eVidya: Transforming School Education Through Technology
Pankaj Baranwal, Desh Deepak, Utkarsh Mittal and a team of several researchers collaborated with the Bal Vikas Montessori School, a community-run school in India to find out the effects, impact and feasibility of introducing interactive e-learning courses in the curriculum at elementary level of education.
Their hypothesis is that current semester-based curriculum is not appropriate for most of these community-run schools, where most students belong to underprivileged families and find it hard to regularly attend classes and manage their struggle with life simultaneously. The solution to this problem is e-learning based teaching. Pankaj and his team proposed a new educational system - Learning through self-paced courses under supervision of faculty. The team figured out a hardware solution and started working on a digital interactive gamified learning platform. The platform had to be so intutive and simple to use that even elementary school students with no prior computer experience would be able to pick it up quickly. They set up the lab and eVidya was born! A month long pilot study was run at the Bal Vikas Montessori School between February - March, 2020. Then COVID-19 hit and with a full lockdown in India, the team was forced to re-evaluate their options. It was back to the drawing board.
Pankaj and his team then partnered up with Precisely, a local ed-tech startup, to begin working on a new platform based on the same principles of intuitiveness, simplicity and accessability to the grassroots. The solution they came up with is "Learnage", an all-in-one mobile and web platform which provides students and teachers access to every resource and training they might need to run their own online classrooms and connect with students while sitting in their own homes.
Pankaj and his team hope to extend this model to regional or even a national level. Although there are still many hurdles to overcome, the goal is to ensure that all girls and boys are able to have access to a completely free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education, no matter where they call home.