Ex-iitians shaping open school learning concept into startupNowadays the open school learning concept is catching speed and looks like two ex-iitians have found a way to utilize it well. Akshat Goel and Ritesh Singh have come up with an idea of turning this idea into a startup so that its full potential for educating students, parents and teachers can be harnessed. New Delhi, India | Red Newswire | Dec 22, 2015 Last Updated at 04:43 PM IST.
Ritesh and Akshat have named their startup Eckovation deriving from its purpose of providing effective and innovative solutions for knowledge transfer in today’s education ecosystem. Though started way back in 2014, they launched the app this year in June.
Ritesh Singh, CEO of Eckovation said that he comes from a tier-III town of Bihar and always had language issues. He said, “So, I was always thinking about solutions that could help people just like me, who do not get access to quality education early in their life. I always wanted to make quality education accessible even in places where only minimal infrastructure exists. That's how Eckovation came into being.”
The startup has faced many challenges from conceptualization to practical implementation.
Singh says, “We first explored MOOCs (massive open online courses) but they were cumbersome and required a lot of self-discipline on the users' part. Next we thought about providing data analytics through an ERP system that monitors a child's performance and equips teachers and parents with sufficient data to improve a child's performance by finding gaps, weaknesses and strengths.”
He further adds, “But looking at the size of a normal classroom, the actual implementation seemed extremely difficult and would have required greater efforts from the teachers instead of simplifying their lives. We also did a market study with 30,000 students across 4 cities across tiers to understand the gaps. Therein, we observed that parents are not in the loop, when it comes to classroom teaching.”
According to their research and study, at PTMs, the parents’ turnout is just 15-20% and Singh says this needs to be fixed.
So we decided to build a product that brings together all actors of education - parents, students, teachers and school administration. Eckovation not only helps connect parents with teachers and students while safeguarding everyone's privacy, it also connects students to teachers who are willing to transfer knowledge beyond their classrooms."
The major challenge faced by them was how utterly dependent the teachers were on Whatsapp. He says, “Although teachers wanted students to join their classroom-learning group, they were wary of their phone numbers falling in the hands of strangers. At the same time, teachers had to block students and parents because sometimes they did not want them to disturb them beyond office hours."
However, these limitations have proved to be of an opportunity for the two.
Singh says, “For instance - size limit of 100 members in a group, privacy concerns, no control over conversation for teachers, so on and so forth. All of this has been taken care of in Eckovation app plus a lot more features are there to ensure education-focused communication. We are also introducing document transfer on the app. The app, by design, is very light and uses minimal Internet on your phone.”
Using Eckovation the teachers, parents and students can interact freely while maintaining privacy.
Singh adds, “Moreover, we also observed that teachers are not very comfortable in being active 24x7 on the app and rightly so. So they can easily change the mode of the app from two-way to one-way thereby disallowing anyone else but themselves from posting on the group. It ensures that teachers only interact when they want to and have the time to do so."
The app further allows the teachers to share their group code with those who do not belong to that particular class, thus promoting open learning.
"There are 400 such teachers active on the platform. Through this, students who may not have access to quality teachers can take lessons and clarify doubts from accomplished and experienced teachers who are willing to help in their free time,” said Singh.
By 2020 the company aims to add 1 billion users to the platform.