Educational apps

Sweeping changes required to approach teaching, learning, and education delivery models: Crimson Education

Crimson Education was founded in 2013 with a vision to equalize the university admissions playing field, serving as the launching pad that equips students across the globe to overcome barriers of geography and legacy to compete on the world stage.

Today, Crimson Education is the world’s leading US/UK education consultancy. The personalized data-driven approach has helped thousands of students gain admission into the Ivy League, Oxbridge, and other top universities.

Kunal Mehra, International Education Consultant for Crimson India, tells us more. Excerpts from an interview:

DQ: Post the Covid-19 era, there has been a huge shift in the education industry, from teaching patterns to learning patterns everything has undergone a huge transformation. Can you share your opinions on the same?

Kunal Mehra: Covid-19 has disrupted many industries (not to say most parts of our life), but none as much as the education sector. While it seems like the most conspicuous change was the adoption of technology or the lack of it in the first phase of the pandemic, when we realized how inadequately resourced our educational institutions were – from not having the infrastructure to support millions of students who were left stranded to trying to replicate the offline model online.

Kunal
DQI Bureau | DATAQUEST Kunal Mehra.

I believe, the biggest change is the realization that the education sector needs reform, that our teaching methods need to evolve, and in a post-pandemic world full of uncertainty our curriculums need to be re-thought — the system has served us well for many decades (or perhaps, centuries). Everything has its sell-by-date, and for our current educational systems, that date’s at least 20 years over.

Post-Covid-19, all stakeholders, whether be it administrators, educators, parents, or students have realized the need for some sweeping changes in the way we approach teaching, learning, and education delivery models. The way education is delivered hasn’t changed for 200 years. While there were attempts, but mostly feeble, it had to take a pandemic to wake us out of our stupor.

As an example, at Crimson, a year before the pandemic, we had launched an ‘online-only high school’ called the Crimson Global Academy, and within a span of 2 years, we are now the second-largest online high school in the world and in a year likely to be the largest.

DQ: How is technology influencing the education industry? Are we, as a nation, successful in accepting/ adopting these changes?

Kunal Mehra: While, in the last two decades there has been some work on introducing and imagining a technological intervention in education, however, I would say we haven’t scratched the surface when it comes to truly leverage technology in education. Surely, putting out recorded videos, reading materials, and some quizzes online or teaching a class via video conferencing can’t be the extent of technology that we can imagine.

Even though we have perhaps the highest number of Edtech Unicorns, I believe, as a nation, we still have a tenuous relationship with tech-enabled education. As harsh as it may sound, if there has been a silver lining to the pandemic, it is a wake-up call on how as a nation we desperately need to embrace and adopt large-scale technological solutions to enable millions of students.

As with most industries, in education to the private sector mostly took the initiative of experimenting with tech-enabled learning models (Coursera, Edx, Byjus to name a few). I do see a mindshift and a new openness towards technology-enabled education even in traditional quarters, such as higher education institutions and government-aided institutions. Going back to my earlier example, when we launched the Crimson Global Academy (CGA), we faced a lot of skepticism about whether that would work and would get questioned its efficacy.

The results prove itself (at CGA, each class has an average score of 90%). Unlike traditional brick and mortar learning models where scale can often have an inverse relationship with quality and learning outcomes, online models don’t face the same resourcing constraints and behave efficiently even at 100x scale.

DQ: How is Crimson Education helping in uplifting the Indian student community abroad?

Kunal Mehra: We are the world’s leading admissions consulting and mentoring firm. We send more students to the Ivy league and Oxbridge than any other admissions consultant in the world. Crimson Education is perhaps the largest collection of the Ivy League and Oxbridge alum under one roof — with a team of over 2,000 mentors, consultants, tutors, and the leadership team, each of whom is alumni of the world’s best universities.

Through a combination of customized 1:1 mentoring, along with a strong tech backbone – we give our students the best possible shot at their best-fit universities. Crimson provides anything and everything a student needs to get admitted to a top university — from strategy and essay writing to profile building, extracurriculars, internships, and standardized tests to elite services such as having a Former Admissions Officer support you or a professor from top universities guide you with a research paper.

Crimson, for the first time, has made it possible for Indian students across the country to work with mentors, guides, and tutors who have graduated from top universities in the USA and UK and get the most accurate advice and support in their applications to the most competitive universities across the globe.

DQ: Explain how Crimson App works, and what are its USPs?

Kunal Mehra: The Crimson app is the backbone of the work we do with our students. We firmly believe that in addition to a strong team of mentors, one needs a robust and seamless process to be able to maximize the impact of their work. The Crimson app provides the much-needed structure and an outcome-oriented approach to the work a student does with their mentors.

The app allows us to document, record, and track the progress of everything a student does over the course of their application journey (which can often be as long as 3-4 years). The app has in-built visual tools that leverage proven project management methodologies to give each student a personalized visual roadmap with Gant charts, timelines, and to-do lists that ensure all the advice translates to tangible outcomes for the student. Students can communicate with their mentors through the instant messaging service in the app, allowing them to continuously stay in touch with their mentors.

DQ: How was the idea of Pathfinder conceptualized? Can you explain its features, and how it enables a student’s chance to get accepted into Top Ivy Leagues or top colleges in US and UK?

Kunal Mehra: Pathfinder was born out of a two-pronged need, the first is to take our Strategists’ advice to the next level and help them provide more strategic, targeted, specific, and achievable guidance to students on their journey to admissions success. It’s an important tool in a Strategists arsenal, which aids in mapping out intermediate goals for students leading up to the application cycle and tracking progress along the way. The second is to help the students wade through all the noise and hundreds of options that are available to them and be able to carve their own unique journey with a personalized mix of activities that maximize their personal narrative. Pathfinder gamifies the entire admissions process.

Crimson Pathfinder is an optimization tool — the higher a student scores on Crimson Pathfinder, the more optimized their profile will be, and the more competitive of an applicant they’ll be for top schools. This tool includes progress bars for each component in a student’s application — Academics, Standardized Tests, Extracurriculars, Majors/Careers/School Choice, and Personal Development (which includes reading and writing), and a time tracker that calculates how on track the student is to achieve their chosen target level by September of their application year. Each of these individual components is essentially a list of potential achievements, activities, or pursuits that a Strategist and student can pick from.

In essence, Pathfinder allows a strategist to create a flexible, personalizable, comprehensive, and most importantly a scalable map for guiding their students towards achieving their full potential. It’s also a smart reality check that aids in keeping students accountable for their progress. In each student’s journey, it opens up multiple avenues to build a competent profile as there are hundreds of different ways to get from one level to the next. This allows our Strategists to personalize each of their students’ paths to their precise needs and increase their chances of acceptance at Top US and UK universities.

DQ: With so much technical advancement, what are your predictions of upcoming edtech trends?

Kunal Mehra: We have just gotten started, even though edtech seems to already be the flavor of the season for investors and entrepreneurs alike. I believe, we have a long road ahead of us when it comes to how tech will influence how we teach and learn.

As a nation with the highest adoption rates for Internet and mobile, I feel the stage is set for us to lead the way in the education technology story. Unlike some of the other sectors where tech played a transformational role, such as eCommerce, and urban transport, the education sector is seeing a demand-side push, which means the incentives for innovation are going to be exponential – to me that’s incredibly exciting. I truly feel the next wave of innovation in education is around the corner and I’m hopeful we’ll go from merely digitizing content to developing futuristic learning systems in this decade.

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