There is nothing normal about a normal workday for me in the new COVID-19 world. It involves so much more than just waking up, getting dressed, and settling down for work. With the entire family at home, and my children needing help while attending school virtually, it is often difficult to balance all the competing priorities. And while my employer has made it easy for me to do my job from home, I see that my children need a lot more support with their online learning. While I help them, I worry about how low-income families are faring during this time. Undoubtedly, the overnight transition from completely offline to only online is even tougher for them as they struggle with everything from space issues to internet connectivity issues to sharing one device.
My work at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation focuses on how to improve education for children throughout India, particularly in government and low-fee schools, so it’s with great pride that I watch many of our partners step up to this challenge.
One of those partners is ConveGenius, a personalized and adaptive learning platform which focuses on students’ needs while directing teachers where they need to intervene the most. This platform was important before COVID-19 as Indian classrooms have on average one teacher for every 32 students. Further, a government or low-cost private school student is typically two to three grade levels behind peers. Now, with the new normal that COVID-19 created, ConveGenius is an exemplar model, showcasing how flexible technology can ease the transition to online learning for many children across the country.
ConveGenius provides its personalized and adaptive model to government schools and after- school learning centres. The platform is designed to address the unique learning trajectory of each child. It collects data insights and provides easy-to-read, real-time impact dashboards to both teachers and students. The student-level impact dashboard is one of the many learning nudges in the platform that incentivize and motivate children. These data-driven digital classrooms are 1) bridging the learning gap children experience, and 2) enabling teachers to better serve their students by accessing actionable data insights. The platform serves 540,000 children across 16 states in India and has improved learning levels by six to eight percent. ConveGenius demonstrates that with the right tools, children from all backgrounds can access a quality education.
With online learning, teachers have limited time with their students, so they need more specific data on how each of their students is learning. Additionally, both teachers and students need nudges to make the necessary behavioral shifts. Recognizing this, ConveGenius launched a curriculum-linked quiz for students in addition to the learning app. This provides a nudge to students to revise content and form a habit of an evening check-in for self-learning. For the government school users in Andhra Pradesh, the company launched a doubt-solving facility on WhatsApp. This is giving students constant access to teachers, and the database of doubts is helping teachers improve their instruction. It is innovation and support like this that is helping children navigate the transition.
The current situation came upon us so quickly that we did not have adequate time to revamp the IT infrastructures in schools or train the teachers and students to successfully master online learning. We need to continue to innovate and build on what we have, creating solutions that are scalable and affordable. Only then can we ensure that every child, regardless of their family income, receives the quality education they deserve. We now have the opportunity to continue the trend of making a quality education available to all children, even well after this crisis ends.
If you have a request for funding that is related to COVID-19, please know that we are committed to fighting this pandemic and its subsequent economic fallout. Our immediate available funding has gone to accelerating the development of therapies, increasing the supply of PPE in Texas, stabilizing small business, and assisting our portfolio of current partners.