Perspective on Infocus Interview #1 “Infocus Interview with Shridhar Shukla”Co-Founder and Chairman, KPOINT Technologies

— by Shalini Amin Sheth for the Edtech Society

Dr. Sugat Dabholkar, Assistant Research Professor at Tufts University, recently interviewed education technology pioneer and Co-founder and Chairman of KPoint Technologies, Dr. Shridhar Shukla, for the Edtech Society of India. In the interview, Shridhar makes crucial points about how technology can solve real problems in education and discusses the role of teachers in impacting the lives and careers of students.

If you often think about what ails education in India, if you are a part of the education and edtech industry, or are a technologist or entrepreneur who likes solving problems, this interview is for you. In this interview, you will find crucial questions and points that will help you deal with the tumultuous times that the industry is currently facing and come up with solutions that add value.

Key Discussion Points in the Interview

  • How teachers play a pivotal role in motivating and impacting students and why we need to focus on up-leveling them
  • Why the agency of learning needs to be transferred to students
  • The need to create competency-based education tools with variation in practice
  • How to make a real impact with technology applied to the field of education

Solving Problems that Matter – Journey of a Technology Expert and Entrepreneur 

Shridhar has a remarkable career trajectory that cuts across academia, industry, and entrepreneurship. He is an IIT Bombay alumni who went on to do his PhD from NCSU. He worked as a computer engineering faculty in the US for many years before returning to India and joining Persistent in Pune as COO. Currently, as the Co-founder and Chairman of KPoint Technologies, he focuses on school education, particularly on upskilling teachers.


From a technology-related profession, Shridhar stumbled upon education technology because of his desire to address challenges and solve the many unsolved problems in education. Leveraging technology became a way to solve problems at scale and enhance learning experiences. From building security for software to building video technology and then applying it to education, and, more recently, to using technology to increase reach and engagement while up-leveling teachers, it has been an almost seamless journey for this humble, unassuming problem solver.

Empowering Teachers as Catalysts for Change

Early in the interview, Shridhar mentions how childhood experiences sparked academic interest in him. With a gentle nudge from Sugat, Shridhar shares a rather touching account of how his Grade 7 teacher at school inspired him to do well academically purely because she believed in him. At that point, although Shridhar was at the bottom half of his class, he went on to stand first among all divisions at his prestigious Mumbai school. Shridhar then went to IIT Bombay and followed it with a successful career as an academician, technologist, and entrepreneur. All of this was possible because of the spark his Grade 7 teacher created.


Teachers thus play a crucial role in engaging and motivating students and we need to support their efforts with professional development initiatives and technology. The question of how technology can create such opportunities for teacher-student interactions where multiple teachers can generate these sparks for multiple students in different contexts is a crucial theme that has guided Shridhar’s efforts and can inspire many more education companies, policymakers, and entrepreneurs. The vision is to build an ecosystem where educators are empowered and thus shape student learning experiences.


Transferring the Agency of Learning to Students

Typically, the outcome that parents look for is that their child gets good marks. Teachers and schools are often held responsible for ensuring that the child gets good marks and that means that the bulk of the time spent in school focuses on helping the child score better. However, the teacher’s most important responsibility is to transfer the responsibility to learn to the student. Knowledge is supposed to be generated by students in the process of learning. This is a critical insight as the generated knowledge can be applied to acquiring higher-order skills that make students more employable.


So, what does the modern classroom require from teachers?

  1. Create a conducive learning environment rather than just imparting knowledge.
  2. Focus on teaching the basics or fundamentals well.
  3. Enable the students to take ownership of their academic performance once fundamentals are taught.
  4. Encourage variations in practice and focus on allowing students to practice higher-order skills.

How can the modern classroom flourish?

  1. Educators must be empowered and coached to prioritize fundamental teaching over external pressures. 
  2. Provide educators with the support they need to complete their mundane work.
  3. Allow students to learn basics in their preferred language, especially in the initial years.

Creating Tools for Better Competency-Based Education

Shridhar discusses the importance of competency-based education and shares an example of how cognition and competency are developed using Bloom’s taxonomy. Typically, at school, we tend to focus on Bloom’s levels 1-3, but in the real world competency in levels 4-6 makes one employable. The need is to shift to education tools that help develop these higher-order skills that fall under Bloom’s levels 4-6. This point along with the need to develop variation in practice has the potential to inspire quality education tools.



The Impact of Technology Applied in the Field of Education

Shridhar talks about how technologies like TV, computers, the internet, video, and now AI transformed and continue to transform teaching and learning processes. These technologies revolutionized education although they were not conceived as educational technologies. For example, YouTube was meant for people to broadcast themselves and has now become an educational tool. Understanding this distinction is important to build solutions that have an impact.

Transforming the Indian education landscape through technology

When we use the word transform with education, it means there is something drastically wrong with education, and we need to transform it. There are several cases where things are going well, but the challenges are numerous. The reason could be that there is a short-term approach, vested interests, or too much diversity.


Looking ahead, Shridhar shares three points for aspiring edtech entrepreneurs and those already a part of the space. 

Points for those in the edtech space and aspiring edtech entrepreneurs

Point 0: An edtech entrepreneur is first an entrepreneur and then an edtech entrepreneur.

  1. Develop a deep understanding of the education domain. 
  2. Look for a real problem. Often, entrepreneurs get caught up in building products to solve perceived problems; there is a vast difference between a perceived problem and a real one.
  3. Tell yourself and everyone you work with that it will take more time, money, and teamwork to succeed.

Offering a Compelling Vision for the Future

Given how tumultuous the edtech industry is at this point, there are several ideas and insights in this interview that can guide us forward. 

Here are some of the most compelling points in conclusion:

  • While becoming more student-centric, we also need to keep the teacher in the loop. Given the impact teachers at all levels can have, we must create a system of up-leveling and empowering teachers.
  • Knowledge is supposed to be generated by students in the process of learning. We need to help teachers transfer the agency of learning to students.
  • We must work on solutions to create competency-based education tools with variation in practice.
  • Look for a real problem to solve versus a perceived one.
  • To make an impact, we need to understand the human and social aspects and then apply the appropriate technology to education.

It’s time to enjoy the video and allow for deep reflection and inspiration. Go ahead.

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