‘Geneo offers round-the-clock remote mentor support to students’
IL&FS Education & Technology Services Ltd. (IETS) recently launched its online learning platform, Geneo. The platform offers free personalised learning through curriculum-aligned content for students of class 8 to 10. In an interview with The Peeper Times, R.C.M. Reddy, MD & CEO, IL&FS, tells us why they are confident about the success of Geneo despite the stiff competition in the online learning market.
1. You recently announced the commercial launch of your K-12 digital learning platform, Geneo. Can you tell us about it? How is it different from the other online learning platforms available in the market?
Well, Geneo uses the app-cloud model to provide curriculum-aligned digital curated content from the best of sources at an affordable price point. It offers round-the-clock remote mentor support and is accessible on mobile phones, laptops, PCs, tablets and Chromebooks. The app-cloud model helps in a seamless experience, while accessing the content, thus enhancing the learning experience. The app has both free and payable content to choose from and focusses on developing a life-long pathway for students. Besides, the app is based on the methodology called LARA – Learning, Application, Revision and Assessment. The diverse tools, in the app, have been designed keeping in mind the fact that there are different kinds of learners. Need-based help is available from nationwide experts anytime and anywhere. Ease in operation, cost-effectiveness, diverse and interactive virtual resources such as teacher-led videos, exploriments, 3D models and virtual labs serve as additional USPs.
2. At present, the platform supports only three subjects. Are you planning to include other subjects as well?
The current version of Geneo caters to class 8, 9 and 10 students offering assistance in maths, science and english. The platform will, in a short span of time, be expanded to cover classes 6 to 12 for maths, science, english and social studies. Further, the next version would be AI driven, which will provide a personalised Geneo learning environment for each and every individual.
3. While the current version of Geneo is meant for students, are you also planning to get teachers and parents on the platform? By when can we expect that?
The launch of Geneo will be followed by an important phase – receiving, filtering, studying, analysing and applying feedbacks. This is, as you will agree, an important phase, as it will help in the improvisation and enhancement of the product and associated services. Once this progresses, it will see the subsequent implementation of further features, as and when deemed feasible, for introduction in the market with subsequent versions.
In six months, the teacher app, and subsequently the parent app of Geneo, will be released, which will help teachers and parents respectively to monitor the progress of their student/ child and take corrective steps, if so required, beforehand.
The role of a teacher can never be replaced as the people-to people connect established through the teacher-student relationship is vital for the all-round development of children
The suggestions mentioned in your questions, as well as other such suggestions may, hence, also be considered. I remember, when during the launch a valid point pertaining to the usage of the app by visually challenged students was raised. It is, indeed, a point vital for inclusive education.
4. You claim that Geneo is not a replacement of school teachers, but rather will complement them in teaching. A closer look at the product and it appears to be something like a personal guide/ tutor. So, are we likely to witness a disruption in the tuition segment?
The role of a teacher can never be replaced as the people-to people connect established through the teacher-student relationship is vital for the all-round development of children. Geneo’s role is to supplement the reservoir of didactic tools and methodologies, which the teacher applies in his/her class. The role the app plays is of a facilitator and not that of a substitute for a teacher.
Similarly, tuition teachers are expected to be our partners and not competitors, as Geneo will assist them in delivering classes using technology, while providing access to a host of additional resources.
5. We believe the platform is free for students? How are you planning to make it sustainable in the long run?
We support the all-inclusive approach, which makes innovation available to students hailing from different backgrounds. It is for this reason that some features of the app can be used free of cost, while the premium content can be availed against payment. The latter helps strike a balance between the business and social modes.
6. This is not the only project where you are collaborating with Google? You are a premier education partner of Google for Education, India. Can you tell us about your partnership? What other areas/ activities are you two working on together?
Besides, of course Geneo, IL&FS Education and Google for Education have partnered to enable students to learn using open web technologies. The future classroom lab set-up amalgamates a digital classroom with devices such as the K-Yan or knowledge vehicle – an all-in-one device that can be used as a projector, a CD/DVD player, computer, among others – with personalised content through Google’s Applications for Education (GfE) available on Chromebooks, which are managed and secured by Chrome Management Console or CMC. The benefits of this partnership are being taken to students across India, both in government and private schools.
7. While Geneo is an online venture, last year, you partnered with Hathway for TVTeacher, an educational service channel catering exclusively to children, youth and home makers. Can you tell us about it? What has been the response so far?
TVTeacher is an educational service channel in partnership with Hathway. The channel features a combination of curriculum aligned school content, vocational education and spoken English modules, bringing schooling and education, round the clock, to every home. The channel was launched in September last year and has been able to attract plenty of subscribers within a short span of time.
Our network of 1,000 plus placement partners across sectors and locations links each trainee to a job. These are secured before the commencement of the programme
8. You are being credited with having pioneered the introduction of technology to education in the K-12 segment. Your partnership with CollegeVine was seen as one more step in this direction. How is the partnership progressing? Given the fact that in India, students and parents are more comfortable in following the traditional bricks and mortar consulting services, what kind of response have you been able to generate so far?
With rapid globalisation and digitalisation, affinity in favour of faster and more efficient services is seeing a steady climb. Of course, this has its pros and cons like everything else. However, this is an upcoming trend which cannot be ignored. Parents usually do not have the expertise or/ and the time to go through elaborate admission procedures with their children. In addition, college admission procedures are becoming complex, the student-counsellor ratio is dropping, as is the number of minutes a counsellor spends with a student. Though the partnership is in its initial phases, the response has been positive, as families feel at ease working with a vetted CollegeVine consultant, who has been rigorously trained and is part of the US education system. Through this partnership, technology, expertise, cost-effectiveness and the personal touch is being amalgamated.
9. Talking about vocational training, one of the problems associated with this sector is that the courses are too basic and short-term, so much so that candidates often land up with no jobs after completion of these courses. What is being done to address the issue? How can we tackle the problem of jobs for youth today?
Our skills interventions are based on some key principles that ensure scalability and replicability, making it a global best practice. Our network of 1,000 plus placement partners across sectors and locations links each trainee to a job. These are secured before the commencement of the programme. Our content is designed in consultation with industry partners, and is mapped to the National Skills Qualification Framework in order to make trainees industry ready. In addition, technology intervention, holistic development and on the job training ensure an all-round development. Besides, certification by the Sector Skill Councils, international awarding bodies and globally recognised assessment agencies raises the employability of students. All these factors have ensured a 75 per cent placement record since inception, with the remaining not taking up jobs due to personal reasons or embarking on an entrepreneurship mode. Most importantly, our role does not end with placement, but post placement tracking and career counselling are an integral part of our skills value chain.
10. Online learning, TV programmes, vocational training, education overseas… what next?
Our objective, as an institution focused on K12 education and VET, is to create significant impact through technology-led innovations. We will continue in our endeavour to scale the current initiatives, as well as keep on adding newer ones that would help in serving the end user’s needs.