LUMS Alumni Set to Revolutionise EdTech in the Country Through Their Start-up
As the Coronavirus holds the world in its grip and restricts the majority of the population to their homes, businesses and organisations have had to rethink their operations. The biggest aspect of this ‘new normal’ has been the transition of all services and functions to an online medium. A transition that has been easier for institutions in the developed world but has had its challenges in developing countries such as Pakistan.
However, at LUMS students are ingrained with the mind-set to always look for opportunities amidst challenging circumstances — a mind-set quite evident in a small team of LUMS alumni at the centre of a technology start-up called EDTechWorx Pvt. Ltd. Incubated at the National Incubation Centre Lahore (NICL) at LUMS in 2018 and led by Dr. Farrah Arif, Executive in Residence, Suleman Dawood School of Business, the start-up has managed to make quite a name for itself due the hard work of a core team of Luminities, including Shahama Sajid (BSc Politics & Economics, 2016), Harris Mahboob (BSc Honours Economics, 2017), Ans Ali Khan (BSc Economics, 2016), Michelle Nadeem (BSC Political Science 2019) and Shajia Shoaib (MPhil Education Leadership and Management, 2020).
EDTechWorx Pvt. Ltd. (EDTW) is a digital course creation and delivery platform for an interactive online learning experience that connects learners, academia and industry. A one-stop solution that holds online courses, virtual classrooms, blended learning and self-paced learning, EDTW branches into three main product services; a customisable Digital Interactive Platform (DIP), e-learning with a wide range of courses, and linkages with academia and industry.
Most recently, Telenor Velocity, a digital accelerator by Telenor Pakistan has joined hands with EDTW. The collaborative project is aimed at addressing the current Covid-19 scenario whereby distance learning can be made easier, more accessible and sustainable for the future. Ans Ali Khan, Growth Product Manager, EDTW explains, “We’ll be hosting a range of our different courses on their platform. The courses will initially be free for three months, but after they complete the course, participants can get a shareable certification, for which they will have to pay a PKR 1500 fee and pass an assessment.” These courses do not just give university students the opportunity to learn while they quarantine, they also serves the purpose of up-skilling and re-skilling job seekers that can be linked to the industry at a later stage through EDTW’s strategic partnerships.
EDTW boasts a strong portfolio of national and international clients as well, including, TEVTA Punjab, Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) Global, ITACEC (Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi) funded by UK Aid and Institute of Financial Markets Pakistan (IFMP). This portfolio is a testament to the demand for the kind of innovative digital interactive platform that the start-up provides. Providing more value than the regular learning management systems available in the market, it comes with various integrations and offers a range of tools to work with, such as animations, infographics, moving images, gamification, interactive assignments and discussion boards.
Speaking of the necessity of the digital products EDTW provides, Shahama Sajid, Brand, Marketing and Growth Officer, EDTW, says, “Now is the time when Pakistan can maximise its potential when it comes to adapting to technology and utilise the massive talent available in the country. At EDTW, we are specifically working towards making quality education accessible for all. In coming years, tech will help expedite learning in remote areas, but the key to doing it successfully is to provide the same level of education to everyone at the lowest costs. That is where EDTW's expertise would come in handy."
Giving all individuals the opportunity to learn without boundaries is a goal LUMS has in common with EDTW. The start-up team credits their alma mater for cultivating a healthy start-up ecosystem and nurturing its students with a progressive, innovation-oriented approach. Right from the beginning, NICL gave them a supportive environment where the team not only evolved, and connected and learned from peers, but also designed digital products for the Centre itself. During the COVID-19 pandemic, NICL did not postpone or cancel its incubation cycle but ran the entire cycle with the help of an EDTW platform.
Initially when the team was creating content for their courses, faculty at LUMS played a huge part in setting their direction. “When we were creating content, our academic experiences and professors from LUMS also helped us out. We could go and consult our professors, we could talk to them, look up their outlines and see how things should be done and what should be included in some of our courses,” says Michelle Nadeem, Digital Content Lead.
Harris Mahboob, Senior Manager Digital Publishing and Strategy EDTW, also explains that the student experience at LUMS enhances critical thinking and holistically adds to an individual’s skill set, “The LUMS system isn’t just rote learning and a dissemination of knowledge. The focus of education at the University is on critical analysis and critically breaking down things and understanding them. This helps students internalise the information so that they can see the practical application of it.”
The solutions that EDTW provides aren’t just for a specific company or business; the passionate and creative team behind the start-up can provide digital products catering to educational and training needs of individuals, multinationals, start-ups, NGOs, Schools or Universities. With a strong track record in a short amount of time, EDTW could transform the way educational technology is embraced in the country.