India Attracts Manufacturers Due to its Size

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AT Rajan,
Chief Marketing Officer &
Head Corporate Strategy Office, Ricoh

AT Rajan, Chief Marketing Officer & Head Corporate Strategy Office at Ricoh discusses the Indian IWB market with Ankush Kumar of Elets News Network (ENN) and the growing awareness of IWBs among schools

How do you think use of IWB & AVs has changed the teachinglearning process in schools?
The education process in schools has undergone significant changes since the concept of smart class gained ground in the last two-three years. Interactive display solution in teaching has made the communication more visual than verbal and the process has become more interactive and collaborative. Learning has started to become enjoyable and fun!
The smart class has paved the way for more adoption of technology in schools like language labs, digital library, etc. Students now are more conversant with technology and computers and applications are a part of their daily life rather than yet another subject.

Do teachers require any special training to work on IWBs?
Most IWBs from reputed manufacturers are designed on the concept of ‘appliancelike’ ease of operation, and the teacher can get used to its various functions and applications in no time. The vendors also provide training and on-site support as part of the solutions package.
However, more than IWB training, teachers require orientation training on the new approach to teaching and learning. From being instructors, teachers have become facilitators in the student’s learning process. For an experienced teacher who has gained expertise in the conventional teaching method, this shift to interactivity can be challenging and needs training for new skill sets and change in mindset. Focus is needed on teachers’ training in order to make the transition to IWBs smooth and successful.

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How has been the response from parents?
Parents in general have not been involved or exposed to this change, except in schools having high level of technology adoption, where parents can access to their children’s accounts online. Although the response from parents in cities is encouraging, we feel it could be a challenge in remote areas where awareness levels are low and there is resistance to changing the conventional methods of teaching.

Where do you think India stands vis-à-vis other countries in using IWBs in schools and colleges?
India has one of the largest number of classrooms globally, comparable only to China and US. However, in terms of penetration of interactive display solution, India ranks one of the lowest, just about two percent penetration compared to approx eight percent in China and over 40 percent in US (as per Future source data).

What are some of the challenges that you see in the market?
Indian education market has interested major manufacturers and system integrators due it sheer size and the enormous growth potential. Obviously, this has made the market fiercely competitive with buyers trying to get the best solution at the lowest price. This is evident from the data of IWB market share in India, with almost half the market comprising of “other” brands. When technology is purchased purely based on price, quality is risked, which has led to products of questionable quality being imported and rebranded in India to match the lowest price expectation on the box, without focusing the quality of the total solution, and reliability of after sales support.
But it is heartening to note that there is a growing awareness in the market, especially private schools, who evaluate various technologies before designing total student information and school management solution, focusing on quality and reliability in addition to affordability.
Although business will be good in metro cities, schools in remote villages could be a challenge, not only in infrastructure, but also due to mind set issues.

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