As schools operated mostly online this past year, many teachers struggled to use digital tools to keep their students engaged. Conversely, many students have quickly adjusted to Zoom classrooms, hangouts and preparing compelling presentations online. A number of online learning solutions are now filling the gap that many educational institutions weren’t equipped to do. Parents, teachers and students are realizing that many learning problem areas can be tackled with digital learning tools.
The Ed-tech sector has been growing steadily over the past five years. The COVID19 pandemic has only accelerated the growth of these platforms. With mixed results of online schooling, the opportunity that Ed-tech platforms present seems exciting: Seamless access to high-quality content and engaging new formats that can help learners retain, practice and apply what they learn.
In India, the education technology space is on top of the priority list for funding, only next to financial technology and financial services. A report by Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (IVCA) said that Indian Edtech startups saw an investment of over $ 2.2 billion just in the year 2020.
The courses that are on offer on these platforms are wide ranging – from K12 education (Kindergarten through secondary graduation) to test preparation for competitive exams like IIT-JEE, UPSC, NEET. Some platforms also tackle skills that equip fresh graduates to become job ready. Ankush Singla, Co-Founder, Coding Ninjas, noted that some of the most in-demand skills include: coding, database management, social media analytics and expense tracking.
What enabled the shift to Ed Tech?
“While initially parents and the academic fraternity were apprehensive about this mode of learning/ teaching, with students benefiting from the online medium, there’s a massive mindset shift,” said Pravin Prakash, Chief People Officer, BYJU’S
Digital learning tools are supplementing school education as students have the time and ability to review their study material and practice when convenient.
“Students can learn as per their speed, style and size of learning. Studying online not only encourages students to initiate learning on their own but also transforms them into active and lifelong learners.” Pravin said. “Online learning has not just changed parents' mindset, but also aided in creating a productive generation. It is this blended model of learning which will prepare children for the unseen jobs of tomorrow,” he adds.
Schools are also leveraging Ed-tech platforms to aid their own learning curriculum. With wide ranging access to content, teachers gain access to resources they need to make learning impactful.One of the earliest Ed-tech platforms like Khan Academy makes such resources available to teachers for free.
Jobs and opportunities - for whom?
The boom in Ed-tech platforms has led to rampant hiring. BJYU’S is set to hire around 8,000 people across business, content and product development over the next twelve months. Recently, uFaber, an Ed-tech venture that is focused on offering hyper-personalized learning solutions for users ranging from age seven upto adults, announced it would be hiring 1,000 professionals in the next six months on a work-from-home basis. Vendantu, another EdTech company announced that it will hire 2,500 professionals between April and June in 2021, to support multiple functions including business, marketing, technology etc.
The boom in these platforms has also raised the stakes for teachers on these platforms. And they come from a variety of backgrounds – right from engineers, b-school graduates, and former teachers.
Speaking about BYJU’s criteria for hiring teachers, Pravin notes, “We handpick our teachers on how passionate they are about the subject and if they will be able to deliver the content well in an engaging manner. Additionally, we assess how well they can integrate tech aids into the way they teach.”
As the role of the teacher moved from merely delivering content to focusing more time on mentoring students, these platforms give teachers the tools to focus on the student. Also, the Ed-tech space presents a compelling value proposition for teachers – as the best teachers have the potential to reach students all over the country, and possibly the world, depending on the educational content they’re offering.
Untapped future growth
With internet penetration rising and a young demography in India, the growth of Ed-tech platforms is set to rise. “The industry has the potential to bridge gaps in the untapped market providing access to quality education and democratize education in India, giving a promising outlook for the future, backed by digitization, user growth, and increased funding,” Pravin noted.
While education experts point out that traditional classrooms will continue to foster an unparalleled peer learning environment apart from the ability to develop creativity, social and communication skills, online education is going to be a critical bridge to enable students to break the rote learning methods that plague the system. And in doing so, it will create more opportunities along the way.