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2021: A year when edtech took the giant leap

Let’s rewind ourselves and retrospect some of the key trends of 2021 that will continue next year as well

2021: A year when edtech took the giant leap
Top universities across the globe have also democratised the learning process by making courses available online. Adopting tech-based education in both the academic and industry sectors brings the advantage of versatility and flexibility while being cost-effective.

By Mayank Kumar

The rapidly-changing technology environment in tandem with the evolving learning mechanics has fast-tracked the edtech space in the last two years, more than ever before. With physical schools, colleges being shut and education getting affected, online education took the centre-stage and became the essential mode of learning for students as well as working professionals.

The emergence of immersive technologies in online learning provided people with an opportunity to gain new skills. The year saw copious investments in technologies such as gamification, AR, VR, etc, as also the adoption of multiple new-age exam monitoring systems such as the dual-proctoring approach that support a fair grading system.

The rapid shift to digital learning brought to the surface the importance of lifelong learning, and we only see it accelerating as the problem of skill redundancy is everywhere.

Let’s rewind ourselves and retrospect some of the key trends of 2021 that will continue next year as well.

Reskilling and upskilling get more relevant

By 2025, the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that around 85 million people will lose their jobs. Whilst, over the same period, 97 million new jobs will be created, these will require very different skills. Without the ability to reskill people quickly, and at scale, millions will potentially be displaced from work. It will require new technology and a fresh approach to partnerships between the government, industry and academia. This indicates the need for reskilling the global workforce.

In a tech-driven market, upskilling is one of the most important things professionals can do to not only retain their current jobs but also move up in their careers or make meaningful career transitions.

Online learning becomes mainstream

This was the year of change for the edtech sector; the year saw increased acceptance of the value of anytime, anywhere online learning that is accessible across devices. Multiple segments of Indian edtech have emerged as against only K12 which was the case earlier. Higher education, hobby learning, etc, have found quite a few takers.

Top universities across the globe have also democratised the learning process by making courses available online. Adopting tech-based education in both the academic and industry sectors brings the advantage of versatility and flexibility while being cost-effective.

Year of capital flow, leading to consolidation

This year saw an influx of capital into the education sector as well as increased acceptance of all key stakeholders which led to consolidation in the market. This year also saw the largest number of unicorns from our country and some of them are from the edtech space.

Key stakeholders have accepted that collaborations will be vital for online learning companies and educators to maximise value. Given the market depth, the continued capital flow into edtech companies and the focus on building scale, India will soon emerge as a global hub for edtech and education wherein online learning will become a default option in higher education.

Hybrid learning models

In June, the University Grants Commission (UGC) released a Concept Note on the Blended Mode of Teaching and Learning. It highlighted the flexibility it would provide with application to any programme that combines traditional learning values with digital media. Providing freedom and flexibility, blended learning can be effective and likable with the best of both worlds as it moves from classroom to online.

Globally, blended learning is one of the most frequently adopted learning tools as it frees students, academicians and policymakers from the restrictions of the four walls of a classroom. In a vast country like India, blended learning will allow access to the best of educational universities to the smallest of towns and villages, and foster the next generation of learners.

Coaching and mentoring

In online education, other than delivering content virtually, assisting learners with the best professional guidance during their career progression is equally important. Education or edtech is a subset of a larger ecosystem of coaching, guidance and mentoring and some of the players have differentiated themselves by leveraging the human touch delivery engine by building a strong coaching and mentoring layer.

This helps in surpassing geographical barriers and gives learners the best mentors and coaches, from across top universities and large corporates.

The author is MD & co-founder, upGrad

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