In a time where stepping out of our homes needs a second thought and academic pursuits being deemed non-essential, digital education is now receiving its long-awaited recognition and demand.
The pandemic has evidently opened doors of opportunities for companies in the EdTech space. And Practically (a 3rdFlix Visual Effects Pvt. Ltd. product) is one among those companies that is leveraging every advantage, on its way to imminent success. In the following interview with CIO Look India, Charu Noheria, the Co-founder and COO at Practically, shares her opinion on the current EdTech landscape and how her company is sculpting its identity in the industry.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Brief our readers about Practically and its journey so far.
Practically is a global immersive experiences company with a vision to reshape the way the world learns. Currently focused on K-12 STEM subjects, we use AI and visual effects combined with reality technologies like AR and VR to make learning more fun and effortless.
Our journey began 6.5 years ago, and we have been in the middle of the changing education landscape. Back then we started as a test-prep assessments platform in the B2B segment and it was much harder to convince a parent for online classes or to pay for an app-based learning model. Today that idea is commonplace and thanks to COVID, this upswing has caught on wings.
In the last two years, we have pivoted into a consumer EdTech product company though most of our user acquisition still happens from the school segment. We launched Practically app in April this year and we already have more than 200k students on the platform across India and Middle East.
What makes Practically a preferred choice compared to your competitors?
As you can make out from the name itself, Practically approaches education from a very practical perspective. We are an immersive learning app focusing on delivering learning via experiences. Learning intertwined with immersive storytelling and real-life examples increases retention of concepts to more than 90% after two weeks of learning, if compared to the 20-30% 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 very pleased to see that our approach and philosophy towards limitless learning found a place in MHRD’s National Education Policy (NEP) which emphasizes experiential learning. This will be foundational for the next generation of learners to forge the future of India.
Practically is the only company which delivers thousands of experiences through a single app interface. In addition, we have everything else that a learner would need starting from live classes to doubt clearance assistance, test-prep and to top it all we are the only tech-first content company which doesn’t compete with the teacher in the classroom rather enables them to be more engaging and effective.
Being at a leadership position of your company, what is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the Indian business ecosystem?
As an entrepreneur I can say, most products built in the future will be COVID-proof as this is one of the largest global impacts we have seen in recent times. The pandemic has brought out the best and worst in businesses and put them to test. This learning would really help businesses think differently.
For the EdTech industry, the impact of COVID was positive. The heightened focus and upward trend will continue as there is an innate need in educational systems around the world to transform and COVID has just pushed us into thinking about it.
Most practices in our education system are from the me of the industrial revolution where standardized education was needed to standardize skill sets. Now the need of the hour is more personalized and agile learning, setting up the next generation of learners to navigate this century, bringing in constant change. Many businesses, especially in the software space, are going permanent on the WFH model. And my thought is, ‘School from Home’ will always be an option now.
According to you, how necessary is it to align one’s business with the latest technological developments?
It is extremely important to remain at the forefront of technological developments as technology becomes obsolete quickly. We are the only EdTech player in the industry which has a tech-first approach. Technology brings in enormous opportunity to scale, automate, personalize, and innovate. Sit on your current tech for six months and you will see a red-carpet exit for yourself. That is how fast-moving tech has become.
What have you envisioned for your company to sustain its competency in the future?
Einstein stated, “Learning is an experience and everything else is information.”
Practically has already carved a unique space for itself in experiential learning for 6th – 12th graders. We as a team believe in constantly pushing the limits of technology to bring learning alive and help learners around the world enjoy learning.
We continue to invest in R&D to understand what modalities of teaching learning techniques can improve the learning experience. We will use XR technologies more aggressively to create cutting edge, self-paced, and guided experiences. We will also be using technology to deliver some of the most sought-after academic services to our learners.