Published: 17th May 2020
Zoho Classes will be given free to government school kids to hasten their digital push post-lockdown
Students can attend live classes, get access to online courses, content by their teachers, complete and upload assignments and much more
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, education as we knew it has changed completely. With the possibility of classes going online for a large part of the next few months, the need for innovative tech to facilitate the transition is the need of the hour. Chennai-based software giant Zoho has come up with Zoho Classes to aid that transition process. Part of the Bharat Padhe Online campaign by the Government of India, the app is an amalgamation of all their previous products, says Rajendran Dandapani, Director of Technology, Zoho. "The product was already in development before COVID-19. We wanted to create a platform that combines all our products like a customer relationship manager, payment gateway, document storing and sharing, live chat and so on," explains Rajendran.
Through the app, teachers can interact with their students via live classes, students can upload their assignments while teachers can upload worksheets and study material. "The app will also contain online courses that the students can watch anytime. The teachers can also create their own content for their students through video, presentations, excel sheets and so on," says Dev Anand, Director of Product Management, Zoho. Each school will have their own portals and students of that school will be able to access it, adds Dev.
The app will be offered free of cost to all government schools as part of the campaign. "We have always wanted to democratise access to information and uplift the rural society using software. As more and more content and courses transition online, the cost of such courses will also decrease and more courses will become free," adds Rajendran.
What about online safety? Several video conferencing platforms have come in for sharp criticism for their security flaws. "At Zoho, we don't have advertisement-based revenue nor do we use third-party products to facilitate video conferencing. All the products have been developed by us. Video conferencing will be one-way and the students will also need parental approval in addition to authenticating their email ids," says Rajendran, "Since students will also be able to post content (which can be seen only by their teachers) and comment on the app, it will be moderated by a teacher or the course coordinator. This will address the issue of cyberbullying."
But what about bad internet connectivity? "The algorithm will allow low bandwidth connectivity, especially in areas with inadequate internet infrastructure. We already use this in our other products meant for business meetings, which has been integrated into Zoho Classes," points out Rajendran. If a student cannot watch a live class, they will be able to download it and watch it later. Zoho also plans to create their own content for Zoho Classes.