In some of the most remote areas of the country, the daily call for school attendance no longer involves a bored teacher ticking boxes on a register. Instead, he/she uses a tablet that also sends an immediate notification to parents, if the ward is absent from class. This is one of the many projects undertaken by SchoolCom, a Bengaluru-based start-up that aims to use data capturing and efficient analysis to simplify decision-making in schools.
The firm is the brainchild of Mangalram Purushotam and Saurabh Saxena. Saurabh says, “When Mangal returned to India after a stint in the U.S., he discovered that the lack of quick analysis of data prevented school principals from taking decisions on a range of issues. He started looking for people to build a platform that would help in this endeavour. I had just finished my engineering then and was looking for opportunities in start-ups to put my skills as a coder to use. I gave up offers from a clutch of MNCs and started working on developing SchoolCom.”
He adds, “We have grown from 3,000 students to almost a lakh within three years.” Saurabh explains, SchoolCom has developed SmartTab, a device that’s pre-fed with data on a particular school, including student records, modules, teachers, and sections. It has inbuilt Wi-Fi connectivity and syncing technology. “The device also features customisable data-capture modules that enable teachers to record data, that can be converted into simpler formats such as tables and graphics,” he says. Most of the schools that use the tab are based in areas where only 2G connectivity is available, and it helps that it works on slow networks as well. Teachers can keep a tab on the performances of their students; parents and teachers can communicate in real time, and keep track of their child’s performance.
Data stored in the SmartTab can be put to use in various ways. For instance, if the principal wants to pick a student for a Physics Olympiad, he/she can use it to find students who perform well in the subject, and ensure that he/she is chosen, instead of spending days pouring over class records and assignments.
The team is presently working on developing a new platform called Flap, that aims at making the evaluation process more interactive, by allowing teachers to create their own methods of evaluation. “Flap is a learning platform that will benefit students, teachers and parents. It is a work in progress. As more schools use technology, we hope that demands for such apps and tablets will increase.”