Aishwarya Ramesh

Lenovo's learning platform plays matchmaker between students and teachers

Developed in association with eVidyaloka, the platform facilitates free virtual education to deal with the shortage of teachers across India.

E-learning is rapidly becoming the new reality for those grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic. Lenovo has just launched the SmarterEd platform in collaboration with eVidyaloka, a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on transforming India’s educational landscape. This free platform is designed to encourage youth to participate in digital remodelling of the education system, by matching learners with volunteer educators in one-on-one online learning sessions.

According to government estimates, India faces a shortage of one million teachers, with a decreasing student-to-teacher ratio. The challenges to education have been exacerbated by COVID-19 restrictions. Those from poorer backgrounds or in remote areas are the hardest hit.

SmarterEd allows students from classes V to XII to choose their teachers, select the subject they would like to learn, and take time out to learn as per their convenience. It has links to NCERT and state syllabus ebooks, and also offers a chat engine for seamless student-teacher communication. The platform supports multiple languages, including English, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu. English and Hindi are live now, while the other languages will be available subsequently.

Using smart technology, teachers and students are matched using an algorithm that takes into account their respective teaching and learning styles. SmarterEd is secure, accessible, enriching and a relevant medium of education fit for the present-day scenario, where schools across the country have been forced to suspend classes.

Describing the need for the SmarterEd platform, Amit Doshi, chief marketing officer, Lenovo India, states, “The education sector in the country has struggled for a few years, with the scarcity of skilled teachers being its most serious impediment. We, at Lenovo, understand this concern and want to make primary education accessible to everyone in every part of India, through our smart portfolio of products and services. The launch of SmarterEd and our partnership with eVidyaloka is an important step to take us closer to the goal. At Lenovo, we’ve always believed that we aren’t just in the business of creating products, but have the opportunity of using smarter technology to make life a little easier for all by solving real problems.” Bauddhayan Mukherji (from Little Lamb Films), who directed the film, worked with real kids at real locations.

Lenovo’s new global brand positioning ‘smarter technology for all’ is the centrepiece of this campaign and Pooja Selvaraj - account director at What's Your Problem explains that an attempt was made to find a way to connect it to the cause of education. “Anyone can be everything is smart. Smart can be defined as something that stands for good. One of the biggest problems we found in the education system was the lack of reach and the abysmal student-teacher ratio. That’s how we came up with the idea of a platform where volunteers can teach students,” she explains. Selvaraj adds that the experience the NGO brought on board made the project easier to execute – and the device used, the roll call, is a universally understood tool to convey the message.

Pooja Selvaraj
Pooja Selvaraj

Clyde Galbao - the associate creative director at What's Your Problem confesses that this has been a project the team has been working on for six months. “Luckily, we shot the film two days before work from home came into effect. The topic of our film is not a problem limited to the current pandemic – it always existed. The plan was to have a remote learning platform for kids. In this situation when more kids are forced to stay home, I believe it just highlights the problem. In that sense, we believe this campaign has arrived at the right time,” he explains.

Clyde Galbao
Clyde Galbao

“The daily attendance roll call is a simple device to convey the message, since it’s so common across all classrooms and we believed it would strike a chord with people; inviting them to come forward and help solve the problem by enrolling as teachers themselves,” says Galbao. He adds that though the shoot was done, the execution of the post-production proved to be a bit challenging. “We had to do the editing and sound design on Skype and the production house that worked with us is Little Lamb Films, and they helped us pull it all together while working from home,” he concludes.