18 May 2018 15:40 IST

Studying, no more a bore, no more a chore!

Saiju Aravind’s Edubrisk is a digital learning platform that redefines the learning process

In 2011, when Saiju Aravind , a senior scientist at the Defence Research and Development Organisation, saw his son struggling with school work, he decided to quit his job to fix what he termed the “disintegrated system of education” in India. “That was a tough year for my son, who was in Std 12. He had difficulty learning what was taught at school, and was on the verge of failing his Board exams. That’s when I decided to quit my job and support him,” Aravind explains.

Often, teachers are in such a hurry to finish the syllabus and prepare students for examinations that the actual process of learning takes a back seat; and what is education without learning?

Initially, Aravind and his wife Swapna read the books of Ken Robinson and Simon Sinek to gain a better understanding of what they could do to help their son. Then they began researching the topics further. The research was in four areas — neuroscience, computer science, pedagogy and cognitive psychology. Aravind found that stress, forgetfulness, the inability to prioritise, and a difficulty in comprehension were some external manifestations that hampered a student’s learning process.

Aravind realised that everything he learned in order to help his son could be used for other students too. And thus, EduBrisk Knowledge Solutions Pvt Ltd was born.

Focus on the learning process

EduBrisk, which is a content-agnostic software, grew with the aim of tackling such commonly-faced problems and focused on ‘brisk learning’ for students who had lost pace and interest in learning over time.

“We need a system where the teacher follows a pace that’s slow enough for the child to take a step back and relearn, or learn better, if they don’t understand something. Often, the pace of teaching is too fast for some children to follow and they’re left behind.” Aravind explains, adding: “We need to have a repository of content and a robust process by which the child becomes aware of their weaknesses. This way, the student will be able to move horizontally and vertically with the help of the content provided, develop those concepts and then come back to the higher level.”

However, research alone does not resolve the fact that there is more focus on content consumption than the learning process, Aravind says. “If educators teach students the process of learning and the fundamental principles of the approach to a subject, the students can self-learn at a pretty fast pace.”

Holistic development

Keeping this in mind, Aravind built a structure tying technology with education that functions as a digital learning platform. With EduBrisk, teachers, students, and parents are provided with a platform that enables them to produce and share content, as well as consume content that has been shared. More importantly, it also serves as a tracker for parents to keep an eye on the growth of their children and identify their strengths and weaknesses.

For example, if students in a biology class are learning about tissues, and it so happens that the parents of a student in that class are doctors or medical researchers, then they can upload a picture of the tissue culture on the platform, which the class can use to learn about more about tissues. Likewise, teachers can share different teaching methods that parents can use to help their child, or students can upload newly discovered material on the platform.

As for how the platform serves as a tracker, Aravind says that parents can monitor performance through tests the student takes, which are made available to them. The child’s strengths and weaknesses can then be analysed.

The EduBrisk way

So far, several institutions have subscribed to EduBrisk and have adopted its methodology to promote an effective ‘learn to learn’ culture. “We train the teachers and provide them with the digital platform. They, in turn, teach the students the principles of the platform, after which the students can self-learn and go back to it whenever they want. This way, we overcome time constraints as well,” Aravind says.

This emphasis on holistic development has not just led to the launch of three significant programmes — Parents as Life Mentors, School Teacher Empowerment Programme, and Student Curriculum Oriented Empowerment — but has also helped EduBrisk maintain growth and profitability since its initiation in 2017.

EduBrisk has identified partners who are in a position to take the whole programme to a particular country or a geographic zone. They are later trained to become trainers for institutions in that zone. “We focus more on development of the product (that is, the platform that hosts the content) than developing content on the platform,” Aravind says.

Funding, potential

EduBrisk follows a B2B model where schools have the option of subscribing to the teacher and student workshops. Students can pay for these workshops through the school, or directly to EduBrisk. At present, 20 schools have successfully adopted the EduBrisk way and 50 have partially adopted it through workshops. “The immediate plan is to cater to 200 schools in West Asia and India, and help them move toward a better standard of education,” Aravind says.

On funding, he says: “Our initial round of funding came from the Singapore-based Emerge Ventures, followed by Kochi-based Feathersoft Info Solutions Pvt Ltd, and then from US-based Clairvoyant. Currently, we are engaging with private schools but plan to collaborate with three government schools in the near future.”