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BW Businessworld

Touch And Learn

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Today's school-going children are said to be the tablet generation, much more tech savvy than any generation before. The student is the new target tech consumer not only for companies selling gaming devices and mobiles, but also for those providing education tools. Pearson, a leading learning company, recently launched a new tablet-based education solution for schools in India called MX Touch. The MX Touch platform, compliant with the school syllabus and bundled with tablets, is meant to give a greater number of school children access to more effective personalised and collaborative digital learning.
 
Naveen Rajlani, V-P, school division of Pearson explained to Poonam Kumar of Businessworld Online  how the new tablet-based education solution works. Excerpts:
 
You are responsible for Pearson's K-12 business in the sub-continent. How does the K-12 education department work?
The K-12 department provides content for school-going children from kinder garden to class XII. Our core business is to develop content for private schools as per NCERT guide lines. We also conduct examinations
 
Most of the leading schools across the country use our text books. We also have our own Pearson school, — 30 of them —  which are mostly based in South India.
 
What made you come up with a tablet-based education solution?
We have been delivering content to schools in the form of printed text books so far. But once we noticed that a shift was taking place in the classrooms with interactive white boards, computers and projectors etc, we started working on digital content. Three years back, we launched our first e-book for a few courses and gave it to shcools as complimentary copies. The teachers found it very useful and that was our first experiment with digital. Then at K-12, we introduced blended education in 2011 where we combined digital content and textual content together in a product called Active Teach.
 
In 2012 we brought MX Touch. IT is a purely digital content delivery form, where content is developed according to NCERT guidelines and delivered on a tablet. In MX touch, we have covered four subjects — English, mathematics, science and Hindi. Each chapter has different aspects such as illustrations, animations, power point presentations, worksheet, BBC videos, pictures etc.
 
Incidentally, MX Touch comes bundled with tablets at various price ranges to ensure it is affordable and accessible by the broadest possible cross section of students. It will be available in three versions: MX Touch - ActiveTouch, MX Touch - DigitALly and MX Touch - Ultimate.
 
MX Touch - ActiveTouch  provides digital content on four subjects - English, science, mathematics and Hindi - for classes 3 to 8. MX Touch - DigitALly is loaded with DigitALly Student Edition, another edition of Pearson's patented and award-winning teaching tool. DigitALly includes animations, videos, self-explanatory diagrams, worksheets, quizzes and several hours of experiments for different subjects. It can house an entire curriculum of a grade on a device and offers access to it not only within the classroom, but also outside. The third, MX Touch -Ultimate, is a bundled version that includes MX Touch - ActiveTouch and MX Touch - DigitALly SE.
 
How does the whole thing work?
Let me clarify that we are not selling the tablet as we create content for students. We do not want to sell the hardware. Our content is device diagnostic so a school can purchase our content irrespective of the fact whether it's a Samsung or a Micromax. We bundle the content in the device and the school can decide which tablet to use. However, we have tied with Micromax. A 10-inch Micromax tablet come around Rs 10,000. So the school will pay Rs 10,000 for the tablet and Rs 1,500 for our content on the tablet. It is not a joint venture with Micromax but rather a preferred kind of partnership.
 
What kind of technology have you used in MX Touch?
MX-Touch is an Android-based application. It has an e-book reader and an assessment engine through which teachers can take assessments for students. These are two three different technology which has been used and on that the content will uploaded for use. It will work as any normal tab which supports an android operating system.
 
What kind of revenue are you expecting?
This is a new thing and we are pretty sure it will work for students. But we cannot say how much revenue we can expect from this device. This is the first time when we are delivering this kind of mode of content. So we really don't know what and how much revenue we will get. Sure, we have made some budgets and plans. But it's too early to reveal that. 
 
Is it a 'must-have' for those who have enrolled under Pearson?
No, it is not a 'must-have' for Pearson schools. 
 
Do you have any plan to tie up with the government?
As of now we are not talking to the government for tie-ups. However we are in touch with almost all the private schools. If there is any opportunity going ahead we will sure take this opportunity.
 
We have launched it in Bengaluru and Delhi. We have an entire team that gives demos in schools. 
 
Are you planning to spread it into rural areas?
We have no plans for rural areas.