am a big believer in building products that fit into existing workflows instead of expecting changes in user behavior and workflows. Here are some of my learnings from my experience in the education space.

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UnPluggd 5 – July 7, 2012

We are attending UnPluggd 5 in Bangalore. This is a great opportunity for startups and technology enthusiasts in India to huddle together.

More About UnPluggd

Meet India’s promising startups/entrepreneurs at Unpluggd on 7th July at Bangalore.

At the heart of every great business is an idea, a leader, a vision and most importantly – unmatched execution.

At Unpluggd, we bring stories of how entrepreneurs brought new perspectives to problems, industry, employees and community. The executional challenges, roller coaster rides and importantly the jugaad element : all of this + demo of India’s most promising technology startups.

Of course, UnPluggd, as always, would be an awesome opportunity to meet the others in the startup ecosystem – be it investors, geeks, potential hires, CXO or fellow entrepreneurs.

When: 7th July, 2012. Saturday, 9 AM to 6 PM.

Where: MLR Convention Center, Brigade Millennium Campus, 7th Phase J.P.Nagar, Bangalore – 560 078.

URL: http://www.pluggd.in/unpluggd

Time to show love & cheer for Indian Startups. Register at  http://www.pluggd.in/unpluggd/block-your-unpluggd-seat/

 

How many kids in India buy iPad to study?

I am an Indian entrepreneur in more ways than one. I always look around and ask myself – how am I making a change around me? I was in the iStore today morning. An iStore is an Apple retail store chain that is run by Reliance Digital. I saw a woman and her daughter walk in and ask for scratch guards for an iPad and iPod. I asked the girl what does she use the iPad for – browsing or studying. Her answer was prompt (with a look of “is that even a question, who studies with these cool things”) – for general browsing! Ofcourse, this is not a representative sample set and she could just be an outlier.

Now the big question – how many kids in India buy iPads to study? This might be a question that is too early to ask. But what is important is how deep can technology go in making a meaningful impact in learning. I am consciously using the word learning and not education – Education is a mere business, but learning is an experience. The growth of modern technology is a focus on experience. The iPads combined with latest collaboration technologies are bringing in the experience that is critical in delivering a meaningful learning experience.

It is not sufficient to set up a virtual classroom or an expensive enterprise grade software hoping students/learners will “learn”. It is the experience that will make things work – the future is immersive technology that can engage and connect learners and teachers together. Let’s look forward for some innovation in improving the experience.