August, 18, 2020
COVID-19 has sparked a worldwide shift in today’s education structure. As countries work hard to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, teachers and EdTech (Education Technology) entrepreneurs across Sri Lanka are bracing themselves for the ‘new normal’ in education. From the good old e-learning courses to digital communication, EdTech has evolved at an unprecedented rate. And people are wholeheartedly embracing this new model of education in every facet of life.
In such a context, Ada Derana Biz spoke with Chaminda Silva, Managing Director of Yara Technologies—the company behind the fully integrated EdTech Ecosystem, ‘Talkative Parents’. Here is an excerpt of his interview where he speaks about the great value proposition and unique features which Talkative Parents offer schools, pre-schools and other educational institutes.
Q: What problem is your EdTech platform solving?
A: With a ‘new normal’ emerging due to Covid-19, Schools are moving into blended learning with a significant technology overlay. We believe that technology-led enablers need to be geared to assist educators in teaching seamlessly and not the other way around. From a student/ parents perspective, such platforms need to be more inclusive in terms of being easy-to-use, accessible even with a low-cost smart device and be efficient in data consumption.
The gap of not having a unified integrated EdTech Platform, which brings together school communication, e-learning, document management and school fee payments, leads to inefficiencies and creates an admin burden for the educators. What this means is that teachers who are not tech-savvy enough, have to learn, use and check multiple platforms. Furthermore, many of today’s schools are faced with challenges in effectively communicating with parents due to the lack of a formal school communication channel. This pain point is further magnified by the usage of fragmented, unreliable channels such as social media, email, traditional paper-based communication and one-way SMS.
Q: What is the value proposition of your EdTech platform “Talkative Parents”?
A: The primary problem we are addressing is fragmented communication channels between teachers, parents and students. ‘Talkative Parents’ has been able to successfully connect schools, teachers, parents and students via our integrated platform. The platform facilitates controlled two- way communication between school and parents, a virtual classroom for e-learning and school fee payments via the app.
Further, teachers are burdened by the requirement to access multiple platforms to conduct e-learning in what has become a day-to-day activity in the current avatar. We believe in enabling teachers with a simple easy-to-use technology solution, that minimises the barrier for teachers to use e-learning technology and help focus more on their core strength which is educating students.
Talkative Parents allows teachers to address the problem by facilitating digital engagement with parents and students - i.e. assigning/ grading homework, conducting video/ audio conferencing classrooms and interactive learning sessions via a unified, easy-to-use portal.
Naturally, the platform adds value to the education ecosystem specifically in developing nations such as Sri Lanka, given its ease-of-use, accessibility even with a low-cost mobile device, low data consumption and alignment to the requirements of educators in this part of the world.
Q: What are the key features and use cases of Talkative Parents?
A: Our ecosystem is multi-faceted and at the same time, fully integrated.
The cross-communication platform includes app messaging, SMS and email connecting the key stakeholders - the school, teachers, students and parents. The app messages are delivered in real-time with push alerts ensuring timely communication. The platform facilitates multi-language communication, making it increasingly inclusive for schools with curriculums in different languages. A robust onboarding process restricts access to the app only to registered parents of the school.
The app’s digital calendar gives parents access to school events, examination timetables and school fee payments dates etc. All of this can be synchronised with the parent’s mobile calendar.
Furthermore, the integrated EdTech platform includes a video/ audio conferencing feature to facilitate virtual classrooms along with the ability to assign and grade homework, conduct exams and interactive teaching methods.
Q: What sort of reception have you received for the product so far from local schools?
A: The platform has been subscribed by some of the top private schools and pre-schools in Sri Lanka, including Bishop’s College and S. Thomas’ Preparatory School. Currently, we have over 6,000 users on the platform.
Q: What are your future plans for the company as well as the platform?
A: We have adapted to the changing needs of the education ecosystem during these times. Naturally, this has led to facilitating e-learning as a critical function for schools. As a result, we believe we are well-positioned to build on the blended learning model that would add value to schools in the future. The multi-faceted platform is helping schools make this transition seamlessly.
In the next stage, we plan to leverage on the full potency of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to derive insight into student performance management and reporting, to assist schools in analysing their data as required and come up with customised solutions while continuing to ensure complete privacy. The data analytics solutions would, in real-time, adapt to the students learning style to help students focus on areas of improvement, in the most appropriate format to maximise learning potential.
Q: Could you give us a little background about the company?
A: Yara Technologies (Pvt) Ltd [“Yara”] operates the ‘Talkative Parents’ EdTech solution. We are committed to continuous Research & Development to enhance service delivery in the education technology sector in Sri Lanka. We act as a technology enabler to facilitate inclusive and quality education for all at an affordable cost across Sri Lanka. This is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Goal on education.
The shareholders of Yara Technologies (Pvt) Ltd. are senior professionals and business leaders from top multinational companies. Furthermore, Yara is a member of the Google Cloud-Partner Program.