Delhi based venture brings interactive computer and web based content and products to schools
In two schools in Delhi and one in Nagpur, students access lessons and attempt to answer questions on a tablet called Classpad. The teacher in the class monitors the performance of each student on a real time basis on her controller tablet.
She uses the interactive whiteboard in her classroom to clarify doubts and the student can download the notes on the board to the tablet through wi-fi at the end of the class. These cutting edge classroom are powered by new age teaching tools and contents created by Mind Shapers Technologies, which operates under the brand name Class Teacher Learning Systems.
Rohit Pande and Sameer Buti, two IIT Delhi alumini, founded the company in 200 with a plan to deliver educational content through internet. "But the idea was way ahead of its time," said Pande who was management consultant in London before he returned to India in 1999 to launch the company. Class teacher then started providing software to schools to streamline management functions.
By 2005 the team realized that the market was ripe for the student-oriented contents and products and made the shift to content for the classroom. "We wanted to bring in personalisation and make learning more interactive and fun" said the 37 years old Pande.
They launched their interactive white board, where the touch sensitive board is connected to a computer and projector and acts like a large tablet screen along with content. Pande said that getting teachers to adopt technology in the classroom was a major challenge. The interactive white board helped create the market as the board's visual impact was easy to see immediately.
They soon launched curriculum linked lessons and assessment for the classroom, lab and home, including short animation movies to explain various concepts. "The market has opened up dramatically in the last three years" said Pande.
Jayashree Padmanabhan, Principal of Chennai's Gill Adarsh, was one of the sceptics. Three years ago she decided to give the solution a try. Today she is a convert. She said 78 classrooms in her class are completely fitted by Classteacher which also runs the server room in the school. The content is mapped to the syllabus and students and teachers create projects and saves lessons on the central system from where other teachers can access them.
"They have made the content extremely visual, which helps the kids learn better," said Padmanabhan. "Now we are completely hooked."
Classteacher today provides solution to almost 700 schools and has 80,000 digitised lessons and 50,000 digitised assessment programmes. Earlier this year, the. 20-crore company, raised $15 million (around 75 crore) risk capital from Fidelity Growth Partners.
Pande said the company is investing around 25% of the fund raised (roughly $ 3.75 million or 18 crore) in R&D.
One of the outcomes of the research is the Classpad, which is in pilot mode and will be launched in the market in a couple of months. The Classpad is loaded with applications which encompass lessons, assessments and projects.
Pande who is targeting revenues of Rs.50 crore in FY 2011-12, has big plans for the ventures. His team is also developing e-books with age appropriate original content that will complement the curriculum.
The plan is to create interactive e-books where students can click through diagrams and links and learn more said Pande.
They are also developing blueprint for after school learning centres, where the content and teaching will be managed by classteacher. But empowering the school will remain our core," said Pande.