Education is the foundation upon which we build our future. However, it is rather surprising how little emphasis is given on measuring teaching performance in higher education. And this is not only the case in the US but most universities in the world measure “Teaching Effectiveness” using outdated survey methods that have time and again been shown to be ineffective, unreliable, biased, and having zero correlation with student learning!
Mesh Education offers a SAAS EDTech solution that combines lecture audio with its proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) to create a data-driven solution that improves teaching performance and student engagement in real-time.
Two years ago, the company got convinced that by enabling and then measuring student engagement one could create data-driven tools and optimize lectures. Today that vision is Mesh. The world’s first real-time teaching analytics tool for university lecturers designed to help every teacher become more engaging by giving students a superior learning experience.
Mesh Education’s mission is to enable every speaker to become their best version. The company envisions a world where human intuition is augmented by machine intelligence.
The Steadfast Leadership
Arnav Choudhury is the Founder of Mesh Education. He started the company from an idea in his mind to a concept on paper, and ultimately to a working product while teaching at the University of California, San Diego. Over the past two years, Arnav has worked with over 90 individuals from over 10 nationalities while being a full-time student. He has been able to assemble a team of “A-players” who love what they do and are working on the cutting-edge of AI.
Arnav’s unique perspective comes from his training as a Biomedical engineer, interest in the field of AI, and having been a teacher in the classroom. He has seen both sides of the coin – as a student and the teacher. Arnav leveraged his personal experience to not only build a technologically advanced product but one that is intuitive and simple enough to be used by university professors.
Arnav has been invited to give a talk to Democrats from 25 countries around the world on how to encourage entrepreneurship in their respective countries with special emphasis on student entrepreneurship. He has also judged startup competitions in the past.
Disruptive Student-Teacher Engagement Platform
Mesh is changing the way professors teach globally by helping professors better engage their students using state-of-the-art AI.
An early proof of that is a Japanese joint-venture with two successful Japanese businessmen, Robert Michael Collick and Naruhiko Yanagi. Japan is uniquely suited to take advantage of Mesh since Japanese culture is less extroverted than American culture resulting in a lower quality of feedback.
“No one in the world is even thinking about this problem the way we are! We are solving a problem that professors did not know they had, using data that no one thought we could work with, using technologies that have only become available in the last 2-3 years,” Arnav said.
“Mesh is using classroom audio, among other parameters, to help professors better understand student engagement and sentiment while there is still time for them to give their students the most superior learning experience that 21st-century technology can provide!”
The company is proud to have a talented team. One of Mesh’s earliest machine learning engineers, Badal Satyarthi, has developed an algorithm that can judge if a question asked by a student is good or not. Combining that with another module developed by Hardik Bhatt has allowed Mesh to separate multiple speakers talking over each other, counting the number of interactions between the professor and the student, for how long did the interactions last, and also classify whether it was the professor talking or the student talking! And this is done purely from lecture audio! Another member, Utkarsh Shukla, has created a novel algorithm that allows university Deans to sift through a large collection of Teacher Evaluation comments by students by classifying them as useful and not useful.
Mesh is completely changing how feedback is delivered, processed, and used. The company provides actionable feedback that professors can use immediately to help their students. Mesh is a tool ONLY for universities and professors who care about student learning and student engagement.
Charting New Horizons in Higher Education
Mesh’s biggest contribution is in the Higher Education industry where it is doing for teaching what Google Analytics did for website metrics! The company believes that what gets measured gets improved.
“For the first time, in the history of the world, universities are facing tremendous competition from MOOCs, boot camps, other non-traditional ways of schooling. If universities want to stay competitive, they need to invest more in teacher training and development programs and Mesh would be the perfect tool to make that happen since what doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get improved,” Arnav mentioned.
Awards and Client Testimonials
Mesh Education has been blessed to be a part of some of the best accelerators and incubators including Google’s Startup program, Nvidia’s accelerator as well as the New York University’s StartEd’s global incubator.
The company also stood second at a startup competition that ultimately led to office space at the Qualcomm Institute Innovation Space along with some funding. One of its key supporters and investors has been Mr. Gautam Bali, Founder/MD, Vestige Marketing Private Limited, that has an annual revenue of $250 million. A company he built over the past 14 years without having raised a single dollar of VC money! Mr. Bali has also been honored with the Best CEO Award at the Direct Selling Forum in UAE. Vestige, under his leadership, continues to dominate the Indian market and has recently expanded operations to Nepal and Dubai as well!
Mesh has also been lucky to have passionate Education Studies professors like Dr. Beth Simon to have guided the company through the maze that is Higher Education. Dr. Jace Hargis, NYU-Shanghai’s director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, has been of immense help and has taught everything we know about Andragogy.
That being said, the most gratifying part is positive feedback from the company’s early supporters like Professor Dr. Makeba Jones said, “Using Mesh was a great way to increase participation in my large university classes. It was more successful than encouraging oral discussion. Usually, 6-7 students participate in whole class discussions regularly, whereas over 80 students participated in class discussion through Mesh. It was very successful!” Math professor Dr. Robert Snellman said, “I chose to use Mesh this quarter because of the unique ability it gives students to anonymously ask detailed questions, in real-time, without the stigma of classmate ridicule. When using Mesh, student participation, in class discussions, and overall student understanding dramatically increased. Mesh is a game-changer in the classroom.”
Arnav said change is hard even if it’s for the better. But for any product to have even the slightest impact, behavior has to change. That in some sense is the definition of “Disruption.” It all comes down to humans and how they do what they do. For the company, the biggest challenge has been status quo. Mesh is solving a problem professors didn’t think they ever had, a group of extremely smart people who tend to be technical but not always in a technology-friendly way. Hence Mesh’s biggest challenge is education too!
In some sense, Mesh is doing for HigherEd what Uber did for Transportation and if it can be even 1% successful, the impact would be unparalleled since education, like healthcare, is among the most basic common denominators of our society!
Arnav feels the ImageNet moment for NLP has arrived! Research in the field has been picking up in the past few years and now finally due to the movement of voice-activated devices and interfaces, he is pretty confident that in the next 5 years bulk of our devices would be completely voice activated.
Now combine that with faster and cheaper processing power, on-device computation and decentralized and on-device machine learning and not only the data never leaves the device but the device has the capability to do something extremely useful with it.
“I am very, very excited for how the world would look like in the next 30 years!”
Now add Quantum Machine Learning to our world which would make processing very high dimensional data like audio, financial data, healthcare data much more efficient. Compute power is a big issue right now. And quantum ML algorithms would simply make the underlying linear algebra operations much more efficient, in fact, orders of magnitude faster.
In essence, what Quantum ML would allow us to do is provide exponential performance improvements in a relatively small quantum computer of a few 100 qubits and they should become commercially viable, at least the small ones, in 5-10 years. Startups like D-wave have already made 2000 qubit quantum computers! This whole trend is eerily similar to what happened to the huge wireframe computers, back in the day, to them being in our pocket now.
As a founder, Arnav hopes that his company will do wonders, “I think the use of technology in better engaging and improving the student experience will play a huge role in the next 5 years, with adoption increasing at an exponential pace. I say so because most people who would become Assistant professors (typically around 30 years old), in the next 5 years, were in their late teens around the time of the smartphone boom. Hence, they would be very comfortable with technology and hence tech adoption should increase when such people start teaching at the university. I think Tech adoption in higher education is at the cusp of a new revolution and we have the front row seats!” he added.