The teacher’s role is redefined because of the pandemic; teachers are stepping into the shoes of a facilitator, mentor, guide, entertainer, innovator, counsellor and much more.
ORF: How is Practically changing the paradigm of education delivery?
Charu Noheria: As you can tell from our name, Practically approaches education from a very practical perspective. Practically is an immersive learning app that focuses on delivering learning via experiences. Learning is all around us, it has no limits and is effortless. Learning intertwined with immersive storytelling and real-life examples increases the retention of concepts by over 90 percent after two weeks of learning as compared to about 30 percent using traditional methods of teaching and learning. Practically delivers interactive experiences like simulations, augmented reality content and virtual reality progressive learning sets to make learning fun and sticky. We are pleased to see that our approach and philosophy towards limitless learning found a place in the new National Education Policy, which emphasises on experiential learning. This will be foundational for the next generation of learners to forge the future of India. Practically also helps teachers conduct the most engaging and experiential classes online. Teachers can ‘practically’ do everything in a Practically virtual class that they do in a physical classroom, only better.
ORF: How are you using frontier technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and others to make learning exciting?
CN: I was in Dubai earlier this year and students there have generally not seen apple and mango orchards as they are not grown locally in the Middle East. When they used Practically’s VR experience of them picking any seed and throwing it into the garden to then see it into full blown trees, they were thrilled. Imagine breaking apart all the bones of a life-size skeletal system and putting them back like a puzzle in an AR simulation. The adrenaline rush learners get while experiencing such activities is mind blowing. Practically uses reality technologies like AR and VR to bring life to learning. We also have an AI chatbot that the learner can count on to assist in their learning when the teacher is not around, like a study buddy. Our chatbot is conversational and is a knowledge powerhouse covering a wide range of academic topics and general knowledge. We also use AI to constantly monitor attentiveness levels in a virtual classroom for instantaneous feedback, alerting the teacher, to make sure the class is engaged, interactive and energetic.
ORF: Tell us how you have successfully expanded into global markets while driving a Make in India innovation initiative, and what is next on your agenda.
CN: Practically launched in India amidst the lockdown in April. The product has been very well received by all category of schools in India. Our experiential virtual classroom solution has been a mega hit with teachers. Building on this success, we have launched Practically in the West Asia and Southeast Asia markets as well and have also started onboarding some large prestigious school brands as customers and regional partners. The Gulf Cooperation Council region is turning out to be a great place for us to invest and scale our operations. Practically’s immersive animated video content can be easily localised into any language. Although the near-term plan is to expand into other English-speaking countries globally, we are also exploring with partners in countries where there is a need for content in another language.
ORF: How are you helping teachers and parents step into a new digital reality, particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic?
CN: Imagine learners doing physics and chemistry lab experiments from the comfort of their house at zero cost. Imagine teacher guiding students through an experience of creating a polymer, molecule by molecule. Imagine teachers and students being connected via a digital platform where the engagement level is at par or more than a physical classroom. The Practically experience is unique in many ways and demonstrates that ‘school from home’ is both easy and fun. Teachers and parents are no longer fighting for phones and tablets to be thrown away but are now proponents of using technology for all learning activities. At Practically, we have enabled teachers to continue teaching during these tough times. The teacher’s role is redefined thanks to the pandemic; teachers are stepping into the shoes of a facilitator, mentor, guide, entertainer, innovator, counsellor and much more. With Practically, these new-age teachers are embracing technology with ease and experimenting with newer ways of teaching, using experiential methods.
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