Vikalp Jain, President and Co-Founder, AcadGild, in an interaction with Ekta Srivastava, Education Technology…
Please tell us something about Acadgild, its concept, and journey so far.
Acadgild is a professional training online bootcamp, which aims to bring accessible, affordable, engaging, and highly effective quality education to the world. Serial entrepreneur Vinod Dham (also known as the “Father of Pentium”) and I co-founded the company in early 2015. The company is promoted by K Ganesh and Meena Ganesh’s entrepreneurial platform Growth Story.
AcadGild addresses the severe shortage of skilled and employable professionals. We believe that higher education is a basic human right, and thus it is essential to create an ecosystem for skill development, where people can learn from mentors and each other. We seek to empower students to advance their education and careers.
We emphasize on “learning by doing”, rather than by reading, listening or watching videos. Our mission is to teach hands-on, job ready software programming and business skills, globally, in small batches of 8 to 10 to both students and working professionals.
All AcadGild courses are delivered live and online by expert mentors who are carefully handpicked from leading companies like Oracle, Cognizant, Accenture, Infosys, BookMyShow, etc. They all have over five years of relevant industry experience and form the backbone of the company.
With an aim of expanding our reach and after seeing the massive potential that skill education has in India, we recently entered into an exclusive, multi-year partnership with IL&FS Skills Development Corporation (IL&FS Skills) to offer technology and business-oriented courses to more than two lakh Indian students by 2019. IL&FS Skills is promoted by IL&FS Education and Technology Services Limited (IL&FS Education), the social infrastructure arm of IL&FS Group, in partnership with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
The partnership enables IL&FS Skills to expand beyond its current vocational and skill-based training programs, to technologically advanced, professional courses like Android Developer, Big Data & Digital Marketing conducted by us at AcadGild. And it helps us expand the reach of our courses through more than 100 IL&FS centres across the country.
AcadGild started off with its flagship program – Android Development. Within three months of gaining popularity, it launched other courses like – Full Stack, Big Data, Front End Web Development, Business Analytics, Digital Marketing, Machine Learning with R, Cloud Computing, Spark, Core Java, etc. In June 2015, we introduced online programming courses for children in the age group of 8 to 17. In 2016, more coding courses were added for children – Android Development, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Python, Robotics and Unity 2D. We have also recently introduced job-guaranteed courses for Android and Front-End. After training thousands of candidates in India, in June 2016, we launched our coding classes in the USA. In just over a year, we have trained more than 5,000 students worldwide through our professional certification training courses.
What solutions do you offer?
With the Indian economy undergoing fast-paced digitization across sectors, it becomes essential for both children and professionals to upgrade their skills. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are slowly leading to replacement of human workforce with robots and drones for menial jobs and labor-intensive tasks. Reports point out that by 2021, robots will replace as many as 6.4 lakh low-skilled jobs in the IT field in India alone. To counter this, there is a need to give professionals a chance to upgrade their skill set in order to be job ready. Acadgild offers a number of professional courses to choose from. These courses are designed to not only provide hands-on experience but also teach them advanced software programming and business skills that can match up to global standards.
Some key services offered include the following.
- Support and mentorship with an ‘anytime, anywhere’ accessibility.
- Industry experts train students at a personalized level and enable them to manage time efficiently thus, making them job ready.
- Acadgild’s faculty comprises passionate and accomplished individuals with a committed aim of transferring thorough knowledge to participants.
- Courses offered enable students to master the skills while transforming them into creators of tomorrow.
- Courses are designed to impart practical and applicable knowledge to students rather than a bookish approach.
- The course plan is customized as per an individual’s needs and potential, and training is conducted in small batches, which allows for one-on-one interaction with the faculty.
- More than 700 students are active participants from the US at present.
As design is an integral next step in developing an app, we are also introducing
Do you think India has adequate technology usage and adoption in the education sector? What more can be done in your opinion?
The role of technology in education has been an encouraging one, especially in the Indian context because of a massive deficit of access to high-quality education at various levels of the structure, ranging from geographical limitations to socio-economic challenges, including cost and affordability. With the penetration of internet into the semi-urban and rural areas, more and more students are getting access to quality higher education.
There is a need to provide affordable and easily accessible training opportunities to students of all ages and sectors. While online learning platforms may offer training, hands-on exposure is lacking. Acadgild has designed its courses with a “Learn, Do, Earn” objective offering users a chance to participate in interactive sessions.
The transformation from classroom learning and tuitions to non-traditional online learning aids is not easy. What challenges did you face?
Changing from a traditional system of learning consisting of classroom-based training and tuitions to an e-learning platform is definitely a big challenge for the overall education system in India. With a majority of population still within rural limits, making quality higher education accessible to everyone is a daunting task. Even though India has undergone a smart phone revolution, not everyone is ready for this digital transformation.
Getting the faculty to willingly accept and adapt to this medium of instruction, making study materials available on an online platform, putting courses online to reduce “onground” classroom time, and meeting the growing demands of students who expect much more than just online access to course materials are all challenges. Acadgild has been successful so far in creating a competitive advantage in this sector.
What technology initiatives do you see gaining maximum ground for Corporate Training, Vocational Education, and Skills Training?
At Acadgild, we believe it is essential to create an ecosystem for skill development where higher education is a basic human right. Corporate training, vocational training, and skills training are all fields that require continuous learning and upgradation of skills and knowledge. Every corporate, whether big or small, has to invest in employee training, especially in technology. And with classroom training becoming more time consuming and expensive, people are turning to e-learning platforms for quick access to knowledge and learning. All our courses are conducted in small batches that allow for one-on-one interaction. Mentors teach students more than the basics and instill a futuristic perspective in the knowledge imparted.
Do you think eLearning can help in educational progress in a vast country like India?
Technology and e-learning are now taking education away from the conventional mode to an app-based model. This will not only achieve the desired scalability but also help reach out to millions. This sector still has a lot of untapped potential. We have travelled far from where we started with the advent of education resource planning (ERP) software, performance management and tracking systems, homework and assignment tracking and grading systems, classroom based distance learning platforms and interactive learning based social online platforms. India has become a major source for e-learning content development and the concept of e-learning is set to change the face of the Indian education system completely.