Mindspark, a computer-based adaptive learning program is a flagship product of Educational Initiatives, that uses finely-graded questions and adaptive logic to help students learn mathematics and language. The power of Mindspark is that it personalises the curriculum according to the learning pace of each student and encourages ‘learning by doing’ instead of mechanical instruction-based learning by memorization of concepts.
In 2001, three visionary B-School graduates with ample experience in the education sector came up with a futuristic idea and founded ‘Educational Initiatives’ to ensure that every child learned with understanding. Little did they know that just a decade and a half later, their brainchild Mindspark would rise up to become a case study at the world’s most prestigious – Harvard Business School.
According to a study by ‘The World Bank’, most developed countries with a higher Human Development Index spend about 7.5% of their GDP on education as opposed to the world’s average spends of 4%. Indicators like these elucidate the emphasis of education in accelerating a nation’s economic growth.
In this scenario, a developing country like India which has the largest K-12 education system in the word, has invested billions of dollars to ensure that children have access to basic education. Innumerable programs rolled by Government, in association with private/public sectors have greatly expanded access to education among children in the low and middle-income groups. In 1990, the net enrolment rate of primary schools was 77%; in 2003 83% and a decade later 92% in 2013 indicating a progressive outlook in the Indian Education System.
Honouring an initiative named ‘Mindspark’ that has augmented the learning levels of children in India, Professor Shawn Cole and Research Associate Tony L. HE of Harvard Business School (HBS) have put together a case titled ‘Mindspark: Improving Educational Outcomes in India’.
Mindspark is a computer-aided adaptive online self-learning tool, developed by Educational Initiatives Pvt. Ltd. using the millions of data points collected from years of student assessments, that also supplements classroom instruction.
The case which was developed based on extensive research and interviews with the founding members, product developers and end users of Mindspark, talks about how the tool is propelling the nation’s educational efforts by improving learning outcomes among children, through personalised and intelligent tutoring. It highlights how through its innumerable features like finely graded questions, adaptive logic, and interactive remedial, Mindspark has successfully benefitted over 3.5 lakh students across India. Owing to its quantifiable results in private schools, Mindspark was piloted by governments of Rajasthan and Gujarat, who witnessed visible improvements in the learning levels of children in the semi-urban areas at a nominal cost.
The case begins with the vision of founding members of Educational Initiatives, the journey of the company and the birth and development of ‘Mindspark’ with detailed exhibits, pictorial representation of the Mindspark teacher/student interface, performance reports for teachers, common wrong answer reports, graphical representation of growth in the number of Mindspark users and statistics on the central and state governments.
The most challenging environment for the implementation of Mindspark was when 5 Mindspark centres were opened in the urban slums of New Delhi that catered to more than 2000 low-income students per year. Further, the case examines the Government support and its perspective on ICT and finally, Government funding procurement methodologies in rolling the program. The paper closes with a set of questions directed at the readers/students of Harvard Business School, aiding them to think from a strategizing perspective to make quality education accessible to children of all sects of the society.
The case was published on March 16, 2017 and covers Education in India, Founding of Educational Initiatives, detailed study and analysis of Mindspark features, implementation of Mindspark, Mindspark centres, ICT and Government funding and procurement. To access the Harvard Business School Case please visit http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=52450
About Prof. Shawn Cole:
Shawn Cole is a professor in the Finance Unit at Harvard Business School, where he teaches and conducts research on financial services, social enterprise, and impact investing.
Much of his research examines corporate and household finance in emerging markets, with a focus on insurance, credit, and savings. He has also done extensive work on financial education in the US and emerging markets. His recent research focuses on designing and delivering advice and education over mobile phones, with an emphasis on agricultural and financial management.