Discussing the Online-Only School – Interview with 21K School Co-Founders
As part of FeaturED – an exclusive EdTech founder interview series by EdTechReview in association with AWS EdStart, Mr. Utkarsh Lokesh, CEO & Editor of EdTechReview, interviewed Mr. Yeshwanth Raj Parmasal, Co-Founder and COO and Mr. Santosh Kumar, Co-founder and CEO of 21K School.
Through FeaturED, we have continually invited EdTech founders to talk about their EdTech start-ups and share their journey’s lessons, insights on the market, associated trends, challenges & opportunities. This time, we invited 21K School co-founders—Yeshwanth, an education management professional with over 20 years of experience, and Santosh, who is leveraging his 8+ years of global IT experience in EdTech.
The session began with Mr. Yeshwanth briefly introducing 21K School. He described 21K School as a K-12 school offering an Indian-American British curriculum designed especially for students aged 3 to 18 years across the globe in a completely online format.
Highlighting the problem of access to good education, Mr. Yeshwanth shared details around the problems they are solving & how they are doing it.
He also pointed out several difficulties in delivering good education, such as hiring quality teachers in online education. However, he also shed light on how 21K School is working on it and looking forward to replacing the outdated traditional model of schooling by bringing in more personalization and flexibility to the schooling model.
Talking about learners’ current stage and experience at 21K School, Yeshwanth recalled the initial phase.
The initial phase of 21K school had just 267 students. Now, it’s a community of more than 3000 students, 6000+ parents, and a team of over 400 people (200+ teachers).
Yeshwanth said, “We had a very simple objective of making the 16 years of education more meaningful and joyful; that’s enough to build trust. The AWS EdStart member program supported our tech platform during this scaling phase. We were able to deliver a very engaging program on a learning management system at scale. Everything is integrated on a single platform from the digital library or the assignment module to the homework module.” In response to learner impact and outcomes, he also touched upon how analyzing the data from the assessments helped them redefine the ‘unit test’ concept and continue tracking students’ progress through personalization.
Talking about the same, he mentioned how 21K School teaches students according to their learning capacity—beginner, intermediate, or advanced—and prepares lesson plans accordingly. This allows 21K School to offer a more personalized learning experience rather than a collective experience for all students in the class. He also expounded on the importance of allowing students to follow their passion while studying.
Yeshwanth looked back on the overall journey of 21K School, highlighting the background of team members.
Yeshwanth described the activities and research that helped them realize that there are no readily available online schooling facilities in India as there are in the western world. He also spoke about the pandemic-fueled overnight transition from offline to e-learning and how it opened a sea of opportunities for them.
Santosh spoke about his observations over the period and how the overall idea evolved while solving the problem of quality education and teacher access. The current stage of 21K School and how they check on learning outcomes and monitor students’ progress in real-time was another key point of his comment.
While discussing the cloud solutions and the technology access they had, Santosh elaborated on the support and conveniences provided by AWS EdStart and how the program helped them grow over the years.
From having a digital lab and library to a principal room, he briefed the capabilities of their LMS. He said, “All that’s currently happening is quite difficult if we use any standalone system. We need to explore and find solutions to each problem, and AWS already has solutions for all the problems that come in our way.”
Yeshwanth mentioned that “when it comes to students’ data privacy and security, gaining parents’ confidence is a graving concern. Therefore, to grow, you need to earn parents’ trust first. Working with AWS we were able to create safe, secure and well-structured system that gave us a collateral benefit and helped us build that trust.”
The conversation got further interesting when Yeshwanth highlighted some of the key challenges faced by 21K School since its inception, followed by the solutions they used to overcome them.
The co-founders also covered questions on tech capabilities, roadmap, expansion plans, competitive advantage, and untapped opportunities.
Stay tuned for more such interviews. If you would like to be featured by EdTechReview, please contact editor[at]edtechreview[dot]in
About AWS EdStart:
AWS EdStart, the AWS educational technology (EdTech) start-up accelerator, is designed to help entrepreneurs build the next generation of online learning, analytics, and campus management solutions in the AWS Cloud. The program enables EdTech start-ups to move faster with tailored benefits. Learn more.
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