The Indian edtech landscape has recently been bombarded with the deluge of online tutorial apps like Byju’s Khan Academy, Extramarks, Toppr, Meritnation etc. Most of these online tutoring apps are start-ups and have come to fore only after 2015. Leading the market share, Byju’s already has a well-known face like Shahrukh Khan rooting as the brand ambassador, bringing more affability and credibility to the brand. To any millennial, all this is very normal but its the generation before them which find this amount of accessibility and ease of learning almost baffling.
More than 50% of the Indian population happens to be under the age of 25 meaning education is the topmost priority sector in the country and with Edtech, the education sector seems to be expanding in leaps and bounds. Since it is the fastest growing sector, development, research, better facilities, accessibility are pressing factors at the moment. Education or learning with the help of technological resources can be called Edtech or Edutech. Like every other sector, the contribution of technology to the education sector is vast.
The competitive exam aspirants, high school students, and CAT are the kind of population who benefit the most from the online coaching due to its cost-effectiveness, personalization, accessibility, and many more benefits. Even the IT professionals that seek to upgrade themselves with some unskilled training and online certification programs are the contributing population for the Edtech.
High school, university, and college going students are stepping out of the traditional classroom method of learning and willing to benefit from the online tutorials and coaching classes since they feel the online classes to be more helpful than the traditional methods. More and more educational institutions are considering the online certification programs compared to the traditional courses.
STEM education has been most successful with the help of Edtech. K12 students category, IT professionals looking for language and skilled online training/learning programs, unskilled online certification programs are all on demand. Clearly online tutorials and coaching centers are the preferences of students today but the online courses for arts and commerce, and languages seem to be scarce and that is causing a bit of an imbalance since the online coaching at the moment is not covering the entire gamut of education. Edtech is no doubt the future of learning. However, there are some challenges that need to be dealt with to make it the most successful.
Cost-effectiveness: Online material for some subjects/ courses are available freely online and joining the online tutorials or classes may cost more. Students prefer to download the freely available online course materials rather than pay a higher cost for the enrollment to the online classes. Pricing of these online tutorials needs to be made based on all the other factors so that the students can afford to join them and not the other way round.
Accessibility: The demand for Edtech is increasing in Tier II and Tier III cities recently. However, internet/ broadband is still unavailable at most of the villages and students from these backgrounds are not able to enjoy the benefits of online courses and programs. Lack of digital infrastructure in the remote villages are one of the main reasons.
Funding/Affordability: While students/ educational institutions in the Tier I cities have the funds and facilities required for e-learning, the same cannot be said for various other locations. The digital India movement of the Government has definitely made a significant change in the Edtech industry, but there is a lot more of development that is yet to take place.
Credibility: The number of e-learning providers like Byju’s and Khan Academy are multiplying by the minute but most of them lack the credibility and standardization except a few. While some of the biggies take time to design the curriculum and hire experts to design an excellent package, not same can be said about the others in the industry. The course material in some cases are not of a great standard and the same kind of courses are provided by many institutes online and the credibility process for the same is yet to take place and hence leads to a lot of chaos and confusion among the students.
Resistance to change: Major chunk of both the education providers and students have moved on to the modern methods of e-learning. However, there is still a lot of skepticism that exists from the faculties and some parents too. A lot of teachers are not able to accept the fact that a well- designed curriculum can actually provide the same tutoring to the students, and a lot of students are still finding it difficult to believe that they could actually learn from the online classes and pay for it. This mind block is creating resistance.
Funding: There has clearly been a good flow of investment towards the Edtech sector. Even with the Government’s Digital India movement, there is a vast need for funding in order to facilitate e-learning at all Tier cities. Development of the Edtech industry in terms of improved infrastructure, equipment, accessibility to faster and more effective broadband and mobile data across the rural regions of the country definitely calls for major investments which aren’t really happening at the moment.
While there is an infinite number of coaching applications for the STEM, Competitive exams and unskilled coaching, the online classes for various other branches seem to be scant. Specifically, language, arts and commerce subjects seem to not have forayed into the online coaching/ e-learning.
Gaurav Munjal, CEO, and co-founder of the Unacademy seems to agree to the point that while some of the courses are priced very high, the number of students actually buying it would be less and if the ticket size is small then the scale would be large. Striking a balance among the two and scaling accordingly would definitely help to beat the monetization challenges that most of the startups seem to face.
According to the recent reports the Edtech industry received up to $256 Million of funding for over 125 startups between 2014 – 2016 and an approximate of $21.34 Million of disclosed funds have already been invested as per the Q1 reports of 2017.
While the Edtech industry is growing at a faster pace, the same cannot be said about the end user.
Although the Edtech industry is in full boom, India still needs time to adjust to the idea of e-learning and step out of looking at learning, the traditional classroom way. The Edtech ventures are working at a high speed, but the stakeholders involved may not really be ready for changes at that pace.
As per a recent report by Google and KPMG, the Edtech industry is expected to grow up to 8 times and expected to become a whopping $1.96 billion industry by 2021. The competitive exam preparation, skilled and unskilled online course certification, language and casual learning, primary and secondary supplemental education, and higher education are all some of the categories that have great potential to expand into Edutech.
With the recent updates and developments in the field of Edtech, India is clearly moving towards the modern methods of learning. But the lack of accessibility to the internet in the tier III cities is definitely curtailing the benefits for students from the rural areas. Resistance from parents, students, and teachers need to be changed to increase the enrollment into online courses. India needs to improve its digital infrastructure, for the Edtech industry to grow at a faster pace. There is a need for fund flow/ investment to expand e-learning to different categories. An influx of funds, good infrastructure, and a more open mindset towards the modern ways of learning would all definitely make India the hub of e-learning.