Designing an Offline Learning Management System(LMS)
I was hired by CXOs to translate their vision into final designs. I was responsible for designing the technology framework and leading the design and development front of the project. I was directly reporting to COO and CEO.
Teachopia aims to empower rural government school teachers and students by providing them quality content, mapped to their context. My work focused on finding the right strategy and solution to achieve this mission. I lead entire project team towards the stated goal based on our CXOs vision. In order to on-board new partners and hire talented individuals, my major goal was to create a 'proof of concept' in the shortest time.
Being the only designer at a small startup taught me a lot of valuable lessons. Learning how to collaborate with CEO, COO and engineering team to deliver a successful product was an important highlight.
Designing Technology Framework for facilitate Experiential Teaching-Learning process in Indian Government Schools
A completely offline web-based application to deliver activity-based teaching and learning resources to government school teachers and students. It is designed for Indian School context and made rural-India ready.
Currently, the project is being piloted by 15 Government schools in Karnataka State. It is touching the lives of around 50 government school teachers and 750 students. The project is also a keystone for pan-India scaling of this teaching-learning platform.
Caring with Colour is a Non-profit Education initiative by Manasi Kirloskar aimed towards promoting education through experience and discovery. CWC needed a technology framework and solution design to support their mission for Indian Education System.
We need to work within the system constraints of Indian Education system and policy as we are planning to implement the solution in Government Schools.
Because of the recent advancement in technology, nearly anything is achievable from software development viewpoint. We need to be conscious of using technology only as a tool and focusing on augmenting human interaction through technology.
Our target audience belongs to laggards and last majority in the innovation cycle. Their technology exposure and understanding of standard interactions is very limited. Their concerns and aspirations needs to be understood before devising any strategy.
Question of the Day was designed for gaining unfiltered access to organizational ideologies and shaping a positive culture of idea meritocracy. QOD also acted as a ground for debate and informal interviews.
It has four major stages.
Based on previous findings and available participants, frame questions which inspire different opinions while remotely being connected to the larger project brief
Find visually accessible place to write today’s question on big white board. Making sure that participant see this question
Make everyone comfortable in sharing their opinions and start nudging the discussion in research direction. Simultaneously, document different thoughts on white-board
At the end, synthesize all the discussion to frame next QOD discussions. Document Key learnings from the discussion.
There are multiple ways in which a system can be studied but considering all the project constraints, time will always be a critical criteria. Hence, it becomes crucial to focus on a particular zone while conducting a system study.
The core of school education was identified as the relationship between adult/facilitator/teacher and learner/student. Therefore, this relationship was the focus area. The idea was to study different sub-systems and elements which affect this core relationship.
Indian Government has invested a large amount of their time and resources into drafting education policies and ensuring its intended implementation. If any organization aims to work within the system boundaries, they need to align their solution with education policies. While talking to key persons in education sphere and conducting primary research, we discovered that current government is facing challenges with implementing their stated education policy. Hence, It is a great leverage point for our organization while scaling the solution pan-India.
Similar to other systems, Education system also has several systemic challenges and issue and no one person or solution can mitigate all the issues. But while researching, we realized that if we remove all the peripherals and focus only on teaching-learning process then teachers and students are at the center of entire space. Most importantly, education policies has provided a lot of autonomy to the teachers in terms of their classroom teaching.
The study also revealed emerging patterns of curriculum influences, biological influences and industrial influences in shaping our education system. These patterns point in the direction of more expansive and intuitive learning methodology which is rooted in holistic development of a child. Indian Education policy promotes one such methodology called Constructivism. It argues that learners construct their own knowledge and there is no absolute information that one needs to rote-learn.
Most of the Education Innovations are designed for a very specific controlled environment (either a countryside private school or an expensive creativity summer camp). But approx 78% of primary school students go to Government schools in India. We need to design a solution which is Rural India ready and aims to improve the teaching-learning process in Government Schools.
Indian Education Policies like NCF,2005, points to holistic development of learner. It also documents the need for constructivist teaching-learning methodology. But the real bottleneck lies in its implementation. At school level, the essence of these education policies is barely understood.
Instead of having all the system-level challenges, we can still figure-out a healthy classroom learning environment and a toxic environment. A teacher has the autonomy to form his/her own classroom environment. If used correctly, this autonomy can make a difference.
Teachers are bombarded with new information and latest training but nothing was designed for their context or mapped to state curriculum. Ideas were great in isolation but they had very little idea about how they can use it in their classroom.
"Why should I learn Maths Sir? I like to paint." These kind of questions are much deeper than we realize. Majority of the students think that they need to study to pass the exam and education is limited to textbook,classroom and homework.
Students find their everyday classes extremely boring. Bright students feel that the teacher is teaching too slow and slow-learners feel it to be too fast paced. After sometime, they stop participating in classroom discussion and find another pass-time.
Although Indian tradition accepts and celebrates diversity, our education system does not reflect this philosophy. At an early stage in life, students are made to learn that there is only "ONE RIGHT ANSWER"
For Teachopia application, digital Content is structured similar to the State Textbook format. It makes it easier for school teachers to find the relevant content.Entire Content is mapped to textbook chapters which means that it can provide multiple ways of teaching/learning the same lesson. Final content is flagged in two ways- 1. Teacher-facing (How-to videos, teaching strategies) 2. Student-facing (Activity videos, simulations, interactive worksheets)
As an organization, we ventured into developing contextual teaching and learning content for Government Schools. Now, we needed a scalable platform which can deliver this content to remote rural government schools in India. We narrowed down on a system where we can setup completely offline local servers and connect all server to cloud for periodic analytics update.
We first need to attract critical mass of users and fine-tune the system for any operational issues. Our target audience has very little technology exposure and we can help them by minimizing their learning curve while using our system.
After teachers start adopting this platform, we can move forward to educating our users about advance level features in the technology. Users will be more receptive of new features and we can introduce deeper user interactions.
We can now leverage the community which has been created over time and focus on enriching the relationships through technology. The platform can be co-created by organization and community together.
This project exposed me to the startup culture where there are no distinct boundaries of work and I can take responsibilities of several domains.
While conducting field research, it was really challenging for me as I was not familiar with Karnataka Culture and their language. The challenge inspired me to developed several ingenious methods which will help me navigate similar challenges in future.
Teachopia also helped me hone my leadership skills as I was responsible for translating all the design into final products.
It gave me an opportunity to handle multiple stakeholders as I was responsible for pitching this project to key personalities from School HMs to multiple NGO heads and Company directors.