The digitization of education has been a long-pending agenda of the education sector and government.
By Siddhartha Gupta,
When the future arrives too early, you shake hands with it and commence your journey. The ability to sustain the transition comes gradually, as you experiment, fail, succeed, learn and tweak your processes. The digitization of education has been a long-pending agenda of the education sector and government. But egged by the Coronavirus-induced pandemic, the future of education has been fast-tracked to unimaginable levels. The available technology and innovations make the entire end-to-end management and integration of education feasible remotely – from admissions to classes to examinations to results declaration to students’ campus placements.
In the admissions space, new startups like NoPaperForms and School Mint enable universities to take stock of multiple channels from which students apply, engage with them through various activities, arrange for counseling sessions, and admit them for different courses.
A generation ago, students didn’t have platforms like Byju’s, UpGrad, Unacademy, Udemy, and Coursera, to learn abstract concepts. Today, they have the advantage of learning anytime, from wherever they want. They can grasp complex subjects, ranging from coding to biology to mathematics, through three-dimensional models leveraged by digital multimedia platforms and simulators. A bevy of Edutech platforms is meeting this demand for online classroom learning. Interestingly, the revenue for WhiteHat Jr crossed INR 16 crore for FY20!
Meanwhile, the annual revenue rate (ARR) of UpGrad grew to a whopping INR 1200 crore. The current Indian Edutech industry market is pegged at USD 700-800 million and expanding at a CAGR of 8.62%. It is expected to grow to USD 404 billion by 2025 globally.
Besides, due to the accelerated pace of digital transformation, the skills that we teach students today won’t be the skills for which they would be hired. Therefore, our curricula mandate vast innovations, experiments and sweeping changes. Parents, too, are willing to partake in future-readiness and in-demand job skilling of children, leading to the emergence of virtual classes for coding, music, foreign languages, AI, ML, and data science for K-12 education.
In the online examination space, AI-and-ML-powered remote proctoring technologies and examination platforms empower institutions to shift their end-to-end exam processes online. Such platforms are built to track cheating malpractices, such as the use of mobile phones during examinations, the presence of people other than the test-taker in the room, detect various speakers and mark each voice to separate the speakers in the vicinity and record audio and video feeds of the candidates. They can accurately detect up to 98% of cheating instances for 18 kinds of digressions. The examiners can refer to such flags and a system-generated ‘Credibility Score’ while evaluating the feeds.
A host of popular examination platforms offer authentic, credible and cheating-proof examination processes, providing a seamless experience to students and universities. These platforms also eliminate various hassles in giving and taking traditional center-based exams for students and educators alike. Some of them include traveling to the exam venues, booking hundreds of exam centers, storing answer sheets dating back to 8-10 years, and pre-exam jitters that accompany such an exercise. The list is exhaustive! Students from the farthest corners of the country can appear for their exams in tier-1 cities, which lends a level-playing, giving everyone a fair and equitable chance at education and college of their choice.
Coming to virtual student placements, a plethora of solutions on the market assuage the challenges in conducting campus hiring placements at a time when social distancing and coronavirus-mandated interventions are non-negotiable. Online campus hiring solution suites help universities, irrespective of their location, simultaneously conduct virtual campus drives in multiple cities. Colleges can access campus intelligence and management solutions and strategically plan for the skills for which they want to hire.
Such intelligence, built over a few years, could provide companies with data-driven analyses of the best talent and the colleges from which the students come, helping them establish enabling partnerships with universities. Students can be assessed through remote-proctored tests, interviewed using virtual interview tools and engaged through exciting hackathons and ideathons in virtual campus placements. This mechanism also enables students to gain a first-hand perspective of their work, prospective employer and organizational culture. Besides, it lends incredible convenience and competitive advantage to companies that wish to hire the best-fit candidates every year from across the country.
Additionally, the recent global interest in Indian startups needs a special mention. It’s heartening to see the startup culture taking root in India, resulting in an explosion of such entities in the Edutech space. The demand for convenience, rise in non-discretionary incomes, and ever-growing technological advancements make this an exhilarating domain.
Most barriers in the transition to online education are behavioral. However, we all needed this learning trajectory. Students, professors, and education sector decision-makers are steadily molding our perspectives for the better. Though online education will take some time to cover the vast geographical expanse of our country, we are headed in the right direction. The modern-age organizations and tools are effectively meeting the demands and challenges of the current times, streamlining processes and lending accessibility as we usher in a new era of education.
(The author is CEO, Mercer | Mettl. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)