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MBD: Bridging the digital divide in education

With its rich legacy in publishing, MBD Group successfully entered the new age digital space a decade ago with education products for the masses. Now, the recent foray into AR, VR and robotics is all set to transform MBD into a world-class edutainment company, says Monica Malhotra Kandhari, Managing Director, MBD Group

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Can you share with us some notable milestones of MBD Group’s long history and your transition from a publishing major to provider of digital solutions in education?

With a humble beginning in 1956, from a single bookstore in Jalandhar, Punjab, MBD Group grew to be the leading publisher by publishing books for all classes, all subjects, major boards, in multiple languages; nationally and internationally. With technological advancements, MBD also kept evolving itself to compliment new age digital publishing and MBD’s digital contents have over 7 million users. In addition, MBD Disha the flagship teacher capacity-building program trains close to 70,000 teachers annually.

Now, with the recent foray into AR, VR and robotics, MBD Group is all set to transform into a world-class edutainment company. On traditional training front, MBD Skills has been a pioneering initiative in skill development for IT, ITeS and hospitality industry. Over 35,000 people have been trained and the target is to provide skill training to one million people by 2025.

From a publication house, MBD Group has not only transformed itself into the largest education company in India but also diversified in the education sector. The group is also a name to reckon with in hospitality and real estate sectors. MBD Neopolis – mixed use developments (retail and entertainment) and the Radission Blu hotels in Noida and Ludhiana have consistently been the trendsetters and an icon in their respective sectors.

What are your key digital education products for students and how they are benefiting from the same?

MBD Alchemié, is our e-learning platform backed by our strong legacy in publishing educational books for students. The E-Content for school education is curated with the aim to enhance online education and re-define learning both inside and outside the classroom. It caters to students, teachers, parents, corporate, institutions and government, targeting every learner. Building on its rich pedagogy in publishing quality content, MBD Alchemié has successfully implemented Ecademy Solution (Digital Classrooms) in 3500 private schools and 5000+ government schools across various states in India along with 500+ schools in South Africa and Srilanka. The company also conducts 1000+ workshops for teachers on yearly basis covering various topics like classroom management, IoT, leadership and motivation, pedagogy, etc.

One can find a bouquet of apps by MBD Group on Play Store and Apple Store, right from Kindergarten to Grade XII. The apps include animated stories, rhymes, alphabets etc., for kindergarten kids and for senior grades all the concepts of Science, Mathematics, SST etc., are available in video format along with assessments and detailed analytics.

To support the learning and teaching community, we have recently launched ACME app on Play Store (app is available free of cost for two months) for Grade I to XII – the online study material on the app is expressed clearly to aid effortless understanding of students, our e-books cover a wide range of syllabi adhering strictly to the CBSE board. The content features insights from books authored by erudite and experience academicians of repute. Our digital content aims at engaging students so that they continue learning in a streamlined manner. After going through the content students can opt for assessments, which would prepare them for examinations and entrance tests.

What are the advantages for educational institutions (operationally / cost factor, etc.)?

MBD products are developed for the masses in line with the founders’ vision of an MBD product for every literate person and are hence priced to suit the pockets of many. MBD has a strong legacy and a huge repository of knowledge accumulated over the decades enabling us to curate the best up-to-date content and our platform agnostic delivery of e-learning contents make is easy for institutions and students to benefit from our product.

Which category of institutions and which regions are you primarily targeting? How open are Indian educational institutions regarding adoption of emerging technologies?

We work on pan India basis and provide study material for all subjects, all classes, all Boards and in 14+ regional languages including English and Hindi and five international languages.

Our clients are students, teachers, schools, colleges and universities. Today majority schools are using some or other form of technology available with them to enhance teaching and learning experience be it mobile phones or interactive boards or some video conferencing facility.

In the current scenario, with focus on students studying at home due to Covid-19 outbreak, how will it impact the future of the education industry in India?

The Covid-19 outbreak and resultant lockdown conditions has forced students to study at home and schools to adopt e-learning technologies to remain in touch with their students.

Schools will be more open to adopt technology now and we will see sales no growing for IT hardware industry along with usage of cloud computing and Learning Management Systems. Consumption of online content has increased drastically during this period and we feel that consumption will increase with fine balance with traditional learning.

What role do you see MBD Group playing in this changed scenario?

We have been present in digital space since more than a decade now and have been pioneers in the publishing industry to launch first AR app Nytra for Education, along with other 100 other apps for primary kids on play store and apple store. With more and more students, teachers and institutes using technology we see a great potential in this space.

We foresee a great digital future for MBD products in the near future and are poised to support the learning and teaching community.

What are your plans for the future, regarding introduction of new technology products as well as strategic expansion?

We have recently launched our mobile application ACME for Grade I to XII for CBSE Board students on Android platform and are all set to launch our digital products for state board students in regional language by end of June 2020. Same app with updated features will be available for iOS user very soon.

Innovation is what drives our organisation, our dedicated Research and IT wing are always at the helm of things.

We will be expanding reach of our digital products in Asia Pacific region and in few African countries.

Is there any other important factor regarding the education scenario that you would like to share?

Looking at how e-learning has proven to be a life-saver in this difficult times, we must look at addressing the digital divide which has resulted in a massive gap in access to e-learning. While there will be various factors and causes we must as a whole look at bridging this gap, at least in the e-learning space so that students across the country have an equal access to and benefit from digital learning.

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