A virtual We Talk on “Learner First-Unlocking the Learning Potential” was organized by Womennovator and Financepeer, a peer-to-peer lending platform connecting individual borrowers to lenders digitally. Womennovator and Financepeer – Learner First-Unlocking the Learning Potential The organizers invited experts from the education ecosystem and Edtech startups to find the answer to a simple question – ‘how do we learn’, exploring the role of Learner Centered – Learner First approach to learning. Panelists included Tripti Shinghal Somani, Founder of Womennovator, Debiprasad Baral, Co-founder & CTO, Financepeer, Dr. Cliff Zintgraff, Chief Learning Officer of SAMSAT, Prerna Gupta, Strategic initiatives at RIL, Komal Sood, Educationalist & Principal at The Army Public School, Manish Gupta, Chairman at JIMS, Charushilla Narula – Founder Director, University Connection, and Digvijay Gagneja – COO, Leverage Edu. The session was moderated by Simmi Puri, Co-founder CISO Cybersecurity. Learner First, Unlocking the learning potential | Womennovator & Financepeer Even prior to the “physical lockdown”, learning outcomes had been suboptimal. Teachers have remained trapped in outdated curriculum, and teaching methodologies have not been able to generate curiosity (to learn) in the minds of the learners. The World Bank believes we are in the grips of a learning crisis, where 60% of children today globally fail to achieve minimum standards of reading and arithmetic as a result of poor-quality teaching. And while infusion of technology in schools might aid in enhancing students’ learning outcomes, technology alone probably isn’t enough to bring about the desired systematic change. Tripti Shinghal highlighted that STEM is a novel approach to learning and focuses on practical aspects of education. STEM is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons. The session started with Dr. Cliff Zintgraff, who has done pioneering work on STEM learning programs and is a great believer of inquiry-based learning. “I believe experiential learning is the most engaging and effective way to teach. For learner-centric instruction to scale up, we need to align the designers of the curriculum with teachers in the classroom; we need to know how learners are engaging with the content, especially the ones who are challenged by the topic to ensure equal learning outcomes,AI-Powere,” he said. Deviprasad Baral, from Financepeer, highlighted the power of education and its impact on a person’s life. “Financepeer, came up with this novel idea of bringing in ‘affordability’ of quality education by financially enabling parents and helping their children realize the education dream. We are creating a ‘Netflix’ of learning content at affordable pricing and also offering free ERP solutions to academia (for one full academic year) to ensure continuity of their operations. Apart from enabling easy access to education loans, our other value-added service (VAS), is free insurance to parents and children – in case of any unforeseen event or tragedy during the child’s academic life – the entire fee is borne by Financepeer. Ours is a unique, AI-Powered “peer-to-peer” lending platform and is playing a vital role in democratization of “quality” education – in making “aspirational India” realize its education dream,” he shared with the attendees. Komal Sood emphasised on how policies in the past have had incremental changes (most of them in silos) without integrating it with the next stage of education. “Our designers have been quite radical – from School Education to Higher Education, the NEP envisions to provide a new structure to the education sector of the country. Students are free to choose any subjects, all subjects are equal, and can pursue the same in higher education. Restructuring the 10+2 to 5+3+3+4 is a progressive shift towards a more scientific approach to education,” she added. Charushilla Narula said that just like the interdisciplinary approach in subjects being proposed – we need to marry the role of a career counselor and psychologist to work effectively on career development and student well-being. Digvijay Gagneja, from Leverage Edu, the AI-counselling platform, explained how machine learning algorithms do the matching and help students select their colleges and career paths. However, he agreed that picking the right college and career is indeed the biggest decision of one’s life-AI will always be an enabler, but the human aspect (the counselor) is critical. “Starting from a point where the student has multiple options to choose from, to narrowing it down what is the most suitable college and career, AI kicks in enabling the students, parents and counselors to make informed decisions – AI kicks in “small small step” throughout the student’s journey – this needs to be stitched by the (human) counselor. At Leverage Edu, machine learning algorithms also do the matching and help students get connected with alumni of top global universities and working professionals to mentor them,” he shared. About Womennovator Womennovator is a virtual incubator for women, was started in the year of 2014 with the motive in mind to make a virtual incubator for women entrepreneurs or women who do have exceptional ideas and want to get a platform to grow. It is an initiative with the goal of helping women entrepreneurs to grow local economies by providing business education and training, mentoring and networking, win new revenue contract – domestically and internationally through interaction with Industry leaders, embassy connect, provide media reach (digital and print) through their story on exclusive YouTube Channel, access to capital and Govt. Support schemes across the country.