Can edu-tech start-ups support the sector?

Updated: November 2, 2015 11:57:39 AM

The Indian education ecosystem is one of the largest in the world. Our country has over 1.4 million schools and 35,000-plus higher education institutes.

edu tech startups in indiaA number of edu-tech starts-up are pushing the boundaries of the education sector by successfully transforming the teaching and learning ecosystem in sync with modern day trends and behaviour.

The Indian education ecosystem is one of the largest in the world. Our country has over 1.4 million schools and 35,000-plus higher education institutes. Despite such a large size and an equally big potential, our education system continues to struggle—one of the reasons is limited use of technology. Addressing some of the common loopholes in the current education system—flexibility, affordability, scalability, skewed student-teacher ratio—digital learning is emerging as the way forward. Edu-tech start-ups are adding a new dimension to the sector by allowing users access to academic material and in depth analysis across geographical, economic and social barriers.

Technology, clearly, is revolutionising the education sector by increasing its access and affordability; it is also enhancing the quality of education and the learning ability of students. The extent of internet penetration in India is a key factor in the scheme of things—the country has the third largest number of internet users (190 million), after China and the US. There has been a remarkable growth in the appetite for e-learning among Indian students and it is expected that digital learning platforms will continue to prosper in the years to come. The Ken Research Group report, India’s E-Learning Market Outlook to FY2018-Increasing Technology Adoption to Drive Future Growth, estimates that the online education market is likely to grow at a CAGR of 17.4% over FY13 to FY18.

The biggest beneficiaries are going to be students from tier 2 and tier 3 towns and also from rural areas. With the advent of the digitisation drive, education is no longer limited to the four walls of a classroom. An interactive platform ensures that a student can grasp, share, understand, discuss and practise much in the same way as she would in an actual classroom.

Some studies have found that the level of interactivity between the student and the teacher is 50% higher in a digital setting than in a traditional classroom. Digital education puts no limits on the number of students, their age, current life situation or temperament—the same holds true for teachers as well. Rigid teaching methodologies are gradually becoming a thing of the past. In fact, when the evaluation time comes, teachers can use assessment tools that can fill the gap in the traditional grading system.

While at the moment it is clear that digital education cannot fully replace traditional classroom learning, what is possible is both advantageously complementing each other. According to reports by the UK-India Business Council, India is currently the largest market for e-learning after the US, and the sector is expected to receive a boost from the government’s R1.13 trillion Digital India initiative. Meanwhile, an increasing number of education providers are integrating live interactivity in their e-learning formats.

Technology and education together are a winning proposition—with both piggybacking on each other’s growing popularity. India’s readiness to get on with e-learning has been phenomenal—the growth rate of self-paced e-learning has been a whopping 55%. Video streaming is a common and a highly-effective way of engaging with the students—teachers can put up content on a webpage, complete with tutorial videos, and then can keep a track of what topics the students are reading up, enabling them to give deeper and more valuable feedback to students.

In such a scenario, edu-tech companies that have the power to tap analytics and use data to devise personalised feedback for students can make a big difference. While the aggregation of e-content online and test preparation is something we keep hearing about, the truth is that only a few players are actually using data analytics to help impact learning outcomes. But the good news is that a number of edu-tech starts-up are pushing the boundaries of the education sector by successfully transforming the teaching and learning ecosystem in sync with modern day trends and behaviour.

By Aditi Avasthi

The author is founder & CEO, Embibe.com, a tech start-up focusing on improving student learning outcomes, using personalised data analytics

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