Our business and company has been built over the last decade around 2 ideas – technology and education. The twain was not very complementary in the early days of Classteacher. We created technology to connect the school to parents, to help children learn over the internet @ home. This was the first wave of internet at the turn of the century. The possibilities were immense – convenient access to information at home and in office, immediate solution to a doubt while learning at home, instant grading and feedback for test results.
We hadn’t bargained for the fact that education is a social activity which occurs in the human context. Subsequent events were to prove that technology was to have a critical role in education but it had to be balanced with the supremacy of face to face teaching. Just as important as it is to understand the value added through technology, it is critically important to understand the context and the specific problem being solved through the application of technology. The key is to be able to forecast adoption trends for new technologies as its just easy to over design technology just as it is to become obsolete.
Education has been one of the lagging sectors of society in adopting technology; Change has been hard to drive in institutions of learning. It is extremely important to understand and harness the factors that drive institutional change. It provides as much competitive advantage to a company as does access to cutting edge technology.
Now, that education is getting fundamentally reshaped through technology, it is heartening to note a number of attempts to innovate issues related to instruction, delivery, assessment, pedagogy and community. Each aspect of education right from pre Kindergarden to Adult learning is being impacted by technology driven innovation. Educators are also coming out and boldly experimenting with newer ways of teaching, of testing and of fostering a sense of collaboration.
Product design in the last few years for us in education, has been at the intersection of hardware and software. The interactive software which goes along with the Interactive Board , the personalization platforms that we are now building around tablets. Our experience has been that such hybrid solutions are better accepted in the market.
If we try to look back at our journey, the technology edge has always attracted the innovative early adopter customers towards us. It has also allowed us to have a standardized quality edge. It has further permitted us to attract and retain employees who have been driven by the urge to create and innovate. The excitement of our product designers and engineers towards building the curriculum of the future has kept us going through our tough days.
One of the possibilities of technology which excites us today is to be able to personalize delivery to the aptitude and skills of each child. While the technology for this is not perfect, the challenge to create a pragmatic solution which is able to motivate each learner towards his potential is enormous. The challenge is to engage the minds of a new generation of learners who are digital natives and who are immersed in technology from their birth. The learning solutions for such learners would be based on a paradigm shift in curriculum goals and ways of collaboration.
It is heartening to see the same excitement at classteacher. The dream to build a brave new world of education, teaching and learning. To inspire a new generation of teachers to engage their students. While technology is a great edge to build a business, it is no substitute for good old dreaming.