EdTech has been generating big buzz all over the globe and especially about its ability to deliver personalized education, i.e. new ways technology can help instructors deliver personalized education to their unique students while saving class time.
To talk more in depth about the same, we had with us Madhu Narasa, who is the CEO and Co-founder of Snapwiz, a premier adaptive learning company.
Share with us a little about your organization. What would be an elevator pitch for someone who does not know about your company?
<Madhu>: We are an edtech startup with a goal of personalizing the learning experience of the students. We have a platform that combines adaptive and collaborative and interactive content into an engaging learning experience for the students. We have couple of products and most specifically, we offer an adaptive practice and assessment solution to help students learn better and more importantly for teachers to understand the strength and weakness for students.
What is your company's core value proposition? What problem/s are you solving and for whom?
<Madhu>: The platform caters to the different needs and the primary target is students. We are trying to improve the learning outcome of the student, but essentially trying to make teacher’s job easier and more effective in the learning process.
What is the driving passion?
<Madhu>: If you look at edtech in general, it has seen a remarkable revolution in the past couple of years, say in four five years, it has really come alive, but it is still scratching the surface what can be done.
If you go back in time, let’s say ten or twenty years, even, when I was in school, education pretty much looks same as it did back then, there were few more tools or resources, but there is not really a significant change.
I think, we are at cusp of really redefining how education is going to look in the future, and we want to be in one of those companies. So we are passionate about education in general, and work on the different problems in changing education.
Tell us about your team, who do you have supporting you? How did this start?
<Madhu>: We have a great team. From our past experience, we all have seen what a difference a good teacher can really make. A good teacher not only brightens the learning experience for their student, also install a sense of passion and purpose.
We all had worked in our previous company and thought of starting something in education. At that time, very little was started in edtech, we saw an opportunity in it, but there were lot of challenges in breaking into education because of the bureaucracy and established practices. We were not really sure what to go about doing there, but meanwhile, a lot of things changed. We could see there was change coming in edtech and how technology advancement could really bring about democratization of learning over all.
All these things pulled me to focus more on what we could immediately do. So we started working together as well as pulled a bunch of other friends together to start what we now have. This is roughly about four years ago, since we have made some changes to our original vision. We initially have started with a focus on K-12, now; we are more into higher education.
Previously, our goal was to democratized learning and bring great instruction to every student. We saw great need in personalized learning since two students aren’t learn in the same way. Now, we really focus on personalized learning in students.
In what different ways does Snapwiz empower teachers to create and deliver personalized learning experiences. Walk us through the details.
<Madhu>: Snapwiz is a learning based platform that combines adaptive, collaborative and instructive features to make it a personalized learning experience to student. Our platform continuously collaborative what student’s strength is and really deliver more personalized content to students to improve learning experience.
For Student’s Perspective:
Every student learns differently and has different channels as well. They are different kinds of learners in a certain way. There are multiple factors that affect a particular student state at any point of time. It is critical for somebody trying to teach something new to the student to understand that state and provide both content as well as the interaction with the student that can take him to the next level. With 30 students in the classroom, it is very difficult work for a teacher to do. Teacher cannot keep a track of what every student known and from that time cannot deliver new instruction that applies to everybody.
The solution that we are working on makes this job easy. It helps teachers figure out student’s strength and weaknesses. If required the platform will provide content pre-class to calibrate students; students might not have some pre-requisite of the current class, so that student have the opportunity to work on that pre-requisite, learn from it and come back to a state where the current instruction would make sense.
For Teacher’s Perspective:
Teachers have the opportunity to group students properly and deliver more instruction or additional resource or help students individually or group of students. From administrator point of view, they have not ability to have much more global picture how students are performing, what skills they lack or what skills they have. If there is need for a teacher instruction, standardization, professional development to ensure a standard level of learning is delivered.
We try to perform couple of different role:
- Help collaboration, so that teacher can talk to each other more effectively.
- Personalization- to deliver the right content to the student
- Provide visibility to all the participants involved, be it parents, teacher, administrator.
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How has the journey been for Snapwiz so far in the US, India and other parts of the world?
<Madhu>: The journey has been wonderful. Our learning experience as an individual to start something from scratch and get is where we are, is tremendous. It’s been a great experience with our partnership with Wiley Plus. We are expending to create more personalized courses and more personalized content that increase engagement of students.
You have implementation in US and also in India now, what difference have you seen in these two markets and what have been the challenges of both respectively?
<Madhu>: The solution that we built is generally applicable to everywhere. We have content that more into English. So, I would say, currently in English-speaking country, we are explicitly trying to leverage best solution in US and India market. The basic need in both these markets is very similar. They have very similar kind of student, teacher, parents and administrators relationship, though, at administrator, you started seeing some differences.
Well! There are large differences as well, education in US is primarily government funded, whereas, it is largely private in India. This thing brings about a lot of challenges not really with product but more really how the whole business works, who pays for it and what is every participate in the ecosystem looking to get out of it. There is lot of accountability at an administrator level in the US. You have school principals, school districts. In India, I think, it’s a little bit different at the administrator look at to the certain degree but there is no government oversight on those numbers. So the learning process is slightly different.
One of the big changes is, how data privacy is critical for us, very safely guided in the US, but it is not so well-guided in India.
Overall, there are from a product point of view, we have a lot of similarities with couple of differences how we need to go about it. But there is huge opportunity in both markets. The company need to be little bit different in both these markets, the value proposition should be little bit different to ensure that as a business, you can succeed in the market.
What is the biggest need for your startup?
<Madhu>: That’s a good question. I think the biggest need for us is probably content that is good- that needs to change and adapt to users specific. Our biggest need would be to have content and some level of curation on top of it, to be able to leverage that content within our platform.
The schools we work with allow our solution and really asking for more specific content to be made available on the platform for them to work on. This is something we are actively working on, as far as the other aspect of business, whether it is financial, funding development, etc. Those, I think, we are more or less comfortable with. At this point in time, we are profitable and rapidly growing company.
What/Who motivates you? Any thought leader or companies with innovation which you follow for success?
<Madhu>: Certainly, being in edtech is extremely exciting while at the same time pretty challenging as well. The challenges are primarily is, as technology entrepreneur what you build by itself can only do so much to influence the leaning outcome of the student. Content is the integral part of the solution as well as adoption and appropriate use all the people that are involved. End of the day, you are helping every student to reach their full potential. It gives satisfaction that you have created a product and people are using it and they like it and provide feedback.
What are the future plans for Snapwiz?
<Madhu>: We have come a long way back, now edtech is all about data, machine learning, is about personalized learning experiences, changing content dynamically, suites the need of students. So there is so much more that needs to be done. So, it is so much more about the cutting-edge of understanding machine learning, artificial intelligence to provide those personalized learning experiences for the student.
We are completely focused on enhancing our solution to serve the ultimate need to understand the student. Our focus to the next year is really on users’ accusation for K-12 as well as undergrad segment in our partnership with our publishers. We want to focus on adoption meanwhile work very closely with teachers, students, administrators and to create a solution that they really want.
Watch and listen to the entire interview video here.
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