11 September 2015 13:55:57 IST

We want to optimise tech to improve learning, says Nirav Khambhati

Tata ClassEdge CEO hopes to tie up with progressive institutions that follow innovative teaching practices

“Education is not a scalable business,” says Nirav Khambhati. “If someone has the vision of a ₹1,000-crore company, I don’t think education is the sector to get into; there are more lucrative sectors when it comes to return on investment.”

Nirav Khambhati

Khambhati leads Tata ClassEdge, a Tata Sons company with a separate entity, that offers integrated learning solutions for schools. It is designed to help teachers deliver high-quality instruction through an effective blend of classroom activities and interactive multimedia.

The business model

“Our form is ‘for profit’. Which means we charge for our product — digital toolkits — from private schools. But we provide it at no cost to teachers at Government schools and through NGOs,” said Khambhati.

Banking on the teacher to become the catalyst and optimise technology to improve learning outcomes, Tata ClassEdge is mapped to State boards, CBSE and ICSE curricula. It is based on the Multiple Learning Experience (M-LEx) Model, an instructional model created by Tata Interactive Systems.

“The solution is currently implemented in over 12,000 classrooms across the country. We hope to make a significant difference to the learning outcomes for 10 million students, every year, by 2025,” he says.

At present, revenue and market share is not driving the company.

“Our strategy is to identify progressive institutions, which are inclined towards innovative teaching practices, imbibe their learnings and sharpen our toolkit to build a strong foundation,” he says.

The aim

With the rapidly changing social context, students need to learn skills such as collaboration, leadership, teamwork, communication, and problem-solving, apart from conventional education. Khambhati shares a few examples on how Tata ClassEdge aims to achieve these results.

“For example, take Indian history. The revolt of 1857 can be taught by narrating the incident or giving students the teacher’s interpretation. However, we recommend an activity where you divide the classroom into three groups, with each group representing Indian sepoys, the East India Company, or a neutral group — say, the French. The teacher then asks children to present the case from the perspective of these three groups. This helps children develop critical thinking.”

Removing soft biases

Through its learnings, the company also wants to remove the soft biases that students sub-consciously imbibe.

“Even minute things like depicting a woman in the kitchen instead of a man, or portraying a farmer wearing a worn-out lungi and not jeans, create biases in the child’s mind.”

The company is also reaching out to partners to develop toolkits for areas such as literature, civics, computer science and other subjects.

“We are actively seeking out tie-ups for creating awareness around civics, sexual harassment and gender orientation. Liberal arts are also an opportunity. With too much focus on engineering and medicine, we are not producing enough professionals in the liberal arts.”