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May - 2013 - issue > siTech10 2013
Tabtor: Revolutionizing the Education System with the Power of Technology
Anamika Sahu
Sunday, May 5, 2013
The education systems around the world are stuck in the 19th century - till today.Since traditional methods of learning have always been given precedence, students who lose interest in critical subjects such as Math at an early stage are left with fewer or no choices.Since current methods tend to favor the end result – right or wrong answers – learning has become testing based instead of being fun and truly meant for understanding the world we live in. Raj E. Valli, CEO of Tabtor, and his partner Sundi Natarajan, Managing Director, Tabtor India are working to challenge the old method of learning in schools and have built a truly revolutionary educational product which helps students learn while having fun.

Raj has been very passionate about education and has been involved with non-profits in the education space for over 17 years.TiE Charter Member Sundi Natarajan joined Raj at the early stages to transform education and has been equally active as a Founder of a non-profit focused on providing education to the needy. This has helped both of them realize the impact that education has at the grass root level. Tabtor is headquartered in Kendall Park, New Jersey, with presence in the U.S. and India markets. It was incubated at Socratic Labs, an Educational Technology Accelerator based out of New York City.

Founded in 2010, Tabtor currently offers a platform for math tutoring via tablets, and prophesizes tremendous potential in other subjects too. The beauty of this product is that the platform can be used for any subject by any teacher in a school, tutoring or for any personalized learning environment. Tabtor can be directly downloaded from the Apple app store and used on iPads by consumers."We have also built solutions for schools as they are struggling from existing poor technology solutions that do not enable teachers to understand student performance at the point of learning. Teacher absenteeism and a lack of highly qualified teachers have been additional reasons for Indian private schools to adopt the Tabtor platform. Our technology helps teachers grade student performance by exception analysis, understand what is happening at the point of learning and figure out where the children really need help – all by using data analytics. We are dramatically changing what others have taken for granted – the point of learning, which has been a black box so far," says Mr. Valli. Tabtor recently signed a deal with Japan based major media publisher, Kadokawa Shoten to bring significant gamification components to its platform as well.

Passive to Active Learning

The company is completely shifting the paradigm in terms of how somebody needs to approach the problem through the learners' and teachers' perspective. Learning is typically a three stage process – someone shows you how something is done, then watches you do it and then evaluates you on how much you have learned. Given the challenges of a teacher teaching anywhere between 20-45 students in a classroom, the ability to personalize learning for each and every student is completely lost. What the student does at the point of learning – like watching someone drive a car when they get behind the wheel for the first time – is the most important moment in learning. If this moment is not observed, then no amount of after the fact feedback is going to be helpful for the student. Tabtor promises to transform the current passive mode of education into active mode through their tools and products and by enabling teachers to focus their time on teaching rather than on administrative work.

The whole process of Tabtor is based on the exemplar of personalization which is possible only on tablets. Because of the technology and scalability they have, Tabtor is able to personalize the tool at a very affordable cost. The program is currently available on iPads and Tabtor plans to make it available on Android and Windows 8 in the near future.

Tabtor for All

The company has replicated the paper and pencil philosophy on digital paper, and provides the same product in two flavors, i.e., for individuals and schools. Consumers can go online and register, and download the Tabtor platform from the Apple App Store absolutely free for two weeks. Based on the information provided during registration, the system automatically starts with a diagnostic test. Based on the performance in the diagnostic test, students are assigned a set of worksheets to solve. Every worksheet has sample solved problems explained via video tutorials that they can access anytime. Student performance in worksheets is evaluated by both the platform as well as real teachers who then assign subsequent worksheets.

The same product is already in use by a few hundred students in several schools in India where they can use tabtor in one to one or in a lab setup. Students work on iPads during scheduled sessions which enables teachers to easily identify specifics of individual student learning and allow them to provide personalized feedback to improve performance."Tabtor has now been successfully deployed in a lab setup in various schools in India where it has demonstrated significant improvement in learning among students while teachers just love the product as it has cut down the non-teaching time, access to analytics to help refine personalized learning to students," says Sundi Natarajan

However, a digital worksheet might not be enough to keep students attracted for a long time. And this is where Raj and his team came up with the idea of gamification to make the process of learning more interesting. The students can earn points for solving each problem and redeem them for points they can use within a game and get other rewards. This enables the kids to have fun while learning making it more interesting for them. "Tabtor is not just about earning points and then redeeming it. Tabtor is about transforming education from a boring and results driven process to a fun filled, interesting and innovative way of learning. Our partnership with publicly listed and manga comic fame Kadokawa-Shoten is demonstrable proof of the power of our approach," explains Raj.

The company is in talks with several content providers as well as private schools in the U.S. to build content for other subjects. Today, Raj and his team are rearing to take this product to help children and teachers around the world to leverage technology and make learning an easier and fun process.
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