Tuesday, September 2, 2014

'We wanted to make a meaningful difference to the quality of education' Nirav Khambhati, CEO, Tata ClassEdge

Tata ClassEdge, which was recently spun off as a separate entity from Tata Interactive Systems, has launched two new products. Nirav Khambhati, CEO, Tata ClassEdge, talks about these new developments in an interview with Nithin Rao. Excerpts:

Why was Tata ClassEdge spun off as a separate entity from Tata Interactive?
Tata Interactive Systems launched ClassEdge as a product in 2011 to improve the quality of teaching in Indian schools and essentially to improve learning outcomes. About three months back a decision was taken to look at this particular business through a different lens. We wanted to make a meaningful difference to the quality of education in India and not be bound by financial aspects such as revenues; we wanted to measure ourselves in terms of how many lives we have changed. The whole perspective changed and profit was no longer the primary motive.

Could you elaborate on Tata ClassEdge implementation in schools?
For a school, it becomes a transformational journey. Some of the teachers may not be tech-savvy, may not use PCs very often. What we have made sure, from the teacher’s perspective, is that product utilisation should be as easy as possible so that the learning curve is as short as possible.
All our resources are not only mapped to CBSE, ICSE and 26 state board curricula, but also to the textbooks used by the schools. Our repository has content meant specifically for struggling users, as well as gifted users. Learning can happen at the pace which is most comfortable for a student. Teachers using our repository and software can create their own lessons. We don’t force a particular method of teaching; we give the resources that enable teachers to customise the lesson.
A teacher can use those resources in whatever manner she finds most appropriate and suitable to her teaching style. The system is flexible enough to accommodate this. The teacher can add her own material if she comes across open resources on the internet. This can be integrated with the system, which then becomes a dynamic platform for the school to create an evolving knowledge repository.

A unique thing we do is that we connect with each school over the cloud. The advantage is that there is almost near real-time update of the content repository. It also allows us to monitor the utilisation of our system in each classroom. We can proactively provide inputs to the school on how they can improve the system on an ongoing basis.

Can you tell us about the two new products – PlanEdge and TestEdge - that have been launched by Tata ClassEdge?

Teachers using the ClassEdge repository and software can create their own lessons We looked at issues that consume a teacher’s time, and realised that they are overloaded with administrative duties. PlanEdge is a tool which allows automation of administrative tasks such as generation of timetables and management of resources such as classrooms. The tool acts as a small enterprise resource planning software, which takes into account the resources available, maps it across the schools’ academic calendar and produces a timetable. It also allows planning of academic activities for the year.
As for TestEdge, we provide a rich and comprehensive repository of questions that helps the teacher set up test papers. These questions have been graded according to Bloom’s taxonomy (American educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom created this system more than 50 years ago), in terms of how much time a student would typically take to complete that question paper. This permits for generation of standardised test papers and allows the students to feel that there is some amount of consistency in the kind of question papers they can expect.