In this Director Briefing, Manish Goklaney, Co-Founder of Learn Primary Pty Ltd (“the Company”) discusses:
- Learn Primary’s objective to improve learning for children in primary school.
- Creating a platform to offer a learning experience for each child.
- The platform’s use by teachers, children and parents.
We spoke to Manish Goklaney, Co-Founder at Learn Primary, a platform that supplements formal classroom-based learning and allows teachers to use the platform in the classroom to supplement their teaching and children to continue their learning at home with the school aligned curriculum. Parents can engage effectively with their child’s learning using the platform as well.
EdenExchange: Thank you for speaking with us, Manish. Firstly, can you tell us what sparked the initial creation of Learn Primary? What is your background and experience?
Manish Goklaney: Learn Primary was born out of the desire to create a platform to help a group of parents understand what and how children are learning in the classroom. My daughter, who was in primary school at the time, would come up and ask me to show her how to use jump strategy in addition or to teach her fractions. It’s hard to know where to start, even with simple concepts that we might have learnt ourselves but have now forgotten. There is a lot of research supporting the fact that effective parental engagement, especially in the child’s early years, leads to better learning outcomes. Like all parents, I wanted to be involved but didn’t know how. We want Learn Primary to be the platform to enable this engagement.
The curriculum documents are written primarily for teachers, so our initial challenge was to codify the curriculum in a way that could be well understood by parents and children alike. We wanted children to learn from a system that aligns with what they learn at school. We didn’t want it to be one big game that resulted in kids not understanding the foundations of what they’re learning. So our motto from the start was ‘Learning Comes First’!
I have a background in technology and have owned and worked for tech firms, but learning is a different space than I was used to. One of my co-founders, Joe, is a senior primary school teacher. His experience has been invaluable for understanding how we can make learning effective which is the core of our business. Joe and I went to school together so getting together on an education initiative just made sense.
EdenExchange: How did you find yourself in a leadership role with Learn Primary?
Manish Goklaney: When we started Learn Primary there were only 2-3 of us. My co-founder was best suited for the Head of Learning role so I took on the role of CEO. This includes managing software development effort, sales and marketing etc. I was joint CEO in my last venture and had experience in managing the various operational aspects of the role.
EdenExchange: Tell us a bit about Learn Primary – what does it do?
Manish Goklaney: We believe Learn Primary is the most comprehensive and curriculum-aligned learning platform for primary school children in the market today. Our integrated portal allows parents and teachers to effectively play a role in the child’s education whilst keeping the student at the centre of their learning experience. Learn Primary also provides the curricula for Maths and English in one platform. So in effect Learn Primary is a platform that supplements the formal classroom-based learning, allowing children to continue their learning outside of the classroom as they need or want.
We have a methodology that we follow in the platform called Learn → Practice → Assess. From a pedagogical perspective it’s a great method to ensure that children have the best opportunity to learn and retain the concept of what they’re studying. There is also an ‘Assessment’ option that records the child’s performance, that then produces a report and provides feedback to the parent or the teacher. Based on the result, Learn Primary’s adaptive algorithm can also set the next lesson for the child to undertake or provide insight to the teacher allowing them to make decisions around their student’s learning.
The idea is to make study or practice time effective, so our lessons are designed in a way that a ‘Lesson’ (Learn, Practice and Assess) can be completed within 15 minutes. We are also conscious of screen time and ensuring that children have the opportunity to grasp learning objectives in all contexts. We have designed a Parent Zone function with tips from teachers and offline worksheets in order to provide education away from the screen. For example, children can do a measurement lesson in the system, but the Parent Zone might have a worksheet involving children using a measuring tape at home to gain a more hands-on grasp of measurement. We want children to love learning. We have designed a platform that delivers this commitment.
EdenExchange: Why is it that you’ve chosen to focus specifically on primary education? How have you integrated the educational curriculum into Learn Primary?
Manish Goklaney: Our research showed that while there are many avenues for high-school students to acquire learning online and find answers to more complex problems, parents of primary school children tend to re-learn or provide their version of learning that concept. We want the key stakeholders in the child’s learning, i.e parents and teachers, to be able to work with the child in a consistent manner, which would lead to new levels of transparency and synergy.
Australia now has a more consistent curriculum across the country for Maths and English, rather than the fragmented federated model it had in the past. We used these curriculum documents as the starting point for all our content creation to ensure that it aligned. With the rapid proliferation of technology in the classrooms, our platform can be used in the classrooms immediately. The introduction of standardised testing with NAPLAN in Australia also means parents require support for numeracy and literacy for their children in primary school. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is the fact that our education department and their advisors support the concept of personalising learning for every child. There is a recognition that children in a classroom are all learning at a different pace and technology is playing a crucial role in supporting them. Learn Primary can review each task assigned by a teacher and display how each child is performing, providing very quick insight for teachers and allowing them to tailor the learning for each child.
EdenExchange: Talk us through the technology behind your product – how does it work and how does it set itself apart from other digital education platforms?
Manish Goklaney: While there are plenty of reasons Learn Primary stands alone compared to other digital tools in the market, the first and foremost is that we focus on the learning content. There are a lot of systems that have games and practice questions, but they focus on a very narrow aspect of the curriculum. Learn Primary provides Maths and English content addressing the learning objectives as defined in the curriculum to deliver a comprehensive learning platform.
Another differentiating feature is our integrated portal. We have portals for parents and teachers that are connected, working together to provide feedback to each of these stakeholders ensuring a unified approach to the child’s learning. So a teacher may for example use it to set homework and the parent can immediately see what these tasks are, providing a high degree of transparency and opportunity for engagement.
Teachers can use the system within their class and the insight provided to personalise the learning for each child. For example, Learn Primary can direct children to content from other year groups, if the teacher deems it suitable, based on where they’re at in their learning continuum. Treating learning as a continuum is not something that I have seen any other system cater for.
The technology itself is built so that it works on any browser-based platform, which is important as all schools use different technologies (iPads, Chromebooks, Windows PCs, Macs), ensuring a consistent experience across any device. It is cloud-based and can be deployed with very little infrastructure as long as they have an internet connection. Our user interface is built for a purpose and a 6 year old is equally as comfortable using it as their teacher or parent.
EdenExchange: What stage of development is your product currently in? What have been the indicative results of your trial runs so far?
Manish Goklaney: We have two streams that we are tracking:
- The first is core front end and back end systems and user experience.We have a portal each for the child, teacher and parent. We also have a content ingestion system which allows us to rapidly push content into the system, whether it’s the lesson animations or the practice questions. Next is our adaptive logic which provides children, teachers and parents feedback and insight for each child. As we have access to more data we can give real pointed feedback so that each child’s learning experience can be improved.
- The second stream is the creation of the content itself: We are covering both Maths and English for each year group before we move onto the next. We currently have content covering all of Year 2, 3 and 4 and we are looking at launching Year 1 content shortly. This will complete our lower primary school offering and we will look to delivering Year 5 and 6 later in the year.
Thus far, we’ve had more than a couple of thousand people trial Learn Primary. About 40 school classrooms have also been involved in an extensive trial and feedback program. We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the response we’ve received which has been extremely positive about the quality and alignment of the content and also the way that it has been structured in the platform. We have been fortunate enough to have people happily to put their name to a written testimonial – there is no better market validation.
At the start of the school term this year we also rolled out our subscription model. We are passionate about lifting the standard of learning in primary school children and have priced the platform as such. At the moment we are offering two subscription models: one is solely for the parent which works out to be $5 per month, and one is for the school (which is $5 per term per child.) It’s priced at a fraction of the cost of supplementary workbooks or even an hour of tutoring.
EdenExchange: What makes you different from other solutions on the market? What gap in the market are you filling and why is it a good time to be servicing the educational services industry?
Manish Goklaney: Parents are already supplementing their child’s education outside of the formal classroom setting. In fact, Australia’s tutoring and supplementing education market is in excess of $10 billion. We have 2 million primary school kids in the country and our primary school curriculum translates well to other markets like New Zealand, Canada, UK and South Africa, so the market is quite large. Great schools recognise the importance of an engaged home-life in their child’s learning, and for this the parents need more transparency. Technology is ever-prevalent in classrooms and internet access is certainly up to the mark in most parts of the country, making our product easily accessible.
Teachers are looking for resources to make their classroom learning a rich and rewarding experience for their students. There are much higher expectations being placed on them by parents and schools to deliver a personalised learning experience, the importance of which was highlighted in Gonski’s report on Education Reform. Learn Primary will facilitate all of these demands and trends.
EdenExchange: Where do you foresee the greatest demand? What has the response in the market been like to date?
Manish Goklaney: We believe that the best way to bring all of Learn Primary’s benefits to the students, teachers and parents is through the schools picking up Learn Primary. We’ve had quite a few classrooms on our trial program and our first subscription to schools is coming in shortly. For the time being we are seeing a lot of demand from individual parents and the subset of homeschooler parents who need a curriculum-aligned set of resources and an effective method to track their child’s progress. We have parents (homeschoolers included) and schools currently using the system. Within the parent community we have parents who want to engage a lot more and others who are time poorer and want a trusted source of content to support their child’s learning.
All of these groups have very positively commented on what our platform delivers to their child and how easily and effectively they have managed to engage with the child’s learning. We have also formed views about what our roadmap should focus on as a result of active feedback and are confident that there is a product market fit.
EdenExchange: What are the next steps in the development for your company? Where do you see your business in three months as well as a year from now?
Manish Goklaney: The next three months is about delivering our Year 1 content. We will also focus more on raising awareness of Learn Primary, which continues thereafter with a goal of getting thousands more users on the platform over the year. From an operations standpoint this also means that we will scale and mature accordingly. Over the course of this year we expect to see ourselves generating sufficient revenue to support further developmental efforts.
EdenExchange: What’s the best thing about your job? What drives you to do what you do?
Manish Goklaney: The best thing that I get to experience is the learning content coming to life with our teachers, animators and development team. We have a close group of children, parents and schools who provide us with regular feedback and it’s wonderful to see children truly falling in love with learning using Learn Primary. We have a rewards store where kids can exchange some of their hard earned “Gems” and coins for real life rewards such as a Gruff keyring (Gruff is our mascot in the platform who learns along with the children). We have given out quite a few and have received emails from parents telling us about the joy on their child’s face when they received their keyring….they have truly earned it. It’s great to receive such feedback.
EdenExchange: Finally, is there anything you wish to say to anyone interested in pursuing further information about Learn Primary?
Manish Goklaney: We are always grateful for anyone interested in Learn Primary in any capacity. We would like to think that we have a great team with an experienced Board working to build a business on strong fundamentals, so an opportunity to discuss this excites us. We love telling our story, listening to others and identifying strategic opportunities. I’m happy to discuss the business and platform further and directly.
Thank you, Manish. It has been a pleasure.
For more information about Learn Primary Pty Ltd, please visit here (log-in required, joining is free). Alternatively, please contact Dr Mark Rainbird and his team by phone: +61 7 3160 2840 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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