Edtech startup Vedantu, the pioneer in live online tutoring classes in the country, is set to introduce the 'Child Safety Policy' to ensure a safe digital learning environment to its students.
Amid the on-going coronavirus pandemic, the classrooms have moved from traditional medium to gadgets to maintain uninterrupted learning. Meanwhile, it is also being observed that increased hours of online activities are accompanied by a host of risks including cyberbullying, trolling and harassment.
Offering affordable quality education has been the core focus area for the brand, however, with setting up of one-of-its-kind #ChildSafetyFirst initiative, Vedantu is leading the march, enabling 'digital supervision' to its 100k daily active students who are accessing classes from home.
To secure tangible results, the start-up has collaborated with Space2grow, a consulting firm that works with organisations to create relevant social impact and specialises in child protection, Pulkit Jain, co-founder and product head, Vedantu, told The Logical Indian.
"We have been two steps ahead in bringing interactivity and engagement to LIVE online learning for students across India. As a responsible and socially conscious brand, the safety of our learners and teachers is paramount and we are looking at setting new benchmarks for the industry. Our partnership with Space2Grow will help us continue to chart that course by ensuring that we have the right expertise and execution capability when it comes to the critical area of child safety. Our highly competent Child Safety Team comprising of legal experts and counsellors will closely work with the leadership team and Space2Grow team to uphold the safety of our learners and teachers at all times," said the co-founder.
Explaining the significance of the initiative in the current scenario, Chitra Iyer, Founder Space2Grow, said, "The education sector has been witnessing a massive transition to online learning. One in three children is making use of the internet, hence it was inevitable to address the digital safety concerns of the students.
The policy includes a gamut of digital safety and digital self-care information, measures to create awareness on digital etiquette and code of conduct, company's zero-tolerance policy and most importantly — a redressal mechanism.
A dedicated team comprising experts, counsellors and a hearing committee has been set up to cater to the digital safety concerns. The first step is to educate our stakeholders on the possibility of such issues. We believe awareness would help us prevent the occurrences rather than acting on an incident."
A need for parents to have open communication with their children, acknowledging the possibility and being informed about instances of online abuse to identify it are some of the key aspects that form part of the training process for the parents within the initiative.
"Data can help us prevent instances of harassment and abuse. It can play a pivotal role in educating the younger generations on life's 'how-to'. With brick-and-mortar classrooms, the scope to know about a child's activity was limited but with online learning, it has become simpler and accessible.
Mechanisms, where students can reach out to us, has also been established which will help us counsel them and it would also play an important role making them lead a conscious life in the real world as well," said Pulkit.
"Scenario-building, empowering the children and parents with knowledge on online safety and a protection mechanism would aid us in making the concept of absolute child safety — a reality," stated Chitra.
Simplifying the process, Pulkit said that the existing communities where the students and the teachers interact for doubt-solving, raising concerns, peer-to-teacher conversations/forums can be filtered through to flag abusive language, if used. He further added that the process has been designed keeping the privacy perspective into consideration and the algorithms can be used to improve the efficacy of the environment.
Any phrases or words that could potentially disrupt the orderly conduct of classes or within the Vedantu community; using loud or offensive language or displaying temper during class hours; use of defamatory, offensive or derogatory comments, pictures, videos, intimidating, harassing or discriminating any person on the basis of their race, colourimpact consulti, creed, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation or disability are part of Vedantu's digital conduct guide.
Highlighting the fact that as a fast-growing startup, Vedantu's objective has been to provide education that adds value, however, the evolving-process has also led the brand to make 'children feel safe' as one of its priorities.
"This is a 'digital by default' generation and online abuse can leave potential scars on the lives of such children. We created the 'LIVE' medium of communication and every innovation comes with a set of challenges, so we decided to dive into it and also create a safe ecosystem that could act as an example for other organisations in the ed-tech space.
The Child Safety Team will audit the existing process and for the upcoming projects, this team will play the role of a check-point that will prevent the instances of online abuse and harassment and step in during incidents of redressal," specified the entrepreneur.