An IIM-Kolkata alumnus, Ashish founded uFony, the parent company for School Dairy, in Pune. uFony, meant to rhyme with “euphony” – meaning a pleasing sound, created its first product, the School Diary App, in 2012, as a specifically designed technology solution for the education sector, aimed to simplify and streamline the parent-teacher communication.
As the world gets used to a new normal, while still grappling with the pandemic, businesses, including education, have increasingly become comfortable with new technology innovations that have been a major enabler over the past few months. Although growing rapidly and gaining huge popularity, Ed-tech in India largely remains focussed on the students, with the development of AI and VR enabled assisted learning tools. An integrated approach to teaching that works towards building supportive educational technology infrastructure for schools, and empower other stakeholders, especially teachers is largely lacking.
While the NEP and the digitisation of education, are all leading to a transformation in learning patterns, a lot needs to be explored in terms of the impact on teachers. Digitisation and effective technology intervention can actually empower teachers in the following manner:
1. Automated operations: Operational tasks, like attendance, record keeping, assessment results etc., are important, but time-consuming tasks in a school and are often thrust upon teachers to handle, given their consistent interaction with students. These, however, burden the teachers who are already learning to cope up with the new method of teaching online. It also takes away their focus on the key areas of responsibility. Automated operations help reduce this burden by facilitating technology-empowered solutions to mundane school operations, thereby assisting teachers in spending quality time focusing on their core responsibility areas.
2. Seamless parent engagement: This is the second most significant and effort taking task handled by the teachers. Updating parents about their ward’s progress and building long term and consistent engagement with them for the overall development of a child is a vital part of school education. However, as the ratio of students to teacher per class goes on increasing, it is becoming a huge burden. Having an integrated tech-enabled communication platform where teachers could effortlessly document vast information about multiple students on a single app, and be connected to respective parents via the app, can make it hassle-free, effective, and real-time. This could include sharing a weekly test calendar or updating the test scores, informing about the schools curricular and extra-curricular activities or even sending one on one messages related to a particular student, having a virtual discussion with the parents, etc.
3. Online assessments: Setting up weekly and term wise test papers, conducting tests and assessing several handwritten test papers is another area that is daunting and requires massive efforts on the part of the teachers. With the virtual classrooms and online learnings, drafting assessments that are friendly to be taken online, like MCQ’s etc., is being explored by schools. Additionally, smart tech tools leveraging data analytics can be created to assess and rank students work, which can then be shared with parents, reducing the workload of teachers drastically.
4. Interactive learning tools: Over the past few years, emerging technology tools that leverage AR and VR to create fun, interactive learning modules for students, has become popular. These include audio-video animations, 3-D story-telling and other formats, which help teachers to create impactful modules for students and facilitate understanding of languages and phonetics, build cognitive skills, and teach problem-solving approach etc., A widespread acceptance of Interactive tools, with a focus on creating an agile framework for teachers to modify and customise these as and when needed, can go a long way in supporting and enhancing the role of teachers.
5. Assisted learning tools: A lot has been spoken about how AI and ML-driven assisted learning tools and their impact on a child’s learning abilities. While it offers children a more experiential learning platform, teachers benefit from an impactful tool that enhances knowledge uptake and understanding. And although this is helpful, a lot can be done to further make these tools teacher-friendly, to allow teachers to enhance their individual teaching styles.
6. Easy record-keeping for each child: Traditionally the admissions, attendance, assessment, and other records of children have been kept in bulky registers, updated manually by teachers, and managed by school administrative staff. However, the method has always been prone to errors and has been a major burden on the time and energy of teachers. Automated and cloud-based data collection, with face recognition based attendance monitoring, automated assessment records, etc., a bulk of the administrative role of teachers can be taken away and managed efficiently by tech-enabled platforms that allow easy access to it, as and when required.
7. Data-driven insights: This is one area with high potential and yet relatively unexplored when it comes to tech-enabled services for educational institutes. Effective data capture and management of students can help facilitate insightful data analysis, making it easier for teachers to create impactful learning programs and support students struggling with challenges. From regular school conduct, instances of conflict, behaviour and learning disabilities or challenges, to recommendations and help in the early planning of career path, data-driven insights can help teachers navigate the essential student behaviour challenges and assist them in their overall, holistic growth.
8. Continuous learning opportunity for Teachers: Creating access to self-paced, detailed and well-crafted training modules to help teachers pursue skill enhancement and knowledge up-gradation, can be an empowering tool, especially during such times. Further, access to an unlimited and diverse set of learning opportunities with certification from reputed institutes can help enrich teachers and help them remain updated about the latest in their field of choice while allowing them to broaden their career prospects and growth.
9. Real-time Online surveys/feedback: While creating a curriculum and managing students, teachers could use a lot of support from real-time feedback. A tech-enabled platform that facilitates effective school-teacher-parent engagement can go a long way in helping teachers create an effective teaching module, drive efficiency, save time and create better impact. Through real-time online surveys, feedback and appreciation as well as healthy discussions, teachers can gain access to insights and implement the same for their teaching method.
Apart from the above pointers, leveraging technology to drive knowledge sharing, seminars and conferences and virtual support groups, among teachers, can all go a long way in building a strong and reliable support ecosystem for teachers. With effective government policies around digital literacy and the NEP which further enhances the widespread role of technology adoption for education, there is a lot of potentials for ed-tech service providers and schools to create and adopt innovations focusing around enabling and empowering teachers.
More About Ashish Chaturvedi
Before uFony, Ashish spent 19 years in a corporate role, working across technology, business development, and planning across sectors, including the IT services and CPG industry. He was a part of the Global Program Management team, where he managed a 50+ MUSD transformational program comprising of 400+ resources distributed across Europe, US, India and China for P&G. Having worked with some of the leading Indian and International brands, including Infosys, AT&T, P&G and Veizon (USA), Ashish gained immense insights in working with multicultural teams and acquiring hands-on expertise, across business domains. All these learnings he carefully imbibed so as to eventually implement some of the world’s best practices, in his own business venture. His goal had always been to start his own venture one day and enable the creation of at least 10,000 jobs – a milestone he is very close to achieving!
School Diary has been a success since its launch in 2012. What started with one school in Pune is now a family of 201K+ app users, across 709+ schools, pre-schools and daycare centres, spread in 9+ countries. The App, designed to create a one-stop communication platform, accessible on iOS, Android, Windows smartphones and Windows 10 tablet, desktops and over browsers, has been effective in bridging the parent-teacher information divide. With the customised, innovative and simple solution, the App has created an easy and engaging interface that could help both parents and teachers to be on the same page when it came to a child’s education.
In addition to School Diary®, Ashish is also the founder of Daycarez® & Zoment™.