Rob Grande's blog from Nepal 5
Meeting with Ankur
▪ Extremely useful meeting with Ankur and his company Expresiv Studios. They are a User Interface Design group that designs app/websites/programs for clients as a consulting company. They are currently developing a product almost identical to what we want Looma to be, however, there is a non-disclosure agreement, so they can't officially discuss anything. They are doing a lot of field research and developing content for this product and it is clear that they have an extremely clear plan and organized thought process in their development of the product. It is also clear that developing all the content and teacher training videos for each lecture will take a significant time, 1-2 years by their estimate, for a team of 5 people.
▪ Ankur and his team are passionate about education and willing to give consulting 1-2 times a month to designing the looma interface for free. They also have contacts with coding factories that can do the development of looma. Looma desperately needs the new software system before progressing to the next stage of development, and so the relationship with Expresiv and finding coders is extremely important at this point in time.
▪ This group has done a lot of market research about the state of education in nepal and the typical teacher profile. They claim that in order to get teachers to actually use the device, they need to be convinced that the system will make their personal lives and jobs easier.
• Many teachers don't care about teaching at all and use it simply as a job. For them, it does not matter if the students learn, and only care about doing the easiest job possible. Expresiv refers to these people as “facilitators” rather than “teachers” in the sense that they facilitate the material on the system, rather than truly teach.
▪ In order to convince the teachers that the product will help them, they said that teachers should be given only some classes in the system (such as looma), so that they are forced to teach both traditionally for some subjects, and with the looma for others. This will remind them everyday of how much easier it is to teach with the looma system, and inspire desire to use the system
▪ They said that the looma system should be designed with a mobile interface in mind since the first interaction of most people in Nepal with technology is their mobile phone, not a computer
▪ The product that they are developing for the company is almost identical to what we want the looma system to be
• Each subject is broken up into preplanned lectures and every lecture has:
1. A 5-10 minute teacher training video which teaches the teachers how to teach the material (I'm a little skeptical that the teachers will have time or inclination to watch these though.)
2. Supporting media (videos, games, etc)
4. Teachers can personalize the lessons and textbook with their own annotations and edits
▪ They pointed out this company has no plan in place for distribution yet. If we could have a minimal viable hardware product with power and everything completed, we could license out the looma product to them
▪ They are doing a lot of research talking to educators and have a large master business plan involving hiring consultants, full time staff, etc. They have been working on it for 3-4 months and expect is to be completed with content in 1-2 years
▪ They have a User Interface (UI) course that they offer to professions at companies. It runs every week and costs 100-150USD per lesson
• They recommended that VTS find someone and pay for them to do the lessons. I don't think we have anybody who would fit this spot and need this training, but I am personally curious about learning about UI/UX, so I might attend on my own dime
▪ They said that it would cost 25USD an hour to contract them, but that they would be willing to consult once or twice a month and connect us with coding factories.
▪ They proposed an idea for looma that has been used successfully for other non profit groups: have a company donate 1 looma for every 1-2 loomas that a private school purchases.
• Said that this was very successful for campaigns involving shoes (Toms brand) and other products
▪ They mentioned that actually many private companies will be interested in selling to government schools and not just private schools as there is actually a ton of money in government and they want to spend it
• So, it is plausible that Three60 might still be a good partner, although I do not think their product is exactly what we are looking for
Meeting with Kshitij
▪ Just reviewed the experience in Dhading. Clear that we should continue utilizing UMN as a valuable contact