Sumana Iyengar, CEO & Co-Founder, Goavega

Sumana is an experienced IT professional, having spent over 23 years in the industry. This includes global experience across the domain, which includes Delivery management, Risk management, operations management to strategic planning, and consulting. She has successfully executed several business plans and has a strong business acumen for handling channel management activities. Prior to starting Goavega, she worked in several large MNC’s and product companies. Some of her past stints include Symphony Services Corp India Pvt Ltd, where she served as a director for 6 years. Additionally, she was at AIG (American International Assurance), Singapore as Assistant Manager from Jun’01 – Apr’04. Sumana is also the Co-founder of Krimzen, which she manages on a part time basis. Sumana has received the prestigious ‘Women Entrepreneur of the year 2018-19’. Award from WeLeed and Women Empowerment Summit and GIWL Awards 2019 from UBS Forums. At Goavega, she provides leadership to drive growth and customer delight. Sumana has assisted several start-ups to build products from ground zero and launch products to the market.

Among the various sectors that have benefited from the early adoption of technology in a bid to survive through the COVID pandemic, education has been an active front runner. While Ed-tech had been steadily making its presence felt over the past few years, with assisted learning tools that leverage robotics, ML, etc., for developing cognitive learning among children, it is only now that it has found widespread appeal and mass adoption. The lockdown has also helped transform Ed-tech from an ‘optional’ tool adopted by elitist schools to a ‘mandatory’ mode of continuous learning, especially for schools, who have adopted it wholeheartedly. From facilitating the teaching of regular term curriculum via virtual classrooms or recorded lectures for K12 students to offering professionals the opportunity to upgrade their skills, technology adopting in the education space has allowed allowing everyone with an internet connection and a smart device, to access knowledge and learn.

Some of the key technical tools that have found widespread adoption include:

  1. E-learning application/ Products: Making e-learning platforms compatible with modern smart devices, like phones and tablets, has been a major factor contributing to ease of access and faster adoption of digital learning. These also include specialized learning products, including Animation, games, or AI-powered programs built specifically for edutainment purposes. From creating customized virtual classroom apps for schools to third-party applications focussed on learning of a particular subject/ skillset, technology-enabled innovations have helped facilitate learning across age groups and subjects.
  1. Content/ Knowledge management and Repository: In the new normal, with enhanced digital adoption, content-driven learning opportunities are driving new age e-learning platforms which are finding more patrons compared to a tutor/ curriculum-based learning. From accessing specific subject-based deep domain expertise or upgrading singular skills required to excel, both K-12 students and those seeking continuous learning opportunities, are heavily banking on the rich content repository created by various Ed-tech platforms. Many claim this to be a ‘liberalization’ of education, making it available to any or everyone seeking knowledge.
  1. Big Data and Analytics: An important but widely neglected aspect of Ed-tech was the role of Big Data and the application of analytics to learning. With the increased use of virtual classrooms, e-learning platforms, and online assessments, schools and educational institutions are waking up to the significance of rich student and teacher performance data. The data captured, when analyzed effectively can help uncover a minefield of information, including student’s strengths and opportunities for improvement, early discovery of learning disabilities in children, analyze needs of differently-abled students, understand the need of backward socio-economic class, or to study the impact of a new learning format!
  1. School information management: A vast part of school functioning depends on meticulous administration and planning, a task that most teachers would help shoulder. From keeping a seamless correspondence with parents of every student to planning syllabus for terms, keeping track of projects and extra-curricular activities, PTA meetings, and specialized counseling sessions, a teacher’s role, attention, and duties are widely distributed, putting additional stress that hinders in their primary role. Tech-enabled platforms, customized for schools and other educational institutions, help create automated information management and sharing system which vastly reduces the manual burden upon teachers and administrative staff. This has already shown to improve productivity and overall performance of teachers, while also creating a seamless system of administration.

While the above-mentioned tools have been instrumental in transforming educational practices in India, supportive government policies and fast-developing digital infrastructure are key factors enabling this transformation? While the ‘digital India’ campaign ensured that a strong connectivity framework was created for wider access to fast and affordable internet, the recent National Education Policy (NEP), introduced reforms that allowed educational institutes to leverage the digital framework effectively and build on a stronger, integrated learning system. Coupled with the accelerated pace of innovations, and growing interest of PE Funding in the Indian Ed-tech segment, the Indian education system is on an aggressive growth path, well equipped to create more awareness, more enabled, and more responsible citizens of the future!

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