Holistic Approach Towards Online Education : Atul Sabnis, LearningMate

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Atul Sabnis
Director, Strategic Initiatives, LearningMate

LearningMate aims to provide instant and seamless knowledge to people at any time, anywhere. Could you elaborate on the same?

In the last six years, LearningMate has made real and tangible solutions in education and benefitted hundreds of thousands of learners around the world. Online is often confused with digitising content. At LearningMate, an online experience comprises digital and interactive content, including means of informal learning as well as learning within a community that is geographically dispersed, yet learning together. All this is guided by our philosophy to provide a useful and a pedagogically relevant experience.

What do you opine about the ICT application in field of education?

In the Indian context, appropriate use of ICT in education overcomes quite a few challenges that Indian education faces, like the lack of physical infrastructure, scarcity of quality instructors and their ability to reach out to a larger audience.

At times, it is unfortunate that educational institutes look at options available in the market and need to choose the closest fit, rather than look for a perfect fit. We believe this approach limits the solution to the capacity of what is available in the market. The situation is further compounded by the lack of comprehensive solutions or options readily available in the market.

How are your products different from other similar products in the market?

LearningMate is a full-solution provider of education solutions with a key focus on online education. Solutions that LearningMate delivers are at the intersection of content, technology and services. This allows us to have a holistic view towards education problems.

At eIndia 2009, LearningMate launched Learning eXchange – our product that accumulates all our experience and expertise in a single platform. Our thoughts behind building Learning eXchange were three-fold: application, access, and affordability. The application covers all learning and teaching processes for an educational institution, the access ensures that institutes have access to world-class content from providers around the world (the eXchange), and affordability ensures that you can have your institute online within two weeks, without incurring any capital expenditure!

LearningMate works towards creating effective learning products. How can these resources enhance teaching and learning amongst teachers and students?

A textbook is a passive form of learning and has limitations due to its static format. LearningMate works to solve these issues around a textbook and allow for increased interaction for the students, better activity tracking for the teachers and allows for distributed and collaborative communication between students and teachers alike. Another way to look at this is to consider all the activities that occur in a physical classroom, make them available online and build in the tools to enhance student as well as teacher performance. Examples would include multiple assessments, instant results, remediation content for learners, archival, and performance MIS (for students and teachers).

LearningMate has gained significant experience in working with popular VLE products around the world. Our focus primarily is to extend the functionality of such systems for customer requirements. In the process, LearningMate has developed various frameworks that work with such off-the-shelf VLE products like LearningMate ACE (Assessment & Content Engine) and specialised assessment modules like adaptive, algorithmic and diagnostic testing. Further, we have used instructional design paradigms to enable easy authoring of content for such VLE products.

Can you share with us your opinion about Public Private Partnerships in education?

LearningMate is completely open for Public Private Partnerships; we are working in a similar situation outside of India to develop online products for special education needs. Public Private Partnerships are very useful to get the best of resources and technology in a sector that needs rapid growth.

LearningMate will continue building on its existing strategy to get affordable state-of-the-art products out into the market. Since the last six-months, we have focussed on bring the best-in-class solutions to the Indian market through (a) comprehensive online learning and collaboration platforms like Learning eXchange and (b) partnerships with leading content providers from around the world. Our key focus will continue to be flexibility, customisation and affordability. Good solutions don’t necessarily have to be expensive, neither do they need to take years to implement.

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