Made-in-India Solutions Dominate Domestic EdTech
From Robotics to Internet of Things, Indian developers offer innovative kits for kids.
Can six-year-olds create things with a 3-D printer? Yes, says this Coimbatore-based maker.
Interactive classes without Internet? Kolkata company uses Bluetooth as the tool.
The first part of this report highlighted the findings of a UNESCO study on the state of education in India and the role that Artificial Intelligence could play — as a subject for learning and as a tool for teaching.
But what is the ground reality? Are the tools for students and teachers, centred around Information Technology and AI, available if the key stakeholders — the teachers and the taught — are ready and willing to absorb and deploy?
To find out, Swarajya, visited the DIDAC India show in Bengaluru last month — the only event in Asia for resources, training and solutions for the education and skills sector — and the largest annual platform in India for showcasing educational technology trends.
This year the three-day event drew around 19,000 visitors and 200 exhibitors. Organising partners included the Union Ministries of Education and MSME, NITI Aayog, Atal Innovation Mission and Skill India.
Other government supporters included the Ministries of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, AICTE, NCERT, CBSE, and the National e-Governance Division.
So this is as good a vantage point as you can get for an overview of EdTech in India.
Out of the hundreds of products and solutions on display, many covering the same niches and areas, here is a small but representative sample that testifies to the variety and scope of Made-in-India technology solutions available to teachers, students and school administrators.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) hitherto considered college-level disciplines have trickled down to school-goers.
Bengaluru-based MakerInMe Technologies offers the Cretile range of plug-n-play kits to learn electronics, robotics, automation and Internet of Things priced from Rs 5,000-Rs 15,000 for children aged 9-16. They are complemented by (separately priced) courses lasting 8-32 sessions with two sessions a week.
Hyderabad-based Butterflyfields offers a wide spectrum of educational toys and kits for children of all ages from 1 ½ to 13+ in their range called Tinkl.
A typical 20-experiment science kit for five-year-olds, costs Rs 1,699. A 10-project robotic and sensors kit costs Rs 3,599. Founder Sharat Chandra says his mission is to transform learning from rote to real.
Smart Classroom tools
Tag Hive is a Samsung-supported company operating in Korea with an India operation out of Kolkata, that specialises in AI-driven student-learning and teacher-empowerment.
Its most popular product in India is a tool called Class Saathi a combination of a hand-held clicker (with which the student gives his or her response to a question), a mobile application for students, teachers and parents and a dashboard for school administrators.
It aims to be a personalised learning platform, a digital assessment solution and a diagnostic tool, all rolled into one. And it requires no Internet since it works on Bluetooth.
School management systems
Software products that bring the functionality of ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning – to the educational scenario are aplenty in India today. Here is one fairly typical: From Thiruvananthapuram’s Technopark, Akira Software Solutions has created SmartSchool, a complete school management software.
It works on a common online platform where students, teachers and parents can come together; helps institutions to manage their activities online. All school-related projects and activities are recorded and stored on the cloud-based and can be accessed through phone and desktop.
Among the dozen or so international players at DIDAC India, was Australia-based D2L (“Desire to Learn”) whose Brightspace platform is a cloud-based learning management system used in 40 countries. In India, the company has partnered with government agencies like NITIAayog, AIM and Skills India.
Tech content for schools
The more aspirational schools today aim to equip their students with the basics of Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Coding, Web Design, 3-D Printing, Robotics, Application development.... If that sounds like a challenge for teachers, help is at hand!
Creating a tech curriculum for schools is an emerging niche. At DIDAC India, we spoke to Mumbai-based ICT 360, who offer content for such courses from class 1-10 as well as knowledge management systems, web-based training modules, assessment tools, and certification.
They also help equip the associated labs. The parent company is Ark Infosolutions, a major supplier of solutions for the media and entertainment industry.
3-D printers as a tool
Five years ago a 3-D printer was still a tool used in manufacturing for building fast prototypes of mechanical parts and machinery. Today, with galloping popularity (and falling prices) it has become a favourite tool for fabrication in college projects.
But primary school kids working a 3-D printer? That was a first for this correspondent – and there was a company exhibiting its school 3-D printer-based educational aids at DIDAC India:
Based in Coimbatore and Chennai, D3 Education, showcased its made-in-India 3-D printer for school kids in class 3-9. The company typically places the printer in a school and supports it with all raw materials.
Students are charged about Rs 1,000 a year by the school to work (or play?) with the printer, limited only by their imagination. The youngest students tend to ‘fabricate' chocolates or candles.
But then they go on to make pots, soap, tea coasters, pen stands…invaluable experience for the day when they can design and create real-world manufactured parts. If any school or an individual wanted to buy a printer outright, it costs around Rs 25,000.
The company claims to have designed India’s first 3-D printing curriculum for school children. Today it helps train 8,000-10,000 children.
Calling itself the world’s first youth-focused career success platform for school and college – and the largest, with some 800 options, LaunchMyCareer is a global edtech company operating in India, out of Noida. It offers live counselling, online learning resources and overseas study advice.
Tamper-proof digital certificates
Educational technology is a big tent with multiple opportunities for innovation and specialisation. The Amaravati (Maharashtra)-based TruScholar caught our eye with its canny mix of digital certification technology with Blockchain--useful when forged certificates and credentials are all too common.
Helping institutions to issue both digital and physical certificates that are tamper-proof and verifiable, TruScholar enables integration with government-run facilities like DigiLocker to safely store them.
An inbuilt QR-Code enables potential employers to instantaneously verify the authenticity of a certificate or Identity badge. To end users such a secure digital certificate would cost less than Rs 100.
These highlighted tools and solutions are only a small sampler of what was showcased last month at the DIDAC India event. But they proved that when it came to harnessing AI, Cloud Computing, Blockchain and other cutting edge tools, Indian players have virtually cornered the domestic market for educational technology.
The tech-tools are out there – for the taking.
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