21K School, India’s first only-online school, is offering transparent quality education, regardless of the situation and location. Santosh Kumar, Co-founder & CEO, of 21K School, and Yeshwanth Raj Parasmal, Co-founder & COO share their insights and delve deeper into their visions for the school and its positive impact on the upcoming generations.
Santosh: Tell us a little about the launch of your ‘Future of Education’ initiative.
The education system is changing, with new teachers and programs that will change the face of teaching forever. Imagine a world where students are able to learn at their own pace instead of being conformist members in an assembly linetype environment? Education has always been about more than just curriculum; it's also social interaction between peers who share similar interests as well as creative thinking exercises on how we can improve our society today through thoughtful discussion from various perspectives which some people may call "free thinking."
The revolution won't come without its difficulties but there have never been better times ahead for those willing to take part! We at 21K School are spearheading this revolution of making transformational education available to children the world over.
We wanted to make sure that where you lived, what you did, your interests, limitations in mobility… nothing can constrain your access to transformative education.
The United Nations has formulated 17 Sustainable development goals, Education being the bedrock to achieving the goals. We have been transforming education and making world-class education borderless and accessible to one and all, and that is what 21K School is all about.
We wanted to give parents an inside- out perspective on how we are delivering futuristic education. I am excited to launch the ‘Future of Education is here’ initiative which will enable parents to know everything they ever wanted to know about how we deliver world-class education online. The video is available on our YouTube channel.
Yesh: As a K12 school that is only online, can you tell us how you are providing education to children through your platform?
Our 3 co-founders and I came together with one very strong belief - The biggest gift a parent can give to their child is to find a way to prepare them for this rapidly evolving world. And we need to prepare our children for a future that is going to be so much more than the traditional roles we have grown up seeing.
This is our core notion in order to offer high quality, a number of global curriculum choices and bringing quality teachers who love to teach on a universal platform that can be accessed by students, anywhere in the world!
We started 21K School to change the way education is looked at. We knew we had to change the factory model of education and bring in transparency and innovation at the core. A child must enjoy learning and only then can he or she use that learning in their lives for years to come.
Our digital-only K12 schooling experience helps save time and gives children more flexibility to pursue what they love. Schooling through an Online School saves as many as 1,050 hours per year, translating to 700 days over 16 years of school education by reducing travel time and tuition time. This flexible learning model at 21K School allows our students to pursue their passion across science, maths, art, music, dance, entrepreneurship, and sports.
We have designed 21K School not just as another mainstream schooling option but instead as a giant leap into the future of learning experience where every parent is assured that their children are being prepared for a happy, healthy and prosperous global citizenship. Our students are ready for the real world with a growth mindset.
Santosh: What’s been the market feedback for this digital format, since education in India has always been provided in a physical setting?
While we already had our back-end processes and IT platforms set up and geared to kick off our first academic year in 2020, the pandemic hit. We saw that schools were slow to adopt the digital model, and students and parents were also trying to grapple with this new format.
For us, we had already enrolled nearly 300 students before the pandemic hit, since those parents knew what digital learning meant and could offer their children from the comfort of their homes.
Our teaching methodology coupled with our teachers, and our tech-friendly platform all came together to offer a seamless approach to learning for children from 3 years to 18 years of age.
In our second academic year, we enrolled over 3,500 students, a 10X growth, which was a testament to our form of online schooling. Cut to now, we have grown to over 6000 plus students and are well on our way to becoming the largest online school in South East Asia by 2023.
Parents that we have interacted with have been very appreciative of our new model, and of the fact that their children
are engaged happily online, are learning and are in classes, most often, with students located from many different countries. This has helped children gain worldly knowledge and has opened them up to thinking of what goes on not just within India but abroad too.
We are also the only digital school that is reimagining education with emerging technologies like Blockchain, Metaverse, NFTs to instil learning, thinking, and creativity in the DNA of our students. We are one of the world's first schools to transition into Web 3.0. When learning is gamified and enjoyable, it is most effective. We are building the metaverse for the future of education.
Yesh: What tech tools are you using to run 21K School?
Our platform uses artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, industry-standard data privacy and security tools powered by AWS Cloud Servers. This helps us with increasing our scalability across the world.
Our virtual classrooms are very much like the traditional physical classrooms, but visible on an internet-enabled device. As we want each of our classroom sessions to be interactive and engaging, we use an AI assistant who accompanies the teacher in each session, and the system monitors every student’s emotion and attention.
Based on this, the teacher is able to adapt his or her teaching style to the students' needs. Our advanced AI can also formulate a learning curve, and prepare a lesson plan with an assignment and teaching aid, personalized to each student. By using machine learning, we are able to study our students’ learning patterns over time, and enabling us to create a holistic teaching-learning process, to match the requirements of each student.
For summative, formative assessments and tests online, our teachers and AI assistant prepares the assessment and tests and also correct all the answer scripts. We are using advanced Natural Language Processing algorithms to read handwriting and voice recording to access any student.
Additionally, our AI-enabled learning platform helps us determine the improvement required in students and also identify the strengths and weaknesses of each student. It can guide students on the path of their unique identity and career/passion.
Yesh: Can you explain what a typical day or induction into 21K School looks like?
At 21K School, we aim to make every one of the 16 years of schooling for a student meaningful and joyful.
Our academic year begins with a week of welcome, where we use a game centric approach to connect with students in the very first few days. This is followed by a bridge course which not only helps students bridge the gap between what they should have known at the end of the last grade and what they need to be ready with at the beginning of the next one, but it also aids the educators in understanding what the class baseline is. This process is further assisted by a diagnostic matrix which helps identify students’ areas of excellence and focused growth.
A three-click journey is all a child needs to reach their classroom. On the platform itself, each child gets to see the material, share assignments, access Virtual Lab, Digital library, Explore Canva, discuss with their peers and access a plethora of learning tools all of which are supplemented by our single-login system to make it an easy-to-use experience. Right from the Coding platform that helps them learn the fundamentals of coding, to our massive library filled with reading resources or a virtual lab that reimagines science and experiments - we have got it all.
On a daily basis, we teach core subjects, along with many Indian and international languages and capstone courses, including Computational Thinking, to develop students’ analytical and problem- solving skills.
Our Day Boarding and Summer School Programme allows students to master real-world skills critical for success – but unfortunately not covered in the traditional curriculum. We recently had adventure trips to Rishikesh and Mysore where children had a fantastic time bonding with their companions. At 21K School, we believe in imparting real-life experiences that teach students essential life skills. We have also been organizing numerous local, city-based meets so children can have the opportunity to meet their schoolmates in a physical setting.
Santosh: What are the future plans for 21K School?
I often get asked if we are a school? If we are a next-gen technology company? If we are creating a new dimension of education? The world in 20 years is unsure of what the future will bring, but one thing's for sure - education needs to be on point. There are more pressing issues than ever before when considering how we educate our children today so they can contribute tomorrow morning! The way I see it, the value of a good education is not limited to the individual itself. It can be passed down from generation to generation, and even determine which path an entire country takes in times to come! And we are proud to be able to make cutting-edge education accessible to thousands of children the world over – so they can make a difference. We won’t stop until we impact 1.4Bn School-going students across the world, to get quality education in the remotest part of the world. The world is our oyster and we hope to spread our wings far and wide.