Shantanu Rooj is a serial entrepreneur who started his career with HCL- Hewlett Packard Ltd., but soon decided to quit and follow his passion of being an entrepreneur. As a first generation entrepreneur, he founded Paradyne (now called Glodyne) followed by Broadllyne and Schoolguru. A passionate education entrepreneur, columnist, investor and speaker, Shantanu currently heads Schoolguru Eduserve Pvt. Ltd.- one of India's leading Edtech companies; A teamlease Group Company. He has been featured in many reputed national- international magazines and newspapers, and he speaks extensively about his vision of the Future of Education- University 4.0 at multiple National and International Forums.
"In India, we largely felt that the way to impart formal education is only through classroom teaching- now, that definition of education has to change. We have to widen our horizon of education and say that "Education can be all around". We believe that medium does not matter as long as the faculty is engaging and interesting" said Shantanu Rooj, Schoolguru Eduserve Pvt. Ltd. while speaking to Rana Jyoti, Associate Editor, India Education Forum.
Question: Currently it is not a very good time for the world, and it seems that the face of education will totally change in the next couple of months/ will it change the face of education?
We have been talking about Future of Education all this while, and for us the future of education has always been a combination of online, in class, on job training, and we have been advocates of blended learning. If you ask me, COVID 19 has just preponed the entire thing- people have started to realise the power of edtech and the benefits that digitization of education may bring. With COVID 19 coming into picture, we have started to accept the fact that students can be taught even when they are at home. We have also started to realise that assessments can be conducted online without having to compromise on quality by using AI enabled and remote proctored tools. Maybe the coronavirus thing has come to us as a blessing in disguise, I am sure the future of education is bright.
Question: Online learning is fairly a new concept for India especially when it comes to higher education , government sector , degree programs . What kind of readiness(in terms of technology, mindset and social awareness ) do we require to make the most out of Online learning?
In India, online learning is overrated. See, online learning is as simple as accessing youtube or using facebook. So for online learning, all you need is a laptop or a smart phone along with a good internet connection- both for the person at the receiving and sending end. In education, the edtech platforms are enabling the enablers by providing setup so the knowledge can be imparted by anyone to anyone. It also lets room for collaborative, forum discussions and peer to peer learning- making learning as interactive as it was in the classroom. We have concepts like whiteboard- which adds to the whole experience, presentations can be shared- so only the medium changes, rest everything remains the same.
If schools let the students have DIY Kits, teachers can demonstrate them live. Video conferencing is a powerful and effective tool, and it is serving online education perfectly. As resources, to enable online, one needs two things- a computing device and adequate bandwidth, and luckily we have both. In India, we largely felt that the way to impart formal education is only through classroom teaching- now, that definition of education has to change.
We have to widen our horizon of education and say that "Education can be all around". We believe that medium does not matter as long as the faculty is engaging and interesting.
Question:What kind of initiative is Schoolguru taking at this moment to help HEIs?
We are trying to do our bit. firstly, we have divided HEIs into two segments, For the HEIs that have their LMS,we are helping them widen the base of it. For example-if they are using it for Distance,we are helping them shift their regular classes to online mode and helping them with content too. Schoolguru today has close to 50000 hours of audio visual content which is one of the largest repositories of content for formal education, we have given access to Universities to use our content for free. Secondly, for the HEIs that don't have LMS, we are offering them our LMS- Lurningo to use for free for three months. The platform can be accessed by students on IOS as well as Android.
Thirdly, we have rolled out a course for faculty members to understand and use Lurningo in the most effective way, the certificate course is free for educators and faculty members of the country. The best part about this is , if you get certified with Lurningo, you can operate any LMS in the country- we are enabling the enablers.
Question:Is Schoolguru doing anything for enabling lifelong learning or corporate training?
Yes, we are reaching out to corporates to help them convert their classroom led training into Virtual Training. The response is really nice, as many of the corporates have started using our platform for maintaining training for their employees. In times like these, when remote working has become the new working style, how they engage with their employees and team is very important- and our Platform can be used for that too.
Question: What steps should the government take at this point to help smooth flow of education?
I have always been saying that our education system is over regulated- the people in the education system, on the regulatory side, will have to accept the reality and then take decisions. There has to be a separation of regulators, policy makers, service providers and financial authorities. Today, HEI regulator- UGC is playing all these roles alone, which should change.
Quite recently, I came across a notification by MHRD that said, all HEIs can use top 10 online platforms promoted by Government of India, but I don't see any reason why we should restrict Universities from using other platforms, if they are good enough-rather the government should have asked HEIs to use the best and most competent LMS available in the country. One more thing that the government should do is, allow top A grade Universities to launch their online programs- this is the solution to massification of education. We have the network, and we have the mindset of the learner today available.
It is high time for regulators and the Government of India to realise the potential of online learning- and blended learning. Lastly, regulators will have to move beyond just making policies and excute them.