How do you see front-end technology like AI and ML transforming campuses?
“With these technologies, everything is happening online, for example, online assessment (AI proctored online examination) is a huge opportunity, so we conducted thousands of tests in the last few months,” Gaurav said. “Institutes are planning to continue this automation at least for internal exams due to less headache and no need for students’ physical presence.”
“AI and ML have made evaluation easier and faster, and post-exam services like revaluation quicker and more accurate,” Gaurav said. More and more institutions are welcoming the change, and they’ve shown interest in continuing. Its usage will reduce administrative tasks and costs, and edupreneurs are only scratching the surface of personalized adaptive learning using AI, ML-based assessments, previously available but not well implemented. “Now that digital tools are used frequently and ubiquitously, there is enough recorded data to leverage AI and ML,” Gaurav added.
Hemant added to the conversation saying that the lack of data is being taken care of now, but it will take time to build databases. “It will eventually lead to super-efficient educational outcomes and new learning models enabled by AR and VR,” he said.
Sunil added that the government has made a lot of effort to drive the industry for automation technology adoption in campuses. He talked of AWS Educate giving free tools and content for learning, which can help campuses adopt technology faster by allowing them to acquire practical knowledge faster. He also points that over the last six months, AWS has witnessed a surge in users' number, probably due to the on-going pandemic.
What evolution do you see moving forward in terms of digital adoption? Apart from online assessment, what are the other areas where you see help is needed?
“It is a nightmare to implement social distancing in K-12,” Sunil said, “in higher education, it’s still enforceable. A couple of institutions are working on that, but how do you create a functional social-distancing solution?”
Sunil suggests using Bluetooth as a potential way to keep distance in groups. “However,” he added, “in reality, it’s challenging. All technologies at this point are in experimental phases.”
What is your advice to emerging EdTech Start-ups, especially for someone targeting higher education?
Gaurav advised EdTech players to first look at adding real value through their products by building sustainable products that will outlast the pandemic. “Look for trends where customer behaviour is changing for good or would more or less be permanent.”
Gaurav suggests spending frugally because a lot of capital has already gone into the market. “Wait and watch for the next 12 months in case you don’t have much capital. Weather the storm; if you have a good product, you will be fine.”
The most important factor, according to Gaurav, is to be close to your customers. Talk as much as you can to know customer behaviour; get feedback for product creation and everything besides”.
What are the key lessons learned from 2020?
“As Gaurav mentioned,” Hemant said, “it is necessary to stick to the first principle of the enterprise SaaS business, i.e., stay close to customers as possible.”
According to Hemant, as an EdTech business, you should be closer to your customers, and not their IT representatives. “Ultimately, your end users are students, staff, and administrators.
The closer you are to your users, the better the platform utilization”. Hemant suggests maintaining good relations with partners, understanding their pain points, and making efforts to solving them. On investments, he said “you have to be clear what you need the capital for. “Understand the landscape of investment in the market, stick to your ethics code and keep executing,” he said adding, “don’t get desperate and change course, don’t reduce your prices and go in every direction. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.”
The webinar concluded with a piece of advice by Mr. Sunil on “what supports start-ups can expect from AWS EdStart and AWS Academy. “AWS EdStart provides an infrastructure that scales and AWS Academy provides on-campus certifications,” Sunil said, “you can also use AWS Educate to access content for basic skilling programs in early stages of your EdTech start-up.”
Sunil stated that there are tons of dependable programs run by AWS, which allow start-ups to leverage AWS technology, platform, & infrastructure to scale efficiently.
“There are several tools and resources that AWS provides for free, and users can take advantage of it to gain as much knowledge as they can,” Sunil concluded.