BYJU’S AI model BADRI uses knowledge tracing technique to build tailor-made solutions for students, said cofounder Divya Gokulnath
Speaking at Inc42’s The Makers Summit, he cofounder said that BYJU’S has learning labs in Bengaluru, London and Palo Alto, which are dedicated solely to building innovative solutions
Gokulnath believes that the future of learning would not be completely online and education would be best delivered in a hybrid manner
At a time when generative artificial intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT are the buzzwords in the startup world, edtech giant BYJU’S, too, does not seem far behind when it comes to adopting new and emerging technologies.
At a fireside chat during Inc42’s The Makers Summit 2023, BYJU’S cofounder Divya Gokulnath spoke about how the startup is deploying innovation, especially in the domain of AI.
Gokulnath said that BYJU’S has developed and deployed an in-house AI model, called BADRI, to provide personalised and tailored learning experiences as per the needs and abilities of students.
Elaborating further on the AI model, Gokulnath said the company uses a technique called knowledge tracing to build tailor-made solutions for students. In essence, BADRI analyses the interactions of each student with the platform, be it how they answer questions or which videos they view or even how they perform in the tests.
This data is then run through the AI model to predict how the student will perform in future exams. The platform processes every single interaction to make ‘accurate predictions’..
“So, unlike any other AI models that have only a 40% to 60% accuracy rate, BADRI uses every single previous interaction to make accurate predictions with every question,” Gokulnath said.
Giving an example of knowledge decay, Gokulnath said that the startup’s learning app leverages algorithms to predict when an individual is likely to forget a particular concept and intervenes accordingly.
Simply put, knowledge decay refers to the loss of mastery over a skill, craft or knowledge over a period of time because of a lack of practice.
The BYJU’S cofounder also said that the startup has learning labs in Bengaluru, London and Palo Alto, which are dedicated solely to building innovative edtech solutions.
Acquisitions Bearing Fruits?
BYJU’S research labs are leveraging technology to improve the products of the edtech unicorn, Gokulnath said. However, she emphasised that it is important to incorporate only those technologies that are largely mainstream and create impact at scale.
The result is products that span across countries and age groups. The company claims to be one of the top edtech players in the UAE and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council. To bolster its play in the region, BYJU’S also joined as one of the official sponsors of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar last year.
As per Gokulnath, BYJU’S caters to 15 Cr users across the globe, providing reskilling and tuition to people in the 4-40 years age group.
While 75% of its 15 Cr users come from India, BYJU’S has also tried to make headway globally. The push has largely been led by the slew of acquisitions it made in the past few years.
In 2021, BYJU’s acquired reading platform Epic for $500 Mn and followed it up by buying Singapore-based Great Learning for $600 Mn. Later, it acquired US-based Tynker to strengthen and expand its operations across the US.
Last year, the Byju Raveendran-led company also acquired executive education firm Northwest in a stock and cash deal.
These acquisitions have not only helped BYJU’S expand operations across the globe but also widen its talent pool and access to new technologies. The unicorn has used the acquired companies smartly to roll out new features for its products, that too at a cost lower than its competitors.
Overall, the company has been investing heavily in terms of scaling up its tech stack and deploying emerging technologies to build innovative platforms and offerings. Apart from AI, BYJU’S labs also tinker with emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), computer vision and gamification to make the products more interactive and attractive for potential customers.
Phygital The Future?
Speaking to 100X.VC’s founder and partner Shashank Randev, Gokulnath said that students of BYJU’S tuition centres (BTCs) are provided a customised learning path that includes the ‘most suitable mix’ of physical and digital offerings.
She also noted that while 2020 was the year of online education, 2022 turned out to be all about hybrid learning. Gokulnath said that while Edtech 1.0, which came around in the late 1990s, was focused more on digitising the processes, the current era of Edtech 2.0 employs advanced tools and emphasises personalised and collaborative learning.
She believes that the future of learning would not be completely online and education would be best delivered in a hybrid manner – a mix of digital and physical.
Talking about BYJU’S phygital pivot, Gokulnath said that apart from making people realise the importance of digital learning, the pandemic also showed that hybrid learning is the future.
“BYJU’S was actually fortunate to be a part of a sector of positive relevance during an unprecedented time (pandemic). So, from making content free to launching new product offerings and from making flagship programs available in multiple vernacular languages to onboarding industry experts to scale different verticals, we were working hard and apart from each other… (during) the pandemic, we learned that the best of learning is actually hybrid,” Gokulnath said.
Among other things, she also said that ChatGPT can reduce the burden of mundane tasks and increase productivity, allowing humans to focus on things which machines can never offer.
Despite the recent struggles of the edtech sector, BYJU’S has been looking to leverage its existing acquisitions and strengths to innovate. While its size does pose a challenge, BYJU’S calls itself an elephant with wings that aims to keep growing.
“Sometimes, I feel like we’re a large elephant with wings, trying to soar. But, again, at the ground, we’re making things happen,” Gokulnath said, summing up the desire to try new things and fly even higher.