The Edu-Tech Revolution: Challenges, Solutions & Opportunities

Aditaya Malik for writes: Technology as it does to everything it touches, has brought about a paradigm shift in the way education and learning is imparted and consumed. Starting with plain vanilla distance learning & e-learning solutions and then growing into learning facilitated by cloud, social media and interactive virtual classrooms, technology has come a long way in transforming the education ecosystem. The rise of the tech industry in India is adding a new dimension to the country’s edu-tech startup landscape and has been attracting investors from abroad to pour billions in its growth. Leveraging this opportunity, the edu-tech startup space has also witnessed a boost. Be it providing e-tutorials, reforming  teaching in schools, corporate sector or some informal education section, the tech startups are bringing about a transformation. At present, no less than 22 startups have emerged in the edu-tech space, according to Tracxn, a market research firm that collates information on Indian startups. This breed of homegrown companies, have been on the radar of venture capitalists from India and aboard alike and attracted significant investment in the recent times.

Technology is becoming the backbone of education modernization in India. It is improving the quality of education, making it more accessible and inclusive. Education is a lucrative space to build the next startup wave and these technology-enabled models of education are selling because many students are disappointed with the traditional models that existed unchanged through the years. Change is imperative, as it is the only constant aspect of this world.

Life of students and educators is easier today thanks to this tech revolution. Since the traditional system is still riddled with the shortcomings of classroom teaching – lopsided student-teacher ratio and interaction, lack of flexibility, high costs and issues of scalability – digitisation of education is clearly the way forward. To add to this, the government’s Rs. 1.13 trillion digital India initiative is just what was needed to take the benefits a notch higher. With all these developments, and their combined effects, the edu-tech industry is being touted as the next big thing to happen to the education sector. In fact, 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 Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 17.4% between FY2013 and FY2018.

Digital learning has been of great help for students in tier 2 and 3 cities who till a few years back were constantly struggling to get access to well-known academic institutions. With smartphones and the ever-increasing internet penetration, and its speed; with the advent of 3G and 4G, edu-tech growth story has been leaping from strength to strength. Students, no matter what their age, temperament or life situation, are able to learn, discuss, grasp and relate in almost the same way as they would have in a real-time classroom, thanks to live interactivity  and recorded videos that have literally made their way  on to their phones, laptops and tablets. On the other hand, edu-tech also empowers teaching professionals to upgrade their own skills as they go about imparting knowledge. It also helps them to disseminate updated study material to millions, without any extra cost, in turn scoring above course textbooks that remain frozen (in terms of content) in time.

Challenges coming their way

In this fast-growing industry, there are many opportunities awaiting the edu-tech startups space, but getting started isn’t all that easy. There is a chasm in the perspectives of the multiple stakeholders of edu-tech in defining the problems and identifying the solutions that will improve education outcomes in the best way possible. The end users of edu-tech products are students and teachers, but the purchasers are school administrators and they are the decision makers. This makes it difficult for the edu-tech entrepreneurs to proactively create awareness regarding the digital learning culture across the nation and proactively create a sustainable revenue model. Generating multiple avenues for learners to adapt to technology and its usage and building a digital ecosystem that is scalable, low-cost and reusable are the other critical hurdles that slow down the pace of growth in this space. The list of challenges doesn’t end here.

Solutions to steer through

To topple the challenges in the education technology space, we need a combination of passionate new ideas, voices and innovative implementers. Therefore, before jumping headfirst into this space, try to understand some unique market conditions that are shaping up this burgeoning sector. Online courses may not be revolutionizing college education, but they can prove valuable in surprising ways. MOOCs and interactive learning platforms are a great way to advance or start a career. Many employers view reputed online certificates as legitimate ways for employees to advance their skills.  Moreover, its self-paced, customized learning feature is something that everyone can benefit from seamlessly.

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