The Online Learning ecosystem consists of a learning and teaching community, where it plays the role of three components as building blocks of the ecosystem. The discussion was framed to provide rich insights into the dynamics of various critical success factors embedded in an Online Learning ecosystem. Embracing the online system is simplistic as embracing the magic. This platform not just connects people all over the world but provides youth with the right opportunity to broaden their minds in terms of Online Learning.
The first Panel discussion comprised of panelist; Mr. Vipul Redey, Head of School, Khan Academy; Ms. Kajol Jha Thakur, Associate Director at Glocal Pvt. Ltd.; Mr. Sakib Bin Rashid, Chief Strategy Officer at Robi 10-Minute School from Bangladesh; and Moderator; Prof. Ujjwal K. Chowdhury, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Adamas University.
Mr. Chowdhury started the discussion by describing what makes online learning effective. The discussion was based on how the quality of education can be improved and online learning is embraced to enlighten the effective learning process. He added that online learning is a peripheral of the life. Online has created avenues not just to interact, not just to make friends but to learn and implement it for life.
Mr. Sakib Bin Rashid, Chief Strategy Officer at Robi 10 Minute School started his opening comments on the theme– “Embracing the Online Learning Eco-system”. He explained that it is a time we are all trying to connect to each other to learn and empathize together because everyone’s problem has never been more similar to this as all are stuck at home trying to figure out how to solve the emerging problems differently.
He mentioned that education needs to be dimensional. There is always a need to find out alternatives. In that regard, online education has become so relevant. He shared that we have understood the future of education probably has a lot to do with how to become digitally self-sufficient. The first thought of conversion in education is required and it has triggered those people who have been saying education needs to be physical and needs to be in a classroom. He added some points to give information about 10 Minute School. To mark his points, he figured out that good quality education was only available in the capital which is a challenge. However, better digitization and the internet with digital conversion can really help solve the problems.
Mr. Vipul Redey, Head of School, Khan Academy described how Khan Academy was formed; how it’s revolutionizing school education and explained how school education can be radically different when online content comes in.
He mentioned that when we use online learning there’s a couple of things that we have seen and starting to get to the tipping point in terms of quantity. So, everyone is using online resources to learn but there is also a qualitative aspect of it. Basically, teachers, parents, and kids are starting to understand. Online education is a personalized tool. Secondly, there is a massive growth mindset to what Khan Academy has to offer, pushes you to do more with yourself and it doesn’t let you give up easily and it is encouraging. Lastly, it’s data-driven; so, it’s not based on someone’s opinion or subjective point of view. It is very much based on your performance and in terms of where you stand and what you need to do next to grow.
Ms. Kajol Jha Thakur, Associate Director at Glocal Pvt. Ltd;
Talking about Nepal’s specific experience and discussion in online learning, Mrs. Thakur shared, since 2014 with the inception, they have been working in bringing the stories of people, with the achievements and failures and a lot of other efforts. Throughout all these processes, we realized and recognize the importance of skills and learning in different capacities. This is something that needs to be addressed, which led us to start Glocal After School.
Glocal is dedicated to developing the skills among people through the use of various methods, events, courses, training, and the ultimate vision of GAS is to bridge the gap between the industry and academia by curating and initiating different demand-oriented learnings and training.
We have been providing skills, training on physically with the collaboration with educational institutes. We also added a tagline- “While Isolated, Let’s get skilled” and initiated Online learning practice connecting the dots and we are majorly focused on developing the Online learning community.
She added- “We have developed different courses, collaborated with different teachers, trainers and we refer them as Online Gurus. The collaboration was led with a thought to bring different courses, online training, activities, engagements to develop skills not just for their personal life, but these types of online engagement do favor them in setting their career goals, in their professional life too. This is how the journey has gone and day by day it has been increasing and now the online learning concept has been embedded”.
In the present scenario, there are realizations in people’s mindsets regarding the utilization of time. Therefore, an online learning approach can be adopted as per their feasibility, to gain skills. There are no barriers and that is what GAS has been trying to do and adapting to all the new global techniques. We strategized on building a skilled manpower community here in Nepal.
Moderator: How to get enrolled in Khan Academy? What are the ways?
Mr. Redey: Mr. Redey explained that there is no concept to enroll in Khan Academy. Basically, there is a concept to create a free account just to enable the personalization of entering your email address. After creating an account, one can access personalized factors where Khan Academy gives an idea of how it is done. In terms of navigating the content one needs to master or consume, there is a couple of ways. He added Khan Academy curated content for India, Peru, the US, and boards in Brazil, Peru, Chile, etc. He explained that to use Khan Academy, one needs to identify the content they are looking for, go through similar problems in Khan Academy and bookmark it so that they can use it in the future.
Moderator: The content in Khan Academy is country neutral or syllabus Neutral as per subjects like Science, Mathematics, and so on and how do you plan to make the content relevant to each nation’s syllabus requirement?
Mr. Redey: Mr. Redey clarified that the prime focus for Khan Academy in the future is in Maths and Science. He gave an example. He said- “In some syllabi, you may teach Ratio and Proportion in grade 8/9/10, some syllabi 5/6/7 or other. You will not find syllabi where it is not taught. So essentially what you will find is that the bulk of the content on Khan Academy is the benchmark as we have 60 million people in 190 countries using these resources as it covers all the requirements of learning and common syllabi across the countries which are very universal. You get to learn about Amoeba, learn Algebra Geometry, and the same chemical reaction. All these things are fairly generic regardless of which syllabus you are in.”
Given that fact, learners can find out what they are seeking. There are exceptions as well. The students also can come to Khan Academy and request specific content that is not available in Khan Academy. Cathy, the other participant of the conference acknowledged Khan Academy and shared that it has helped her to the extent that she never felt board exams were a pressure.
Moderator: What are the facilities that one can get from Khan Academy?
Mr. Redey: Upon being asked about the facilities, one can get from Khan Academy, Mr. Redey explained that the most important thing that one comes in Khan Academy is for content. Content is in two forms. One is when you learn something for the first time. It’s usually videos and few articles, that also in a very short form way. There are practices, sort of examples, unit tests, quizzes, that will help you to drill concepts. As far as content is concerned, there is one layer on top of that where you will be able to get an understanding of what you have mastered; one needs to work to fill the gaps in the learning process.
He also shared that Khan Academy have good tools for teachers as well. Khan academy is available in 40 languages. He explained that in India, English content is incredibly popular. For some schools that are not much polished in English, there are other language preferences. Mr. Chowdhury added language should be generic.
Moderator: What impact do you think emergency emerges Online Learning and what can be the long-term impact of this online emersion?
Mr. Rashid: Mr. Sakib from 10-Minute school urged that the biggest necessity is an emphasis on research. Even the biggest organization that initiated eLearning platforms started out of their own experiences. He explained that his team tried and tasted changes where some worked, and some did not work. He believes Online Education urges academia people to focus on online mechanisms. The demand created 10 minutes because a lot of people outside Dhaka understood that they needed that platform, as a result, a lot of people were flocked to it very immediately.
He highlighted that delivering a lesson online is simple, but the difficult part is the assessment. They need to work on what kind of assessment is needed, what technology to use. However, they push their teachers to be more transparent to students and accountability needs to be taken care of.
Finally, he added that shifting to online learning and education creates more accountability for teachers and educators which leads to making them more prepared and accountable.
Moderator: Are there any ways to collaborate with Khan Academy? If yes, how?
Mr. Redey: He said there are ways to collaborate with Khan Academy. They believe most localized efforts for Khan Academy are grassroots efforts. One can create content for Khan Academy. He added Khan Academy will give them some guidelines, quality checkpoints and if it is good enough, meets quality check, Khan Academy is always happy to link to you. If you want Khan Academy in Nepal, we always welcome you. We will provide you expertise, guidelines, and learning’s to make this process a very effective one.
Moderator: What been your challenges of creating, delivering, and engaging the learner in your 10 Minute School? What’s your business model?
Mr. Rashid: Mr. Sakib from a 10-Minute school was asked about his business model. For answering this question, he had a story to share. He shared that at initiation days, his team was extremely inspired by Khan Academy. They collected a few teachers together, either coaching tutors or academic teachers. They created a Facebook account and a YouTube channel through which they made the teaching-learning process more accessible among the students. Slowly, the demand created, people understood that they need this, and they could grow.
He also shared their business model runs in Sponsorship. They have a couple of online platforms and the Government has been their biggest support. They have an alternative revenue stream so that they can keep learning platform free of cost. They charge services for mobile applications, as they have built a complete online training solution.
He explained that they have created alternative revenue streams so that they can keep the mainstream learning platform free of cost. The services they charge for; when we develop a mobile application for students with a lot of critical algorithms, learning algorithms e.tc. We figured these algorithms to create training platforms for corporations. Apart from that, all the mainstream courses will remain free and will have business to business and will have some courses. For in the paid model and that’s how we make money. The most interesting part is our human resources are mainly led by students. The incentive for students for working here is first they get to learn a lot of things.
Moderator: How you are developing online content for courses? How you are planning to involve your content, training, and would you be partnering with established players already in this domain of online training. So, what is your strategy moving ahead?
Mrs. Thakur: Collaboration is always good we are always positive towards it. We have already collaborated with the Eton-X school in London. They have online ventures of learning. We have brought some basic schooling, basic skills that can be brought and taught to the students at a very minimal price. The prices are high, but we have tried our hard to reduce it into a minimal cost to bring it into our market. We are still looking for other collaborations.
Second, about the course; we have a course curation team that does research on what are the needs of the learners in the present time. We have been working in the field of training, initiating Glocal After School since 2017, through different events and engagements. We have learned that there are a lot of students who are lacking basic skills; E.g. MS word skills, CV making skills, email etiquettes, as such. They are good at Academics but still, they have poor skills of public speaking, creative writing. In our traditional teaching methodology, students are lacking these things, so we are trying to provide these skills. Our team researched it searched out the professional who could provide such training to the students who need it. We connect the person who needs it with the one who can help them to gather knowledge about these things.
We make content from the basic level to a higher level and help them to use them in real life. We collect the people who have used the knowledge in real life so that they could help the students to share their ideas, their mistakes on using the skills in relation to life.
We, in these past two months, have run live classes going on with professionals and students with minimal cost. The lockdown has been loosened up somewhat, so we are trying to create a recorded course so that we can share it with the students who can easily access it from home.
Moderator: What would you suggest to Nepal? What support and role can Khan Academy bring in for Nepal and youth to ease their hunger to learn?
Mr. Redey: Khan Academy is a platform to learn and a platform to teach. Some of the things you basically get when you use this platform include sort of personalized data-driven way of teaching which is very different in a way. Basically, it is providing a platform that can scale almost infinitely.
If you think about the education problem from the standpoint, not enough people are getting a quality education. Then you start to find the platform that can ease your hunger to learn. If you think about how this might actually be brought to bear in making a difference, and really moving the needle in terms of the quality of education imparted in Nepal, you might think about how you can actually take this broad. It does not have to be just schools that use it, it could be basically organizations that go on their own and start and teach quality education.
He said- “Girls whole school got bombed by Taiwan & Afghanistan are still studying in Khan Academy, refugees in Syria, where there are no schools, they can attend are using Khan Academy. I am sure there are lots of people in your country that need education, they can be benefitted using this platform.” There needs to be a smooth linkage between those that need and those who provide.
Moderator: How can you bring in the experience in 10 Minute School and the best practices you are putting in the Nepal context?
Mr. Rashid: We have been thinking about shifting & going international for quite a while now and the first country that we wanted to work in Nepal. We would very glad to know that we have already been talking to local investors and local donors on how to set that up. We have been talking to a few schools as well if they would contribute in terms of teacher support or their classroom support as well. Other than our individual contributions, we should be able to share our experiences on how a platform was built, how the technology works and these are the things that should be free to use. The 10-Minute school would be glad to share our experiences and build our system.
Mr. Chowdhury concluded his points by saying there is a need for maturing the experiences going ahead and sharing of your mutual experience is always very important to grow and achieve goals.
The panel discussion vocalized the efforts and prospects of Online Learning in a wider perspective.