“There is a paradigm shift happening from Grades-based Unilateral Education to Skills-based Interactive Learning” – Nishanth Reddy, Chief Growth Officer, Focus Project and Former Chief Business Officer, Math Buddy
Tech-based interactive and experiential learning solutions are changing education delivery methodology. Increasing awareness about cognitive and early childhood development has lead to a shift in focus from curriculum-based pedagogy to holistic skills-based learning. Rote learning methodology has been taken over by "learning-by-doing” methodology to enhance learning outcomes. To understand the changing dynamics in K12 Ed-Tech space we reached out to Nishanth Reddy, Chief Growth Officer at Focus Project and Former Chief Business Officer at Math Buddy.
Question 1: How and When did you get associated with the industry and how has your experience been so far?
Answer:It’s almost been a decade with the Education sector for me. Currently, I am associated with the company called Focus Project. It is from Europe and has been operating in India since the last 1 year. We cater to K10 education and our major focus areas are pre-primary, primary and secondary education.
Focus Project provides an AI-based learning lifecycle management system that empowers the school ecosystem to provide personalised interactive learning to every student using the Diagnosis-Analysis-Practice-Proficiency approach. We break the curriculum into skill-mapped content bits and also create a comprehensive learning DNA for every student that helps make optimal career choices. The company focuses on B2B business through its platform to schools and it also caters to B2B2C through schools by providing advanced solution to the interested parents.
Earlier I was a part of Math Buddy. Math Buddy provides a combination solution that includes activity kits as well as digital engagement only for Mathematics. It follows a CPA (Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract) methodology to develop deep and sustainable understanding of Maths. Concrete learning takes place through individual or team based activity kits wherein the child can explore the kit by themselves and can right down the observations. Pictorial learning is taken up by teachers in class through interactive software and abstract learning ensures concept application through practice & assessment.
Question 2: The interactive learning industry is at its nascent stage in India. What are parameters driving parents to shift towards an interactive learning solution for their kids?
Answer: There is an increase in traction towards skills-based interactive learning especially after the government has come up with the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation guidelines for schools which gives emphasis on both scholastic and co-scholastic skills development. Even parents are looking for cognitive development of their kids, right from an early stage. With increasing awareness, parents started emphasising on interactive classrooms and development of soft-skills & co-curricular skills along with the main curriculum.
Question 3: What are the challenges faced in the industry? Are there any government constraints?
Answer: In terms of B2C, there has always been a push back on use technology in early years because of negative impact of increasing screen time. However, increasing awareness about benefits of experiential learning and with introduction of concepts such as “Exergaming”, parent’s mind-set is changing and they are ready to try a digital solution with restricted screen time. B2B is a tricky space as we have to deal with various entities. Government regulations such as FRC restricts schools to increase fee without the regulatory body’s permission, because of which many schools are unable to implement a third party interactive learning solution. Changing education policy also acts as a major constraint for developing a learning solution for schools.
Question 4:The activity kit industry is majorly dominated by Flintobox and Magic Crate. What are the few strategies adopted by Math Buddy to maintain the competitive edge in the industry? What do you think are the success factors in the industry?
Answer: Math Buddy has always focused on B2B business, however due to COVID it has shifted its focus towards B2C. Math Buddy has strategically developed a niche product specifically focused on mathematics, unlike the other generic products. It focuses on explanation of mathematical concepts and its application in the real world scenario. Also, unlike other companies, Math Buddy’s solution is directly aligned to the school curriculum and this adds to the educational value of the product. On B2B front, with increasing number of IB schools the demand of subject specific interactive learning material is increasing. Currently, Math Buddy works with more than 400 schools.
Math Buddy focuses on providing efficient after sale service. It’s software also acts as an activity support app, where doubts & queries can be asked through the chat box. Also, there is a monthly support call taken by the support team for every B2C subscriber.
Question 5: Is there seasonality in demand of activity kits? If yes, what were your strategies to deal with the same?
Answer: As I told you Math Buddy’s product is aligned to the school curriculum. We did not face a demand seasonality as we align the activities to the annual teaching plan of the school.
Question 6: There are various companies providing a smart learning solution to schools in India? What are the USP’s of Focus Project?
Answer: Focus Project’s solution is curriculum and subject agnostic. Unlike other solutions, we also cater to various co-curricular subjects such as drama, arts, finance and others. Few AI enabled features such as the “Inter-Subject Skill Impact Analysis” and “Learner Footprint” help us to create a competitive edge over others. The first feature can analyse the impact of skills in one subject on skills in another subject. For instance, low scores in math word problems can be due to the impact of low reading comprehension skills in English. Learner Footprint helps selecting an optimal career path for students based on the skills acquired over the schooling years. For instance, if a child is good in critical thinking and logical reasoning, our solution may suggest Law as a career path for him.
Question 7: How has corona virus impacted the industry? What does the future of the industry looks like and what are your future plans?
Answer: The current situation has forced schools and parents to leverage technology for educational delivery. With live classes, schools have been facing the challenge of low attention and attendance from students and therefore schools are looking for an interactive solution which can keep students hooked to the classes. Schools are looking for solutions which can complement the live classes and which can also be used after the schools reopen. This means many schools will now shift from brick & mortar classroom to a blended learning format. The industry is growing at a double digit growth rate and will continue to maintain the pace in the future.
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