An important revolution in today's world is the advent of technology and how well many sectors in India have taken advantage of it, especially the education sector.
One such Indian startup is Harness Handitouch, a Chennai-based startup founded in 2011 that is revolutionizing education with a new learning operating system called Touch-on-Cloud, which integrates and extends from the hardware to the software layer.
Founded by graduates of ISB (Indian School of Business), Subramanian Viswanathan and Kuljit Chadha, and along with Harnesstouch, they are aiming for a better education solution. Subbu, shared the story of Harnesstouch with me.
The story behind Harness Handitouch
In 2010, Subramanian was working with McKinsey & Co when his engagement partner on his project used a Lenovo convertible tablet or laptop during a strategic presentation to create a new organization structure. During that meeting, he realized the power of collaboration in combined learning, which was when the idea of Touch-on-Cloud came to mind. Education was the natural industry to target. He then discussed the idea with Kuljit Chadha and within months they floated Harnesstouch Handitouch.
What is Touch-On-Cloud all about?
Touch-on-Cloud is a learning operating system, which disrupts the idea behind traditional learning and enables the comprehensive use of interactive technology inside classroom as well as outside it using the Cloud.
Using networked tablets, laptops or PCs inside the classroom, Touch-on-Cloud provides new in-class pedagogy where a teacher's white-boarding is broadcasted automatically to all students. The teacher can embed and annotate learning artefacts alongside, such as images, videos, Microsoft Office files, open courseware over the Internet. Students can then annotate notes on top of the teacher layer. This blended content created in class is then available on the cloud for students to revise and listen to through audio.
With built-in quiz, assignment, lesson management, student management and evaluation tools, Touch-on-Cloud functions as a learning operating system, capturing all learning and teaching activities.
Authored in HTML5, Touch-on-Cloud is completely platform-neutral and performs with equal efficacy on iOS, Windows and Android devices.
"As founders, Kuljit and I knew that the education industry had access to providers of multimedia content and progressive hardware, but a flexible platform like ours was clearly novel," said Subbu.
Touch-on-Cloud has applicability across educational segments--K12, Higher Education and Coaching, and implementation model to suit budgets of all sub-segments.
The challenges addressed
In the two classrooms existing today--conventional and ICT enabled--it is challenging to get the students engaged. In conventional classrooms, students are busy with blackboard duplication while teachers have no control over student activity.
In ICT-enabled classrooms, teachers have no control over multimedia content and here is a need to keep shifting between the projector, the computer, the textbook and student activity. As a result, no classroom collaboration and inefficient use of technology.
Touch-on-Cloud was developed to make teaching and learning more engaging, efficient and fun. Since teacher notes and learning material is broadcasted and saved automatically, students can concentrate on learning. With new pedagogies such as group work and student broadcast, classroom collaboration is truly redefined.
They are working on making audio-video broadcasting available inside Touch-on-Cloud and also on a parallel messaging board. This will make Touch-on-Cloud even more relevant for distance learning.
In the near future, the progress of cloud-based products is limited by broadband penetration and bandwidth availability. Once these issues are resolved, the cloud will start performing to its potential.
Harness is funded by its promoters–Subbu and Kuljit along with angel investments for high net-worth individuals working in eminent business houses and corporates.
"We are working on aggressive growth plans with at least 10 times revenue growth year-on-year for the next two years for which we are targeting markets globally," Subbu said.
The team of Harnesstouch and its culture
Harness comprises a team with industry leading expertise in product development and sales, with academic credentials and the alumni of Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institute of Management, Indian School of Business, McKinsey, Ernst & Young and Coca-Cola.
He also mentioned the company had an open, informal and flexible culture. Every team member is free to suggest an improvement and debate about it with the process owner.
Certainly, the cloud computing aspect brought into learning and education is noteworthy, but how long will it takes to completely be accepted, especially with challenges on bandwidth and other infrastructural adoptions in learning academies, has yet to be seen.
While the product is truly innovative, we'll wait and see how it shapes up in the current system of Indian education and learning. What do you think?