We are building devices that meet today’s demand for blended learning: Rahul Agarwal, CEO & MD, Lenovo India

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February 22, 2021 1:00 AM

Lenovo is determined to ensure smarter technology for education and equal opportunities are available for all communities.

RAHUL AGARWAL, MD & CEO, Lenovo IndiaRAHUL AGARWAL, MD & CEO, Lenovo India

In the current scenario, while several sectors have quickly adapted to the digitalised world, education is one sector which is still struggling in India, especially in the rural areas where children without access to smart devices and internet have seen their schooling upended. Device manufacturer Lenovo is looking to fulfil the need for advanced solutions for learners and educators in India. Rahul Agarwal, CEO & managing director, Lenovo India, talks about Lenovo’s Smart Technology for Education vision and how “we are enabling it via multiple initiatives across products, services, solutions, corporate responsibility and much more,” in a recent chat with Sudhir Chowdhary. Excerpts:

With the pandemic affecting the entire education ecosystem, what role is Lenovo playing in shaping the education market?
Lenovo has collaborated with Meghshala Trust, a not-for-profit, to promote education technology and to support teacher training and value education systems across India. With Lenovo’s investment of $80,000, Meghshala implemented e-learning classrooms in Karnataka, Manipur, Sikkim, and Meghalaya. Agastya International Foundation in partnership with Lenovo India has announced that it has impacted over 6000 underprivileged students with its mobile science education outreach programmes. Lenovo India CSR has invested $100,000 in the Lenovo and Motorola Skills Academy programme, which offers counselling, training, skill assessments, and placement for candidates who complete the programme. Lenovo’s partner Children’s Love Castles Trust India empowers teachers by designing digital STEM tools for student learning.

Our product portfolio best suited for online education include Yoga and IdeaPad Series and Chrometabs and Tablets. Our advanced solutions also enable new models of teaching and collaboration, which help manage the cost, efficiency, and security. Lenovo’s marketing efforts also include exclusive back-to-school (BTS) and back-to-college (BTC) student offers, which are also segueing into the growth of ‘learning from home’ and helping consumers embrace this new model of education.

How does Lenovo plan to meet the evolving demands of hybrid learning?
Lenovo seeks to enhance digital literacy for students to benefit from hybrid learning. We offer various educational solutions to meet the ever-evolving demands of this new model of learning. We are investing in STEM education, to increase opportunity for diverse populations, and empower employees to improve global communities. We have partnered with technology leaders such as Microsoft, Google, AMD and Intel to expand our portfolio of smarter technology to new form factors and build innovative devices suitable for remote learning. We also work with software developers and content creators to offer learning platforms that facilitate synchronous learning.

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2020, found that only 11% of students had access to live online classes. What is Lenovo doing to address this challenge?
Lenovo is determined to ensure smarter technology for education and equal opportunities are available for all communities. To make this possible, the Lenovo Foundation has invested $13 million in developing infrastructure and solutions by partnering with various institutions.

Lenovo in conjunction with eVidyaloka, a not-for-profit education organisation, launched the SmarterEd platform in April 2020, to match students and teachers for one-on-one learning. The platform has secured over 11,000 volunteer teachers and nearly 15,000 student registrations in its first four months. We also support seven skill academies for young adults in Tier 2 and 3 cities, skilling them in laptop and mobile sales and servicing, and data entry courses, thus enhancing their opportunities for employment .

What are your views about the future of the edtech industry for 2021?
The surge in distance learning will have long-term effects on education, as schools/colleges implement and manage increased digitisation in administration and curriculum with the changing teaching methodology to suit it. We expect to see significant changes in the education market over the next five years like:

  • 5G will transform traditional classrooms by introducing immersive lessons with real-time feedback, access to content creation, and more out-of-classroom learning
  • Greater deployment of multifaceted communication tools to manage out-of-classroom interactions and engagements
  • Institutions will rethink campus operations to deploy more automated systems that help reduce scheduling errors and admin inefficiencies
  • Implement end-to-end cashless payments for tuition fees, grants management, donations, etc.

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