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July - 2007 - issue > Entrepreneur
Well-researched Education through the Internet
Michael Paulraj
Monday, July 2, 2007
It was in 1994 that Shantanu Prakash started the company Educomp Solutions Ltd to help schools set up computer labs, taking advantage of the government’s policy to encourage computer education in schools. The venture has now grown into a leading eLearning provider serving the markets in India and abroad. He had just graduated from IIM Ahmedabad when he teamed up with some friends and started an entrepreneurial venture in 1988. The reason for his foray into entrepreneurship at the very beginning of the career was, to put in his own words, “The pay packets were not seductive enough in those days.”

The first challenge he faced was mobilizing funds as banks give loans only on collaterals and Prakash didn’t have much. But Prakash was sure that the niche he had identified was set to grow at a rapid pace in the following years. He managed by availing of financial assistance from non-banking finance companies, which, of course, came at a higher interest rate. After twelve years, in 2005-2006 fiscal, Educomp had a turnover of Rs 54 crores ($13 million), while the market value of the company is Rs 984 crores ($284 million). Capital began pouring in with the U.S. buyout fund Carlyle buying a 15 percent stake in the company.

Innovative eLearning programs
Educomp specializes in creation of eLearning content, providing the e-Learning tools to the teachers and students, and management of learning. Teachers are trained in both the subject they specialize in and technology utilization. The company works hand-in-hand with schools to develop and deliver innovative course models in line with the prescribed curriculum. The company began producing digital content for classrooms and simultaneously focused on the professional development of teachers. Thus it functions as an interface between the learners and educators.

Educomp’s “Smart Class” system adds a new facet to using technology in the classroom. The educational content and teaching ideas from Educomp help teachers enhance the students’ academic performance. The technology used is simple, practical, easy to handle. The instructor-led multimedia content and instructional materials are created according to specific syllabi of the schools. The technology enables teachers evaluate the performance and growth of each student instantly.

Smart Class helps engage the student’s interest in learning while in the classroom. The students are enabled to move on to higher modes of thinking and difficult to understand abstract curriculum concepts are made easier to comprehend and visualize.

The teacher-led content system has dramatically improved effective learning in classrooms. Development of India’s largest K12 content library with over 12,000 modules of rich and varied 3D content that is in line with Indian as well as various international standards is one of the remarkable achievements of Educomp.

“Smart Ideas” are a set of well-planned innovative activities that are added in all modules of Smart Class program. Here, students engage themselves in the adventure of exploring, learning, and absorbing information in the new realms of learning and knowledge. Practical experiments, problem solving, and analysis help students organize knowledge as they learn.

The Smart Ideas program is fully student-centered and the multiple learning modules help enhance the student’s ability to grasp new things and ideas through fun-filled activities. The collaborative learning makes even passive students do well with their studies and get deeply involved in the learning community that is the classroom.

The Action Plan
Educomp provides the schools with the necessary hardware, software, books, and courseware and its trained teaching faculty handles the programs. All assets are transferred to the schools at the end of the contract that is a build–own–operate–transfer (BOOT) arrangement. The company also maintains computer labs in schools.

The digital instructional materials are teacher-friendly and are a great aid to them in implementing courses in a step-by-step sequence that is easily picked up by the students.

Prakash started Mentoraide in 2005, an online tutoring portal, where Indian mathematics teachers provide online instruction to U.S. students. It specializes in Mathematics, Sciences, Accounting, and French tutoring across various curriculums. There is a huge e-tutoring market in the U.S., especially for mathematics.

Educomp’s research and development activities are focused on evolving a researchers’ network to identify and build up strategies for dissipation of knowledge through technology. It engages change leaders to propagate its services and products.

A Pioneer Set to Rule the Classrooms
Educomp has been in the forefront of pioneering initiatives in the e-education space in India. Now the company has a virtual monopoly in the e-learning segment. The company works closely with many state and central government agencies and ministries, in addition to governments and educational institutions of other countries. Refusing to be bogged down by the failure of his e-campus web portal that he launched in 1998, Prakash stood firm and went ahead with his plan to introduce eLearning in a large-scale and has succeeded in his mission.

Prakash, Managing Direcor, Educomp Solutions Ltd is convinced that Education is the most powerful tool that can usher in social change and he deploys innovative technology to this end. He believes that making education available anytime anywhere through the use of Internet will bring about a universal revolution in education.

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