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Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Chief Consulting Editor's Desk
Rajita Chaudhuri
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One of the first movers in the online knowledge space for school children, meritnationís co-founder Pavan Chauhan shares his remarkable journey with 4Ps B&M

How did the idea of an online education company come into your mind?

Our foray into the online education space coincided with a time when the education landscape in India was changing rapidly. Ritesh and I worked for ten years in a successful brick and mortar educational set-up before we started to feel restricted by the potential of reaching out to students only through offline centers. As teachers and counselors, having been in this line for so many years, we understood the limitations of the classroom based delivery method which catered to a group of students as a whole rather than addressing their individual needs.

We believed that with accurate problem assessment, an average student can be turned into a self motivated and successful learner. With this in mind, we started scanning the education landscape and found that the online K-12 segment was largely untapped and could be a great opportunity for us business wise and of course, matched our calling in life. So in 2009, we launched the learning solutions portal meritnation.com and leveraged technology to identify and understand each student’s specific requirements and provide them with customized content.

Are online courses soon going to make textbooks obsolete?

There are different types of learners. Some like to read and understand the concept, others like to watch and listen, while there is another category that likes to learn through demonstrations and animations. Books are vital to the learning process but they alone cannot cater to all these types of learners. Virtual education content is increasingly becoming more effective and intelligent and is filling this gap effectively. Today, software is even capable of adapting to the ways in which individual students are acquiring information. The online medium of learning is definitely a far more enriching, engaging and flexible medium. It is even more effective with respect to time and money.

Further, because these online courses are developed by experts in the field and regularly updated, they never run the risk of becoming outdated or obsolete. Both the self study and live class courses at meritnation have been specially designed by experts keeping in mind student attention spans and their unique motivations, to make learning a fun and engaging experience for them.

Yet, another factor that is making the online medium an increasingly preferred mode of learning for students is the convenience of having everything that they need to study – all notes, test papers and study material – readily organized, just a click away.

Is tech-based learning more effective than the traditional form of learning?

Tech-based learning helps you to assess and analyze your problem areas far more effectively and accurately. For example, meritnation has an assessment tool that accurately points out the exact level at which the student is facing a problem in understanding the concept. It provides personalised reports to students after every test which highlight their strengths, weaknesses & time taken across various topics. This allows the students to focus on eliminating their weaknesses instead of studying all topics.

Technology also helps to bring in social learning and gamification elements into the teaching-learning process making it more effective and fun.

Tell us something about the model that meritnation follows?

meritnation aims at inculcating a 360 degree, year long, concept building approach towards studies, using live interactive classes and video tutorials to make the student understand a topic thoroughly.

We have a freemium model where students get to sample free NCERT and popular textbook solutions and get their doubts resolved by our panel of subject matter experts through our hugely popular Ask & Answer forum. We have over 16 lakh questions and 40 lakh answers in the forum. Demo video tutorials, live classes, tests, reports etc are also made accessible for the students to sample the website. To gain complete access to all the resources, however, one has to go for an annual paid subscription. The content is available for students studying in the CBSE, ICSE/ISC, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu Boards.

What is the process that goes behind uploading each lesson on the site?

Several specialized teams come together to make available the content that you see on the website. The content team breaks down chapters into concepts after referring to a vast repository of study material and then maps them into separate grade-subject combinations to age and class appropriate curriculum. New textbooks and chapters are also defined in the database and then tests, practice questions etc are added. Each chapter goes through a thorough quality check before being synced to the live database and provided to the students.

Meritnation is not just about online tutorials but it’s also about a lot of fun and interaction with fellow students. Do these things impact learning?

At Meritnation, we believe in completely debunking the myth that learning has to be a serious, one-sided affair. Learning is a pretty complex process, and when you analyse the process of learning, concentration stands out as a major criteria for a better understanding of the concept, and remembering it long enough to apply it in daily life. If a topic is explained through an interesting video, the learner is less likely to lose focus and is more likely to remember the concept because of the application of the concept shown in the video.

meritnation does not want learners to worry about or waste time trying to collate study material, reference books, revision notes etc. They can easily find all of these on the website and can connect with not only experts for academic doubts or queries, but can also chat with their friends on our social pages. Our school pages help connect students across school and allow them to create study groups, download and upload important class work, notes, test papers etc with each other.

When students study together and discuss a topic with their friends, they tend to remember the concept better, and we at meritnation have successfully introduced various social learning elements to make the learning process fun and engaging.

How have online platforms changed the face of education at school level?

The personalization of attention through technology by employing smart analytics and customised recommendations for the students is a major game-changer in the Indian education system today.

For example, in India, it is difficult for the teacher to track and focus on the progress of each child in a class of 45-60 students. By using e-learning platforms, teachers can now delegate the initial introduction of the topic to the website. The students can watch the video and can discuss individual problems in the class the next day. More time thus, is allotted in understanding and solving individual problems of the students.

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