India’s tutorial biz could get disrupted for the better
It has been among the global pioneers in online education globally and is considered by many to be the precursor to today’s Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). What US-based Salman Khan started off in 2006 by offering maths tutorials to his cousins has, over the past nine years, changed the lives of millions of schoolchildren across the globe. The tutorials offered by his Khan Academy have been replicated in over 30 languages. Now, Khan plans to take the big plunge in India by offering content first in Hindi and later in other Indian languages. Khan Academy’s online tutorials could end up disrupting India’s tutorial-based education system over the next few years. The immediate impact will be on e-education. What is important is that it is entering India at a time when the current government is looking to link up 2.5 lakh gram panchayats via the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN). Accessing high-speed broadband deep in rural India could provide a big boost to e-education in the country.
Khan Academy will initially customise around 3,000 maths videos it already has to the needs of Indian students. That will be followed by science. The coming of the Khan Academy also changes the paradigm of the Indian education system where children first learn in the class and then do homework based on that at home. Here children will need to watch videos at their own pace at home and then interact with their peers and teachers in the class. That could be difficult in the initial phases, but could be a driver for innovation in the longer term. The advantage is that Khan has managed to find a fun way to make maths accessible to students. It is believed that already 2 million users watch the videos every month, including around 2.5 lakh from India. The country also offers a huge opportunity for Khan Academy to expand. After all, the demand for high quality maths and science tutorials is huge in the country. The other advantage is that it can be later expanded to cover a wider range of subjects over time. But, for now, it is a start that could see more such entities looking to change the way small town India gets access to quality education. It could also lead to an improvement in the competency level of teachers.