Akshat Shrivastava is the CEO and founder of Millionlights, a digital platform that offers courses in diverse content areas. It is designed to reach Indians on a large scale, including those in the most remote areas. Shrivastava previously founded Alabot, which was turned into an Artificial Intelligence space, funded by the Malaysian Government.
How did your education and professional experience shape your work now at Millionlights?
I have been fortunate enough to be a part of policy creation in the higher ed space in India through its Ministry of Education. This experience, coupled with experience in my existing IT services company, has helped me understand the gaps in systems and more importantly, how to address them through technology. Millionlights is an extension of this knowledge and understanding of the system.
The early part of my education centered around business and commerce such as finance, strategy, and operations. Thereafter, having travelled extensively due to my businesses in various industries, I realized that India was very unique and responded to market forces within its own cultural context. It was still a growing population, almost at the billion mark and approximately 200 million potentially in the education space for the ages of 18–28.
There was still a very big demand for education in this part of the world at that time as it was seen as the way out to a better future. One could even go far as to see this as the route to The Indian dream. It was already quite clear where the future was relative to the vast proportion of the population. Advancements in technology have opened up new areas in IT that did not exist 10 years ago. Being on the forefront of knowledge in your field is essential for survival. My successes and mistakes have both directed me toward the path of learning and education, an industry where I work today.
How do you hope your work at Millionlights will change the learning landscape?
At Millionlights, our focus is on higher ed and industry-led industry certified skills and vocational training. With our enormous reach across three platforms (desktop, mobile, and television), we will provide access to education and training to millions of learners who are currently not served via the traditional access systems. Our vision is to reach every possible learner and make a large number of people employable. If we succeed, this will most certainly change the learning landscape.
What broad trends do you think will have the most impact on learning in the years ahead?
- In most countries, and especially in India, success in teaching will lie at the cusp of education and technology. The vast population can only be reached through the use of information and communication technology. Hence, the use of technology will have a major impact on learning.
- While the use of MOOCs is a relatively new phenomenon, various studies have shown that one of the more successful methods of educating the masses is the use of MOOCs. There will undoubtedly be changes in the method of educational delivery, assessment, etc., as we learn from experience.
- Flipped and blended learning will see greater usage in classrooms as we move forward.
- Learners will increasingly demand courses that can directly impact their ability to gain meaningful employment.
Apart from your role at Millionlights, what are you currently working on and what is your next big project?
I am concentrating on building scale into Millionlights at this point and have not thought about the next project. I believe that what we are trying to accomplish at Millionlights is in itself a long-term vision.
Who are the most interesting people you are following on Twitter?
Follow Akshat at @akshats_1