Schoolnet India: Democratizing Learning Across India | CEOInsights Vendor
Schoolnet India: Democratizing Learning Across India

Schoolnet India: Democratizing Learning Across India

Shourie Chatterji,  Chief Digital Officer

Shourie Chatterji

Chief Digital Officer

The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a bright light on the importance of technology enabled learning in India. Many children have suffered a learning loss and regressed in their basic language and math abilities. This is particularly true of students who did not have internet facilities, in rural and urban areas alike. Schoolnet India, an edtech company is striving to fill this gap by providing learning applications from which both students and teachers can benefit. Shourie Chatterji,Chief Digital Officer, Schoolnet India spoke to CEO Insights and discussed the technology behind the applications and the plans for the company.

Throw some light on your professional background and experiences. What drives you today as CDO?
My academic background is as an electronics engineer, but I did not work in typical engineering jobs such as the IT sectors. My first job was with Schoolnet and I rose through the ranks from an instructional design role, and then on to content development. After that, I graduated to a go-to-market role working with schools, and later assumed the PnL (profit and loss) responsibility for a zone. I have over two decades of experience and about ninety percent of it is with Schoolnet. In between, I took a break of about three and a half years to follow an entrepreneurial journey and then rejoined Schoolnet in 2016. Since then, I am driving the digitalization of our products and services and managing the internal business operations.

You possess over two decades of experience, what was your path to success and what is your success mantra?
It is important to love what you do and persist through good and bad times. This is what brings success to you and the enterprise. We embarked on our journey of bringing a technology revolution to India and diligence over a long period has brought us success.
Define Schoolnet India as an organization. What makes the company unique from competitors?
When we started in 1997, we were one of the first organizations with no benchmarks to compare ourselves against. We developed content and curriculum and the required technology and put it in the hands of the teachers in Indian schools. Our approach has been to address the entire ecosystem of learning including schools, government, and other institutions, to improve the learning outcomes of students. Our solution is a combination of device, software, and learning solutions. Teachers can use it in the classroom and provide learning materials to students through the Geneo application. We have had many competitors over time and they have gone through attrition and layoffs. We understand the space well and have been resilient. This is what differentiates us from the competition.

It is important to love what you do and persist through good and bad times

What are the major factors you take into consideration while suggesting a digital solution to educators?
The Indian education market is a pyramid. At the top of the pyramid, are the high-end schools with international board curriculum and these schools have access to current technology. The middle and the bottom of the pyramid comprise about 200 million students and a million schools. Schoolnet occupies this space. To survive in this space, we have to cater to the interests of both the government and the affordable private school segment. Our apps have to be simple and be accessible in any format, on any device, at school or home. Technology has to solve the problems of both the teacher and the student.

Please elaborate on the latest technologies adopted by the company to enable and improve the learning experience for students?
We believe every child learns differently. To encourage this, we use a technology stack that provides personalized and unique learning guidance to each child. The front end of the learning app can be a set of questions, simulations, or interactive videos. In the backend, sophisticated and complex
algorithms using AI(Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) are running to provide individualized guidance to the learner. The algorithm exposes the learner to the right content at the right time.

Schoolnet is a pioneer in terms of classroom technologies. KYAN is a digital teaching device, built in collaboration with IIT Mumbai. The device is IoT (Internet of Things) enabled and incorporates inputs from the likes of Microsoft. It is a robust device that can run in an urban environment or a difficult terrain school such as in Sundarbans.

Tell us about your recent case study reflecting your success and also give a brief account of the company's short and long-term plans?
We are a 25-year-old organization and there are many interesting case studies. I will expand on a couple of cases. During the COVID pandemic, we created the G-Shala platform for the Gujarat government. G-Shala is an e-content app for Grades I-XII. Another example is the model virtual school that we are building with the Delhi government. Schoolnet is helping them with the entire content and platform stack. Another success is the Geneo app. This app has been provided to 6,000 schools in Rajasthan and another 500 affordable private schools. This has helped children continue with their learning during the pandemic.

The short term one year goal for Schoolnet is to expand the Geneo based learning app to about 10,000 schools in India, adding five million students to this platform, and resulting in about 2,50,000 paid users. In the long term, we would like 10 million learners from the middle and bottom parts of the pyramid to benefit from the Geneo platform.

Based on your experiences, what would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs?
My advice to budding entrepreneurs, particularly in the edtech sector, is to not give up in the face of funding hurdles. Difficult times are an opportunity to double down on your ideas. If you stick with the idea, success will come.

Shourie Chatterji, Chief Digital Officer, Schoolnet India
An entrepreneur at heart, Shourie drives innovation and digital transformations across business verticals and customer segments

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