Digital education solutions and the edtech boom is transforming the way Indians gain knowledge and experience – the answers lie in tech and online.
As Covid cases show a renewed surge in India and uncertainty lingers over whether board-level exams for CBSE, ICSE and other certifications will go ahead in the weeks to come, the future of digital education in the country has emerged not only as a stable certainty but also as an industry with astounding long-term prospects.
While the Indian government made concerted efforts to encourage online education in all forms even before the pandemic - such as by allowing universities to offer fully online degrees - the post-lockdown era of education has rapidly transformed the industry landscape as well as the experience of all stakeholders connected with the education sector.
The rise of ed-tech startups in India has coincided with the evaluation that the digital education market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 33.28 per cent between 2020-26, thereby fuelling a further surge in investments and acquisitions.
In the past year or so, digital education solutions have gained worldwide popularity owing to benefits like flipped classrooms, in which online activities are directed to discuss outside practical scenarios for thorough analysis and face-to-face interaction. The platform engages with the student to enable the usage of technologically advanced educational solutions like blended and personalized learning, with major factors driving the growth of digital education market size being:
Improved internet penetration and digital infrastructure around the country
Reduced infrastructure cost and improved scalability using online learning
Rising demand for bespoke education and microlearning
Indeed, one of the main factors driving the digital education market in India is the rapid adoption of internet-enabled devices. The demand for digital education content is being fueled by factors such as increasing mobile device penetration and increased demand for personalized learning. Also driving the preference for digital education is the boom in affordable mobile cellular subscriptions, which enable students to access digital content on their smartphones and tablets whenever they want.
The demand has fuelled the success of edtech unicorns such as the $13 billion-behemoth Byju's - which earlier this week announced plans to expand to international markets in May as it looks to accelerate its growth.
The Bangalore-based startup, which acquired 33-year-old tutor company Aakash Institute for nearly $1 billion last week, plans to launch in the US, UK, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico next month and explore other geographies later this year. The startup’s international business, to be called Byju’s Future School, is being led by Karan Bajaj, the founder of coding platform WhiteHat Jr., which Byju’s acquired for $300 million last year.
"We believe that through technology, we can inspire kids all over the world to fall in love with learning. Our global expansion comes at a critical time as families are actively looking for supplemental learning that encourages their children to be creative and learn by doing,” said Byju Raveendran, founder and chief executive of Byju’s, in a statement. “This launch furthers our vision of creating active learners across the world.”
With digital learning tools revolutionizing the traditional chalk-black board system of learning in classrooms, classrooms in rural areas too are increasingly using digital tools such as smartphones, and videos to enhance the learning experience.
"The key priorities for higher educational institutions are to make the students industry-ready by assessing their competencies and aligning them to what is needed by the industry. This can be achieved by bringing research and innovation into the core of education and making it affordable for everyone across the nation. It is therefore time to bid adieu to the traditional and monotonous rote-learning methods, which stress on memorisation rather than proper understanding of the subject," said Siddhartha Gupta, the CEO of Mercer.
"Educational institutions and bodies like AIMA, IIMs, ISB, Ashoka University, Amity University, and Christ University have already taken their examination process online. With these initiatives, education is likely to witness a sea change in the forthcoming years as the Indian government is leaving no stone unturned to rapidly evolve with the most sophisticated educational technologies and raring to transform the digital landscape of the nation. And with social distancing still in place amidst the pandemic, an increasing number of educational institutions continue to move fully online to facilitate students. This indicates that e-learning is the future and will shape the way for advanced learning methods in edtech," he wrote in BusinessLine.
With the infrastructure, investment and acceptance in place for online learning, India is thus favourably placed to reap the benefits of digitalization of education that will fundamentally transform how the country learns.