New technologies to transform smart e-learning solutions

New technologies to transform smart e-learning solutions
Mohammad Al Ashmawi, chief technology officer and vice-chairman, Classera. - Supplied photo

Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Mon 19 Aug 2019, 10:38 PM

Last updated: Tue 20 Aug 2019, 12:46 AM

Classera stands with a mission to revolutionise the e-learning ecosystem all over the world, focusing on developing smart e-learning solutions. The startup is passionate about maintaining a sustainable engagement and motivation cycle for students everywhere.
"We at Classera have always believed in the power of education - that when you contribute and develop the education sector, you are also contributing to the development of every other sector in a society," Mohammad Al Ashmawi, chief technology officer and vice - chairman, Classera, said.
When studying at university, Ashmawi used some traditional e-learning systems and both he and his business partner and co-founder of Classera, Mohammed Al Madani, felt that something is missing, there was a big gap to fill, there needs to be something that pushes the students and teachers' motivation and increases the engagement between them, motivating students to be self-learners. 
Most students hate homework and they look at it as something they are forced to do; they look at completing it without enjoying it. The idea was to change that mind set by using technology that's how Classera came into being.
"In 2012, Classera was first launched in the US. We saw a great opportunity in the Middle East and Africa and decided to extend our focus outside of the US. By now we have a great success in Middle East  and Africa region, serving more than 2 million users in more than 12 countries," said Ashmawi.
Ashmawi believes that e-learning shouldn't be just changing papers into a PDF file or moving an exam from a paper to an online version. 
"True smart learning should utilise new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to transform the traditional classroom into a smart and more engaging educational and continuous learning eco-system."
So how is Classera different from its peers? Classera distinguishes itself in two different aspects: First, engagement, where Classera has capitalised on two main strategies: gamification and social learning. Gamification helps to make the learning process more exciting and rewarding. The startup has introduced 'Classera cards' that students receive at the start of their journey - for any activity that they are doing, they accumulate points and can redeem them to increase their class ranks. The brand also has first of its kind educational loyalty programme that includes restaurants, hotels, theme parks - these offers are rewarded to students and teachers based on their achievements. Social learning complements the equation by breaking the walls, not just between classrooms, but also between the schools, cities and countries. It allows teachers and students to share their knowledge across borders.
The second differentiator is Classera's take on intelligence and personalisation.
"We believe that the real disruption for the traditional education system is making it truly personalised. Personalised means understanding the needs of the student you are dealing with. In a regular classroom, teachers have limited time, which makes personalised learning so hard. However, by leveraging AI and ML and the data we are able to gather about the students through their entire learning journey, we can analyse exactly what each student likes, dislikes, their interests, preferences, etc. And based on analysing these data we are able to personalise the content and exercises presented to each one, in a very smart way. Classera can now talk with you in one-to-one conversations as your personal assistant with a mission to improve your academic performance and skills, we called this engine 'Smart Mate'," said Ashmawi.
Ashmawi says that Amazon Web Services (AWS) has helped Classera immensely in their journey and making Classera the platform it is today. The startup depends on AWS data analytics and data warehousing services such as Amazon Redshift to aggregate student and teacher data in a single place in order to build customised solutions and personalised content recommendations. Performance is key to Classsera's businesses and they claim to get around 30 million requests per day from users all over the world.
Vinod Krishnan, head of Mena, AWS, said Classera has really been at the forefront of using cloud technology to rethink education services for the Arab world. 
"It's really exciting to see how Classera is using Amazon Web Services to build smart e-learning solutions and the way it is leveraging various cloud services such as data analytics and machine learning to innovate personalised and engaging learning experiences."
Classera is currently bootstrapping, growing organically and mainly funded by the founders, however, the startup is expected to be closing the first round (series A), which is expected to be from $10-$15 million. 
"At Classera, everyone is a shareholder, and not just a stakeholder. Despite different nationalities and varied languages being spoken, we all come together to work with passion and deliver inspiring ideas," Mennat Ramadan, director, international institutes department, Classera, said.
"We are seeing the difference we are making in the society and this makes me believe in the success of Classera more than ever. I will be always grateful for being part of the team," Ramadan said. 

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