EdTech Heroes Feature 1 – Anirudh Phadke

Great Teams make Great Organisations. This will hold true for digital education too. Educational Institutions who fail to build great technology teams will miss the boat. Results will show up in the next 12 – 18 months. The Countdown has just begun!

With the aim to raise awareness about the importance of good technology leaders and share their knowledge with education stakeholders, CollPoll is excited to launch the “EdTech Heroes” series where we feature edtech leaders who have inspired us.

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In the debut story of this series, we feature Anirudh Phadke, Head, Digital Content & Emerging Technologies – ATMC Education Group and former Chief Innovation Officer – OP Jindal Global University.

What motivated you to work at the cross-section of education and technology?

Education happened by chance to me after my MBA. But soon, I got hooked into the sector as I got exposure to all organizational functions. It also helped that I have worked in leadership roles across all formats of education- Test-prep, K12, University and College in India and abroad. These opportunities gave me key insights into the institutional processes and issues. Having a keen interest in technology helped me find solutions to these challenges. The edtech space is the most satisfying one for me as it enhances the organization’s efficiency as well as teaching & learning outcomes.

One successful initiative you are very proud of!

There is one very successful instance at my previous University that I am particularly proud of. This was a classic case of taking up the problem of having student-meals organized in a way that would improve student experience and help manage the food billing accurately. CollPoll, as an enabler, helped us in using a comprehensive software-hardware combination to have students generate authenticated codes to access the kitchen services efficiently. The proof of the pudding was in our IT implementation team getting recognized by students for providing innovative solutions.

Two tactics you have often applied to overcome resistance to a new idea

1. Winning senior management’s trust to be patient with a new idea’s initial hiccups is paramount to success. To win that trust, I made sure that the planning was detailed and they were kept informed about the plans.

2. The stakeholders who are supposed to use the system need to be involved right from the design phase itself. This gives them a sense of ownership and they go that extra mile to ensure its success.

One thing you would want to change at educational institutions

Education is a responsibility, not a mere social or business function. Our institutions need to think much bigger and reach out to the masses, breaking the barriers of geography, class and access. Once we build this into our vision, we can surely innovate in our product offerings to provide the right education to an individual at a price that she can afford and deliver where she is.

What makes good technology?

A great technology (or any innovative solution) is when it “just works”. The goal should be to make it so easily accessible that the end-users don’t need to be “trained” to use it and become development partners in improving it further.

If you had an opportunity, one idea you would want to work on in edtech

There is an big need to provide affordable and timely quality support to students struggling with school or college studies. Many students fall behind, and eventually fall out, as they don’t get timely help. I feel that technology can help bridge this gap at a nationwide scale. We can create a collaborative platform that engages school/college students with supplementary (tuition) teachers. It will bring the best of both the worlds together by creating a sort of National Grid where all stakeholders can tap into with the sole objective to improve student performance.

Your prediction about education technology in the next 1 year?

Ironically, Covid-19 has presented itself as an impetus to everyone to wake up to the potential of edtech to rise up to such challenges. I see edtech industry to show the path in achieving the SDG goal to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. In particular, the next one year will see new initiatives by governments to ensure access to technology for the remotest learner and hence pave the way for robust, impactful business models for edupreneurs to innovate.

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