“Taking education to everybody, everywhere” has been themotivational mantra of Sesh Kumar, who founded Emantras in 2000 and currently serves as CEO. With over 10 years of experience in digital education and eLearning, Sesh’s leadership has resulted in several educational products—including Mobl21 (an award-winning mobile learning application), Object21 (an innovative learning production suite), and TIE – Totally Immersive Education (a dynamic virtual learning environment). A member of EDUCAUSE, Sesh is an expert in sophisticated e-commerce and eLearning solutions with an understanding of e-business markets and complexities of educational product design. His ambition is to initiate a global educational reform by enabling technology to deliver quality education, facilitating better learning—and through Emantras, he’s doing just that.
Why did you create Emantras?
When I started Emantras in 2000, I was pretty certain on what I did not want it to be: a publishing services company, another eLearning company, another Indian outsourcing company.
I was very interested in the use of technology in education. And for a long time I’ve personally held the belief that learning through technology can be very effective. I started Emantras with the goal of creating digital products for the 21st century learner.
Our long term objective is to facilitate the progress of humanity through learning and initiate a global digital educational reform.
What does the name mean?
To us, Emantras is the word or path or way to enable digital transformation.
What is Mobl21? Who created it?
Created by the Emantras development team, Mobl21 delivers critical “learning bytes” in the form of interactive study guides, flashcards and animations, which learners can review on-the-go from their mobile devices, laptops or desktop computers.
What does it do? What are the benefits?
Mobl21 is designed for instructors (like teachers and trainers) to develop m-learning content quickly and effectively; for learners to create and access their own study material; and for publishers to create content that supports formal texts and online courseware.
Using Mobl21, students can now get instant access to valuable learning material, anywhere, anytime. Instructors can extend their educative reach beyond the classroom, and professionals can maximize their time by training on-the-go.
Mobl21 also works with a range of mobile devices including Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Blackberry and Android. Once the content is published, the user can access this material through a choice of one or more of the touch points.
How is it unique from other similar products/services?
Every learning app designed today, has been created to deliver valuable content in one form or the other. What distinguishes a true mobile learning system from an app that simply delivers learning material, is its ability to ensure that learning is actually taking place.
Understanding this need, Mobl21 provides both features for learners and tools for instructors. Mobl21 enables instructors to get involved in the m-learning process and determine whether learners are actually utilizing Mobl21 to study, and to what extent.
Unlike other educational products, Mobl21 is not limited to a specific grade or subject but can be flexibly adapted to any learning requirement.
When was it developed? What is something interesting or relevant about its development history?
Mobl21 was launched on 21st January, 2010.
In less than 6 months, the product has won recognition from both the educational and technological industries.
2010 EdTech Summit Innovation Incubator Award
Most Innovative Product in Education
2010 Mobile Beat
Top 10 Finalist – Start up Competition
2011 Learning without Frontiers
Innovation Award Winner
How much does it cost? What are the options?
The Mobl21 app is free and can be downloaded from iTunes, or our Mobl21 website.
We offer package solutions for schools, colleges, institutions and enterprises depending on number of instructors and users.
What are some examples of it in action?
Have a look at our blog for some great stories: http://www.mobl21.com/blog/
What are your thoughts on education these days?
Technology is here for everybody and is no longer limited to just the whiz kids. Learning through technology can be very effective, if we can overcome the challenges in taking technology to those with no exposure, and enabling those with access to technology to use it for more educational purposes.
Technology is ubiquitous and in today’s educational scenario, you often come across learners who know a lot more about technology and ways of implementation than the educators themselves. Using technology and combining it with learning, in a way that is easy to use and provides value is the biggest challenge.
Technology should be viewed an enabler, as a tool to further learning, not a hoop educators have to jump through. We don’t want to challenge teachers by making them go through a huge learning curve in order to implement technology solutions in their classrooms. It must be useful, easy and effective.
We also believe that it’s not only about the technology but also about the content design. One cannot be effective without the other. The trick is to get the combination right for all these elements (teachers, technology, content, connectivity, devices and learners) to work together to effectively improve learning.
What sort of formative experiences in your own education helped to inform your approach to creating Emantras?
I dropped out of college myself. What I didn’t have and what I want others to have, is access to any time, dynamic learning opportunities, over the web, on your phone or anywhere within your personal learning network.
My belief is that formal education may be linear, but the actual learning process is not. At Emantras we are focused on trying to hot wire learning by facilitating do-it-yourself learning in addition to enabling experiential learning, using technology as an enabler.
How does Emantras address some of your concerns about education?
Emantras is focused on the learning trends of the 21st century learning. Our solutions have been developed to enable student learning. We believe the future need will be to address what students want to learn, rather than what educators want to teach.
Most of our solutions are focused on student engagement through: mobile learning, game-based learning, creating learning objects (delivering learning using smaller pieces of content, through different channels) and immersive learning.
What is your outlook on the future of education?
Everyday new technology, new methods, and new pedagogies are changing the face of education. Today, three- and four-years-olds can easily use a tablet device to learn versus just a few years ago when it would take a deep learning curve to know how to even use a computer. The same thing applies to senior people as well. They can now access learning using devices which are bringing learning to them, in a very non-intrusive, and intuitive way. This is tremendously promising for the future of education.
Even more promising is that across the globe educationists, governments and technologists are all looking at ways to revolutionize education. While there may be mistakes, hopefully we’ll also have a lot of “learned decisions” made at the end of the day.
What else can you tell educators and other leaders in and around education about the value of Emantras? What makes you say that?
Emantras is dedicated and fully committed to bringing in 21st century learning opportunities. And I truly believe that this single-minded commitment is exactly why we are winning awards and laurels from both the technology and educational spheres.
In addition to its commercial goals, Emantras is also trying to leverage technology for social development in other countries. We have developed a Mobile Learning Lab, which will focus on using technology to enhance learning opportunities in economically underprivileged areas.
We have launched ‘TeacherMate’ a device which is pre-loaded with learning games and puzzles, to enable students and teachers with zero or low digital exposure, to familiarize themselves with technology, in an interactive way that facilitates learning.
Victor Rivero tells the story of 21st-century education transformation. He is the editor-in-chief of EdTech Digest, a magazine about education transformed through technology. He has written white papers, articles and features for schools, nonprofits and companies in the education marketplace. Write to: victor@VictorRivero.com