Posted in Entrepreneurship & Startups Articles, Total Reads: 594
When I was a kid I used to spend nearly 6 hours in school, then 1.5 hours in coaching, then 2 hours studying at home and the rest of my time was spent in traveling to these locations. Well, this is the kind of routine most of the kids have to follow in India. Reason? Competition. We have the largest school-going population in the world. And limited number of educational resources. As much as we have been successful in achieving this population growth, our development in education sector has not been very great. In India both public and private sector participate in providing education, the ratio of public schools to private schools being 7:5. This huge participation from public sector shows how much profitable business education has become.
After thinking a while we realise that our education sector has a lot of serious problems. Firstly, the educational capacity is not increasing with the same pace as population, our demographic dividend of 356 million people (aged 10-24) can easily turn into demographic disaster. The total number of private and public models combined cannot cater to the education needs of so many people. That is another reason why only one out of five students can go for post-secondary education in India.
Secondly, the system is evolving at a very slow pace, it hasn’t changed for last 50 years. We follow the 10+2+3 pedagogy of teaching in traditional brick and mortar classrooms. Here equality of education is solely dependent on teachers, with a limited homogenisation of service by the use of standard textbooks. Assuming that the students are still willing to learn that way. This generation is smarter and faster, our education imparting system needs to become smarter and faster too.
Looking back at this, I feel that there is a huge scope of improvement in how we study. It would have been so much better if the time I spent in classroom was more productive and the time to commute was minimised. This should not be very difficult to achieve. Other service sectors have seen disruptive changes by utilizing technological advancements. Retail sector moved to online, entertainment sector moved online, even banking is now online, then why we are still stuck with the old methods of teaching? Why can’t education become more efficient and increase its reach by using technology?
Like every sector, education needs disruption, it requires more entrepreneurs or to say “edupreneurs” who can bring this disruption. Few edupreneurs have already started to emerge, and they are getting a good response from the market. It started with posting educational tutorials on YouTube, which when became famous transformed into full-fledged classroom channels like Crash Course Academy. Other companies like Meritnation, Khan Academy, Byju’s Classes are utilising the online space for teaching purposes. And these endeavours are welcomed by student community, the response is great.
The reasons for their vast popularity is they can reach even to the remote places, they have best faculty available anytime, and same quality is ensured everywhere. These apps provide individual insights for every student. Digital education is interactive, it involves sound and visuals which grabs attention and makes concepts easy to grasp. The students can get results of any quiz or tasks instantly, hence they can analyse the areas which need attention more effectively. In classrooms, many a time student hesitates to ask a question, but with digital education, students can pause, go back and relearn the concept as many times as they like. There is nothing like missed classes in digital space and student can learn whenever they are ready, at their own preferred pace.
The present digital education platforms are majorly of three kinds:
• Video Based Courses: The student goes through a video playlist on a particular topic where the trainer explains concepts with use of various tools as best they can. Student can post their doubts in the comments where they can be answered either by the tutors or other co-learners.
• Online Certification Courses: Services like Coursera which provide certification to students on completing a course. These have gained popularity for providing an edge over others from the place of convenience.
• Gamification: This is an old concept, using game like techniques for the purpose of learning. This makes education fun. Its inclusion in the electronic space is recent. The learning happens in form of game like activities and they are then awarded points based on their performance. This provides motivation to clear more rounds and makes the learning process more involving.
However, for the existing educational institutes, it is very costly to upgrade to digital medium. It requires huge investments to digitise their education, that is why the institutes which offer digital form of learning are very expensive. There are few coaching institutes who are cashing on both the digital and traditional mode to impart education. They provide service packages and the student may opt for online or offline service as per their convenience.
Even when the digital field has a lot to offer for learners, there are many challenges which it faces. Particularly in Indian context. One of the problem is lag in of digital literacy and infrastructure development. Online mode of learning requires working internet connection, penetration of which is still very limited in India. To have digital education you need proper infrastructure and affordable data services. As much as 85% of the Indian population cannot speak and write English, creation of services in local language will help deeper penetration of these services. Other demerit of digital education is also its greatest strength, no fixed schedule. In traditional classroom training people have to stick to schedule and learn discipline, which is not the case in digital scenario. This may lead to poor study habits and promote a lazy attitude in children. Students may become too much dependent on internet and might not put the necessary level of effort which needs to be there, and this reduced effort will certainly reduce creativity. There is also a concern for security, if the kid is going online for education, he/she may not be necessarily looking at the educational contents. The vast amount of uncensored contents on the internet can damage a child’s impressionable mind, as a parent it is a very tough task of protecting the children from such contents. Thus emerges a need for trainer to be there who can guide the learning process.
The Traditional system of teachers can’t be replaced, not completely at least. But ignoring the benefits brought forth by technology is also not a good strategy. I believe that as more and people start working in this are with entrepreneurial mind-set, more and more disruption will occur. The invisible hand of demand and supply will automatically create the best mix of online and offline. It will be interesting to see what the amalgamation of both will produce.
This article is authored by Nitish Tripathi from IIM Kashipur
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