Ironically, at a time when I am reading a book that’s about changing the entire way education is imparted to people, I get in touch with a startup that’s addressing an issue core to the Indian education system: assessment. The MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) might have become the “in” thing for the education sector world over, but in India it seems, things will take considerable time before going the MOOC way. Till then, we’ve schools grappling with the education scenario and, startups attempting to make a dent in the education universe.
Here we have one startup, Learning Outcomes (LO), that is focused on fixing the assessment, evaluation and reporting scene. Learning Outcomes helps schools measure and monitor the learning and teaching gaps occurring within the education framework. By analyzing the information present in the routine school activities and tests, LO helps students, parents and teachers develop an understanding of the story behind the grade; just knowing the grade is not enough and it necessary to establish a remedial learning environment.
Started by Rishi Kar, an engineering graduate from IIT-Madras, Learning Outcomes did not come out as a conscious decision. Rather, it was experiences that lead him to it. Watching relatives get concerned about their children’s education, Rishi developed a strategy, implemented it on his cousins, and when it worked out, he decided to leave his job and start up Learning Outcomes. He adds that, “I could see how Learning Outcomes vision was different than the competition, how it was solving a very complex and real problem and most importantly I have always believed that if this works, the impact and value created for its end-users would be significant.”
A part of the Morpheus family, Rishi is now assisted by Aditya Kulkarni, a BITS-Pilani and IIM-B alumnus. Other team members include teachers, child psychologists, data scientists and developers. Angel investor and entrepreneurs have invested in LO as well.
Learning Outcomes operates on a subscription fee per child business model. It uses predictive analytics to understand and simulate a student’s learning potential, predict her performance and help plan for intervention by teachers and parents. The detailed analytics report helps identify learning-gaps and thus improve the quality of education imparted. With extensive use of predictive analysis, Learning Outcomes aims to shift the focus from grades and score to the overall development of the student.
From his experience, Rishi feels that schools are a challenging target segment. They provide them with very unique needs and problems, and hence creating a 100% self service solution with zero hand-holding is extremely difficult. “There is considerable hand-holding required and if neglected for the sake of scale would lead to sub-optimal usage of the product. Access to decision making authorities and getting them to look at your product in the prevailing noise is a challenge. On an average, a principal talks to ~70-80 sales reps during the months of Feb-Mar. So, it’s a tough market to be in,” he adds.
On a concluding note, he adds that just as, in business, it is not possible to rely only on the metrics of profit and revenue, we need to focus on measuring the right kind of outcomes and designing our content/assessment towards the achievement of those outcomes.