`As the only animation house in the field of educational content, we have been able to compile a huge volume of data- 135 gigs of top drawer quality animations. Eureka, Designmate`s core product and the dynamic teaching aid, with its 3D animation, helps students in grasping complex scientific concepts relatively faster.`
The present day innovations (like that of Designmate`s) in education, challenge the present pedagogy and schooling system. What are you views on this?
Your statement is both true and false. Eureka, our futuristic software, or an innovation as you put it, does not really challenge the pedagogy and schooling system. Whatever innovation that any producer introduces has to be within the present system, to be acceptable. We as content producers or generators do have to contend with the inherent resistance, which is a part of the dynamics associated with any change.
The basic concept of Eureka is to be a tool for the teacher, to put across complex topics, for easy comprehension. Individuals, especially children, find it difficult to perceive and conceive in the 3rd dimension
The resistance that we face is, when some misinformed teachers forget that we have an aid to help them teach, they at times feel that we threaten their existence!
How did the Designmate journey begin? What made you interested in the educational content sector?
You maybe aware that Designmate produced India’s first 3D animated musical. Prior to that, we were one of the first to do 3D graphics work for Ad clips. My studio had the expertise to produce the best and most complex animations that could be done. When it came to marketing our ability, we loose out to bigger brand names that soon entered the arena. For survival, we soon found ourselves doing sub contracted work for studios that took the credit without having the ability. As a smaller studio, we were doing only the complex work, not getting the monetary due and worst of all, could not claim the credits for the work. I have lost count of the Hollywood movies for which I have done the animations, but Designmate’s name does not feature in any of the credits. Most of the output has little repeat value, despite the enormous expense.
It is because of this that we decided to focus on generating content that had repeat value, for which we could retain the IPR, but yet recover our costs by reducing the price, by increasing the user base. Eureka educational movies are a result of that decision.
What are your core products? And what makes your core strength?
Designmate’s core product is animation. We are the only animation house that is in the field of educational content. We have been able to compile a huge volume of data – 135 gigs of top drawer quality animations.
Our strength is in the dedication of a very fine team of professional that we have been able to build up. We started almost seven years ago, which is a long time in this industry, but we are able to keep abreast of the hardware and software developments in this trade. This I feel is our biggest strength; to provide to our users the latest in technology.
What are the specific issues within the sector of ICT enabled education in schools that you think your product can address?
Eureka is a state-of-the-art product. It incorporates the latest technologies that are available for ICT enabled education. It is a dynamic teaching aid, around which a school can build up its infrastructure. The school can start by using Eureka on one machine and gradually expand the use of ICT. Eureka, with its 3D animation, will help the students to grasp complex scientific concepts relatively faster; this in turn will enable the staff to cover the syllabus faster and better; thus giving the school time for other non formal, but never the less important educational activities. There is also a limit to the number of models and aids that a school can accumulate. Eureka portrays every experiment and every item of equipment given in the text book. The animations in Biology are accurate and true.
Dr APJ Abdul kalam, the President of India, recently awarded Designmate as the best employer of 2006 in India for hiring the highest number of persons who are differently-abled (67 out of more than 100 employees). For this company, the only ability required is knowledge of the English language. And it is no problem if one doesn’t know the language, because the company runs its own English training class for employees free of cost, Brar explains.
What is the biggest setback to the digital educational content Industry in India?
Infrastructure is the biggest setback. Lack of power and broadband connectivity are the two biggest stumbling blocks. Until and unless these two utilities are in place, we are touching less then 4% of our population; ipso facto all talk of ‘bridging the digital divide”, etc. is empty and hollow.
Second is the mindset of the decision makers. In education and parenting, one needs to steer clear of a major stumbling block – we tend to give the child what we feel is good for the child; We tend to overlook that our ‘feeling’ may not be relevant.
What is the USP of Designmate, and how far that has been able to position you uniquely in the market?
The simplicity and ease of usage is Eureka’s USP. The software can adapt in a 5 star environment or in a single classroom village school – literally ‘under the banyan tree’ with the same facility and utility.
Have you ever tried to read the e-Learning market in India in terms of potentials, chances for deep penetration, proving the winning status to your company, etc.? Where do you find yourself in this evaluation, if actually did?
Deep penetration in India is possible only by getting entry to Government schools. It is our vision that our software should be in every Government school in India, especially the ones under the banyan tree. But we are unable to offer this price for 1000 – 2000 schools. We have the product, its front-end, back-end bi-lingual facility can revolutionise Government funded education in India. So we are trying.