Teachers & trainers afraid of change that technology brings, consider themselves non-tech-savvy: Shivanu Shukla, Teamie

Co-founder and CEO, Teamie shares how the platform aims to enhance employee engagement even for the remote workforce

Shivanu Shukla

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The left of all things right, Sushri Sahu is a journo of the tech-psyched world.

With the advent of technology and business operations hosted in the cloud, online or mobile collaboration has increasingly become more agile. The traditional model of delivering training in a face-to-face setting is expensive and not practical as employees today are not desk-bound, and teams are global, on-the-move to be precise. Online collaboration and project management tools look like an absolute necessity for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) that work with remote employees and offshore partners. But with web-based or mobile platforms this gap can be bridged and Teamie, a Singapore-based collaborative learning platform claims to do exactly that. In an interview with Techseen, Shivanu Shukla, CEO, Teamie reveals how businesses can gain deeper collaboration with Teamie.

Techseen: Does Teamie aim at replacing teachers with the given resources and technology?

Shukla: Replacing teachers was never part of Teamie’s plans, but rather, to support and help them in the teaching process. At Teamie, we believe that teachers play a critical role in the education process, and while technology can replace certain mundane tasks that a teacher does, technology alone cannot compensate for the value that a teacher brings to a classroom. Apart from imparting knowledge on the subject, teachers play an important role in teaching softer skills and building up confidence in students. Many a times, the teachers we remember and consider as our best teachers, are not remembered for the knowledge they imparted, but for the other lessons and experiences that made a lifelong impact.

Teamie provides teachers with many tools that enable them to improve their productivity (through automated quizzes, reminders and announcements), improve learning outcomes (through instant analytics to identify which students are struggling and which questions are students struggling with), and drive better collaboration (through social and mobile learning tools).

Teamie helps improve the teaching and learning process, and enable new learning pedagogies and styles such as flipped classroom or blended or personalized learning. By enabling anytime anywhere access to learning resources, the role of the teacher shifts from being the person who delivers the knowledge in the class, to one who facilitates the learning process, and Teamie supports this shift and provides tools and insights to make it easier for teachers.

Techseen: How instrumental is collaborative learning in an educational setup?

Shukla: In the past, both students and teachers had to be physically at the same location in order to discuss on their assignments and facilitate the classroom experience. However, Teamie has taken it a step further by blending the social collaboration tools with traditional classrooms to drive engagement and improve convenience and productivity.

This collaborative approach to learning saw various positive outcomes. Schools that use Teamie to complement their learning process experienced a great increase in convenience and efficiency of learning, not only among students but also teachers. For example, when a student is absent on a particular day, he can still retrieve what was taught in class during the day from the platform and thereafter seek clarifications on Teamie from not only his teachers but also his peers.

With Teamie’s user-friendly social learning interface, it enables students to scroll through their class newsfeed to visit the posts that their teachers or peers have made to catch up on lessons or upcoming tasks. Similar to how users comment on their friends’ posts on Facebook, students become more engaged in this conversational approach of learning on Teamie as it makes it easier for them to share and exchange ideas, while their teachers provide feedback and inputs accordingly.

On the teachers’ front, they can collaborate on creating content, rubrics, assessments, and share that with other teachers in the school with the content banks. They can set their own grading metrics to grade their students, or provide feedback against shared rubrics without necessarily demanding grades. In addition, the platform is beneficial when it comes to the sharing learning resources and curriculum mapping. Teachers can create department groups on the platform where they can collaborate on generating learning resources, and use it for teacher professional development as well.

Shivanu Shukla

Techseen: How can enterprises benefit from the same engagement tools?

Shukla: Platforms such as Teamie, blend the merits of traditional learning for with technological innovation to offer a comprehensive learning experience for all employees. Teamie enables a social and mobile learning experience, where employees can access their training resources and complete training assessments anytime anywhere. Training managers can track training completion and post announcements, and share information and insights, while guiding their employees along the way using the social tools.

Instead of sending employees for physical courses for training, employers can also make use of such engagement tools such as Teamie to disseminate materials for employees’ reference during their own pockets of free time. This enables employees to make full use of time at work, rather than being disrupted by having to attend courses, thus increasing productivity. With flexibility to access such information through a platform such as Teamie, productivity levels will be raised and thus, help businesses engage in deeper collaboration with colleagues – a key trait of a smart workforce.

New employees will also experience the onboarding stage, which usually involves going through a series of physical hours on different topics from company policies and procedures to job related knowledge. This approach tends to overwhelm the new employee with a sudden influx of information and reduce his or her effectiveness in absorbing information.

Apart from absorbing information, Teamie also focuses on the social aspect of learning, and hence, introduced a gamification feature. Such elements provide for extrinsic motivators and organizations can make the points or badges redeemable for real-world rewards. It was reported that Gen-Y workers are set to be 75 percent of Singapore workforce over the next 10 years but 32 percent of them were disengaged at work. By giving badges and points through a gamification engine, it creates an environment that increases engagement and friendly-competition.

By incorporating learning with gamification elements and social learning aspects, Teamie allows employees to not only learn what their employers want them to learn, but also increases engagement amongst the employees themselves when they discuss and exchange ideas, share experiences and find solutions together.

Techseen: What are the challenges in enabling customers collaborate in a similar fashion?

Shukla: The education and training space is going through a transformational shift. While technology is pushing the boundaries of how learning can be delivered, accessed and tracked, institutions face a daunting task of changing their processes and thinking to meet the needs of the 21st century learner.

One of the challenges is in getting teachers and trainers to adopt technology, as some are afraid of the change that technology brings, and do not consider themselves to be tech-savvy. To help with this change, the institutions need to chart out a vision on their transformation from a brick and mortar institution to one that blends different delivery models, and help teachers/trainers understand the shift and the role they play in it. This needs to be coupled with a technology onboarding roadmap where the technology vendor works closely with the institution, and offers an adoption roadmap besides delivering training on the solution itself.

Techseen: The new Teamie 1.22 update is also out. How does it extend Teamie’s present offerings?

Shukla: Teamie has updates to its platform every 6-8 weeks. The updates include enhancements as well as new features that are added to make learning more collaborative, rich and impactful. The 1.22 update seeks to increase the bar for collaborative learning. These key updates are Teamie’s continuous efforts in improving user experience and further encouraging a collaborative learning process.

Teamie has a Stories feature, which is meant for learners to reflect, curate and showcase their learning. In this update, other learners or the teacher can now comment on someone’s story to give their feedback in order to help them improve and learn together. Story authors can choose who to share their stories with and hide a comment made by someone so that they get to decide which comments are appropriate to be shown to the world. After all, it is their story.

Most importantly, there is an update of the new assignment grading, feedback and rubric creation that allows assignments to be created swiftly from the Materials/Resources page of a classroom and detailed feedback can be provided. Along with the assignment creation, there is an all-new rubric creation workflow that allows educators to create non-scoring rubrics. A non-scoring rubric is a rubric in which none of the scales or criteria have a numerical score associated with them. This new feature is based on feedback from educators that rubrics are often used to provide constructive feedback and not to affect actual grading scores.

Techseen: How does Teamie plan to contribute in the ‘Smart Nation’ drive, initiated by Singapore?

Shukla: The idea of a Smart Nation is to empower citizens with tools that drive productivity, and provide insights to improve effectiveness. Teamie enables schools, colleges and enterprises in Singapore to make learning more effective, and engaging using social, mobile and collaborative learning tools.

A Smart Nation needs to be supported by the lifelong learning initiatives to ensure that citizens are upgrading their skills to stay competitive. Teamie enables blended learning and micro-learning to effectively support the lifelong learning initiatives of education institutions and training organizations.

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