In the midst of a global educational shift, resources and investment have been poured into updating the learning model. Efforts are applied towards the student experience, curriculums, building more schools, and many other aspects of the education system. Yet, despite many positive improvements, there isn’t enough focus on arguably the most important factor of all: teachers.
According to the Education Development Trust, the benefits of reducing the class size by ten students is smaller than the benefits of distributing teacher quality. As technology continues to shape the way learning happens in a classroom, teachers need simple and easy ways of upgrading themselves with new methodologies.
Being at the center of this shift, an increasing number of teachers are starting to seek out new approaches to improve student engagement and outcomes. Lesson plan exchange platforms like Teachers Pay Teachers has doubled to 3.5 million users in the last two years, and BetterLesson recently added a coaching service for teachers to help teachers plan their lessons due to high demand.
In India, Amruth Ravindranath, Co-Founder and CEO of Guru-G was working with schools and education companies on game based learning tools when he noticed this.
The benefits of reducing the class size by ten students is smaller than the benefits of distributing teacher quality. Tweet This Quote
“A common complaint that a lot of school leaders had when we introduced new solutions in their schools is that it was extremely hard for teachers to change their practices in between their already hectic schedules.” Ravindranath also noticed that “school leaders were struggling to find effective and convenient ways of helping their teachers continuously improve and reach the next level.”
That’s when he applied his background in education research and set out to build an app that helps teachers discover and adopt new practices that improve student learning. For Ravindranath and his co-founders, Anand Joshi and Shivananda Salgame, the biggest priority was to ensure that they build something that teachers use everyday and don’t have to invest any extra time or preparation.
“Too many research insights have failed to impact the classroom because it is too much effort for teachers to discover and adopt them,” he says. “Even in the best classroom in the world, there’s a huge gap between what research and insights come from the lab and what actually happens in a classroom.”
Guru-G bridges that gap by building research insights into their algorithm that recommends different teaching activities and lesson plans to teachers. Teachers can then customize these lessons based on their individual needs.
Guru-G’s refined algorithm is what makes it so effective. Based on independent standardized assessments by Aide et Action, teachers from 18 schools who used Guru-G over the course of an year saw an 86 percent improvement in student outcomes.
“These studies were done in some of the remotest schools in India, in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve area,” Amruth shared. “Unlike most EdTech products, which are first built for mainstream private schools and then scaled-down to create a cheaper version for the affordable school market, we went to the most remote and underprivileged communities first.”
Teachers from 18 schools who used Guru-G over the course of an year saw an 86 percent improvement in student outcomes.
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For Guru-G, creating a product that can work in the most challenging environments helped them to make the product applicable in diverse settings. “We felt if we start from communities which are least exposed to technology, and make them fall in love with our product in five minutes, then it means any school anywhere in the world will be able to use it right from day one.”
“The needs of teachers differ as we move across different segment of schools” Amruth admits when talking about the diversity of their reach. This prompted his team to build features that made it easy for teachers to author content and automatically make it intelligent, gamified and adaptive.
They also noticed that teachers who were already well appreciated by their students loved the analytics and personalization features in their app that helps them see how their practices are impacting student outcomes. “At the end of the day, we are simply trying to provide every teacher with a friendly mentor in the form of our app.”
Since “most of the solutions only target the top 55,000 schools in India,” Guru-G has an advantage in that it has a tested and proven solution that works well even for the remaining 80% of the market. And they are well on their way; to date, Guru-G works with over 500 schools where over 5,000 teachers are using their app to teach over 120,000 students.
The impact of their work is already getting recognized at different platforms around the country. Most recently, Guru-G won the People’s Choice Award at the Startup India event run by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Yet, for Amruth, this is just the beginning. “India has 300 million school-going kids. So the impact we are having today is really small in the larger scheme of things.” Soon, Guru-G plans to enter the global market and has already been working on a couple of pilot projects internationally. Behind their vision, is a hidden agenda that humorously Amruth reveals. “If we can empower every teacher in the world to nurture and enlighten the minds of their students, the world will be filled with people I like to hang out with, and that’s the other part that drives me.”