Author: Aditya Malik, CEO and MD of Talentedge
Technology as it does to everything it touches, has brought about a paradigm shift in the way education and learning is imparted and consumed. Starting with plain vanilla distance learning & elearning solutions and then growing into learning facilitated by cloud, social media and interactive virtual classrooms, technology has come a long way in transforming the education ecosystem. The rise of the tech industry in India is adding a new dimension to the country’s edu-tech startup landscape and has been attracting investors from abroad to pour billions in its growth. Leveraging this opportunity, the edu-tech startup space has also witnessed a boost. Be it providing e-tutorials, reforming teaching in schools, corporate sector or some informal education section, the tech startups are bringing about a transformation. At present, no less than 22 startups have emerged in the edu-tech space, according to Tracxn, a market research firm that collates information on Indian startups. This breed of homegrown companies, have been on the radar of venture capitalists from India and aboard alike and attracted significant investment in the recent times.
Technology is becoming the backbone of education modernization in India. It is improving the quality of education, making it more accessible and inclusive. Education is a lucrative space to build the next startup wave and these technology enabled models of education are selling because many students are disappointed with the traditional models that existed unchanged through the years. Change is imperative, as it is the only constant aspect of this world.
Life of students and educators is easier today thanks to this tech revolution. Since the traditional system is still riddled with the shortcomings of classroom teaching – lopsided student-teacher ratio and interaction, lack of flexibility, high costs and issues of scalability – digitisation of education is clearly the way forward. To add to this, the government’s Rs. 1.13 trillion digital India initiative is just what was needed to take the benefits a notch higher. With all these developments, and their combined effects, the edu-tech industry is being touted as the next big thing to happen to the education sector. In fact, Ken Research Group report, India’s e-Learning Market Outlook to FY2018 – Increasing Technology Adoption to Drive Future Growth estimates that the online education market is likely to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.4% between FY2013 and FY2018.
Digital learning has been of great help for students in tier 2 and 3 cities who till a few years back were constantly struggling to get access to well-known academic institutions. With smartphones and the ever-increasing internet penetration, and its speed; with the advent of 3G and 4G, edu-tech growth story has been leaping from strength to strength. Students, no matter what their age, temperament or life situation, are able to learn, discuss, grasp and relate in almost the same way as they would have in a real-time classroom, thanks to live interactivity and recorded videos that have literally made their way on to their phones, laptops and tablets. On the other hand, edu-tech also empowers teaching professionals to upgrade their own skills as they go about imparting knowledge. It also helps them to disseminate updated study material to millions, without any extra cost, in turn scoring above course textbooks that remain frozen (in terms of content) in time.
Challenges coming their way
In this fast-growing industry, there are many opportunities awaiting the edu-tech startups space, but getting started isn’t all that easy. There is a chasm in the perspectives of the multiple stakeholders of edu-tech in defining the problems and identifying the solutions that will improve education outcomes in the best way possible. The end users of edu-tech products are students and teachers, but the purchasers are school administrators and they are the decision makers. This makes it difficult for the edu-tech entrepreneurs to proactively create awareness regarding the digital learning culture across the nation and proactively create a sustainable revenue model. Generating multiple avenues for learners to adapt to technology and its usage and building a digital ecosystem that is scalable, low-cost and reusable are the other critical hurdles that slow down the pace of growth in this space. The list of challenges doesn’t end here.
Solutions to steer through
To topple the challenges in the education technology space, we need a combination of passionate new ideas, voices and innovative implementers. Therefore, before jumping headfirst into this space, try to understand some unique market conditions that are shaping up this burgeoning sector. Online courses may not be revolutionizing college education, but they can prove valuable in surprising ways. MOOCs and interactive learning platforms are a great way to advance or start a career. Many employers view reputed online certificates as legitimate ways for employees to advance their skills. Moreover, its self-paced, customized learning feature is something that everyone can benefit from seamlessly.
Opportunities that await the thriving edu-tech industry
India’s online education market size is expected to touch US$ 40 billion by 2017. There is no denying that edu-tech has immense scope, scale and flexibility, but to be able to max out its benefits, a startup needs to be ahead of its competition and upgrade its technological know-how proactively time and again. Even in this sphere, edu-tech companies who have a team to tap into data analytics have a bright future.
If we come to talk about the role which innovative technology facilitated learning pedagogy plays in bringing out the best from the students, we are guaranteed to witness towering implications. Of late, data analytics and discovery engines are making inroads in improving the education ecosystem.
Society invests significantly in primary, secondary, and higher education. Unfortunately, we don’t really know how our inputs influence or produce outputs. For educational reform measures to be useful and effective it should be based on proper assessments of academic performance of students. Data analytics is designed to address this objective. Even a simple analysis of existing institutional data could raise the profile of potential at-risk students or reveal attendance or assignment submission patterns that indicate the need for additional support but this is something which has been traditionally ignored. Teachers on the other hand can obtain real time feedback on what worked with the students and what did not. We at Talentedge are dedicated to providing learning solutions that produce tangible impact on career progression and bring job effectiveness. Our motto of being part of this dynamic industry is to change the way India learns and empower a ‘Now you can’ attitude at any stage of their lives.
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