American philosopher John Dewey once described education as “a continuing reconstruction of experience”. Pankaj Agarwal, CEO and Founder of TagHive, put Dewey’s quote into action and gave us Class Saathi, an intelligent classroom assistant, built to challenge the existing frame of the educational experience.
Class Saathi refines the learning and assessment curve with the help of it’s in-school and at-home components. Class Saathi in-school is a first of its kind clicker based quizzing model, which when paired with its mobile application, provides real-time scores to all the key players involved (parents, teachers, administrators and students). Class Saathi’s at-home personalized learning app allows students to access an exhaustive database of quizzes for free; designed to challenge them by giving them immediate feedback on areas they could improve on.
The diverse range of problems in education make it difficult for streamlined intervention. But here’s what Pankaj says got him rolling!
Having grown up in a small village in Bihar, India, Pankaj had to move away from home very early on in search of better opportunities. Thanks to a push in the right direction by an academically driven grandfather and a great support system, Pankaj and his siblings enrolled in a boarding school, in another town, that furthered their academic drive. While the encouragement was wholly accepted, it came at the cost of being away from home right from his kindergarten stage.
Reflecting back, he saw that the schools in his village could have nurtured a lot more academic retention had it received a little more infrastructural support. That became a prime criteria in developing a classroom model that could limber through infrastructure handicaps.
As his ambitions grew, he moved to the country’s capital for his eleventh and twelfth grade post which he secured admission to India’s most premium engineering school, IIT Kanpur. As is/was the trend, most IIT graduates go on to pursue an MBA degree, but Pankaj had other plans.
Being somebody who is thoroughly invigorated by engineering and design, he pursued his masters in electrical engineering and computer science from Seoul National University, South Korea. He credits the Indian education system for having given him a strong theoretical foundation, and his South Korean experience for fostering his innovative and practical side. Later, he also got an MBA degree from Harvard Business School, the mecca of business management training. Somebody once said, “to educate, one must never stop learning” and so Pankaj made it his mission to gain fluency in Korean, which he has now mastered rather artfully.
Working with Samsung for close to a decade hoisted him in the direction of technological innovation, propelling him to launch his own company, TagHive that is on its mission to make learning and teaching more effective.
Now the thing with this combination of experience and education is that more often than not, it’s a unique bunch of people who can access it. Fostering that ambition and drive is still very niche and only a small group of people world over are motivated to work for it.
“Education is a great leveller and it needs to be targeted with equity”, Pankaj resounds. It is only natural that he conceived a learning device that works to eliminate the elite component in academia.
Class Saathi is low-cost, requires minimum tech support and it uses an assessment model to track student progress that in turn allows for immediate learning interventions. It is also an unconventional operational model since most education-based companies and organisations focus on delivering teaching content and strategies.
Why would he choose to make assessments, Class Saathi’s working model? “It is simple”, he remarks “...top manager Peter Drucker said you cannot manage what you cannot measure”. So, the idea was to create assessments for learning and not assessments of learning.
While it may seem like a magical experience that smoothly sailed into action, the initial outcome was far from what was expected. The product test drive revealed a huge crop of problems that didn’t show up during incubation. Schools that partnered with them on their pilot project ran into tech issues even with this seemingly basic technology.
Faculty found it difficult to manage a simple sign-in; students found the method confusing and the overall transition that seemed rather simple, rose to be a pertinent issue. Constantly assessing and monitoring these problems gave them a working solution. That is exactly what Class Saathi aims to do in the space of education for students - equip all the key stakeholders to find solutions from constantly assessing their learning environment.
TagHive under Pankaj’s direction is happy to report its operations in over 600 schools (as of Dec. 2020) across South Korea and India. With Class Saathi growing as steadily as it is, Pankaj envisions a sustaining model that is poised to keep up with the dynamic world of education.