First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Pramod Sharma: My family and I have been doing very well throughout this pandemic. My kids are keeping busy doing virtual learning.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined Osmo
Pramod Sharma: I came from India to pursue graduate study in Computer Science at Stanford University. Afterwards, while working at Google as a Software Engineer. I met the future cofounder of Osmo, Jérôme Scholler. He had also immigrated to the U.S. for study and work. We had similar ideas about using AR (augmented reality) to help kids learn coding in a fun, stimulating, and extremely hands-on way, where they combine the digital and physical worlds while playing.
How does Osmo innovate?
Pramod Sharma: A lot of our ideas come from customer feedback to our products. We have 2 categories of customers: educators (primarily kindergarten and elementary school teachers); and parents of school-aged children. They are in frequent contact with our team, offering constructive feedback and ideas to make our products work better both at home and in the classroom.
In late July, Osmo will launch several new products that focus on children’s love of coding, a lot of it resulting from customer feedback.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Pramod Sharma: It has been a positive experience for Osmo, not just because so many parents realize that they need educational products like ours to keep their kids positively occupied while at home during the pandemic, but also because it pushed Osmo to innovate and create 2 new products to help teachers and kids learn more effectively through virtual learning.
The first launch during this crisis was Projector App, in response to teacher requests for a more engaging, interactive environment. It allows teachers to broadcast the space in front of their tablet (i.e. physical desktop), and vice versa if the student uses it to broadcast his/her desktop. My daughter is also actively using Projector App to learn and practice Hindi during her online tutoring sessions.
This free app, which is compatible with Zoom and other video conferencing technologies, is now being used by 3000 educators since the app’s release in mid-March. When asked what sets Osmo Projector apart from other teaching apps, one educator Dr. Elizabeth Migicovsky, Chemistry Dept. Lecturer at San Jose State University in San Jose, California, says, “The greater potential for both face-to-face interaction and note-taking ability. Most of the apps are just whiteboards, and you never see the instructor’s hands or face. It’s not very personal, and it gets really boring for students. With Projector App, an instructor can be more ‘real’ instead of just having words appear on the screen. It’s more engaging.”
The second innovation concerns my kids’ virtual learning classrooms. I watched closely how both my kids (6 and 10) engage with their teachers and classmates using existing remote learning platforms (which were created for usage by adults), and saw their interest and enthusiasm wane over a very short period of time. Watching them, I knew Osmo could create something much better for elementary school children, to captivate kids’ attention, allow more interaction, and keep them engaged over long periods.
This led to the creation of the newly launched Osmo Live interactive platform for hands on learning, targeting K-5, which kids can access from any type of device (Android and iOS) using a browser. There is nothing like this in the virtual learning market targeting kids, at this time.
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