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How Education Technology Has Evolved In 2010s

  • EdTech (or Education Technology) industry in India, according to a KPMG report, was worth about $247million and could reach $1.96 billion by 2021.

New Delhi:

When Byju Raveendran set up his company, Think & Learn, in 2011, offering online lessons before launching his main app in 2015, he wouldn’t have imagined that the decade would end with him becoming a billionaire. Mr Byju, who developed an education app (Byju’s app ) that’s grown to a valuation of almost $6 billion in about seven years, joined the rarefied club after his company scored $150 million (roughly Rs. 1,000 crores) in funding in in July this year. That deal, according to Bloomberg, conferred a value of $5.7 billion (roughly Rs. 39,000 crores) on the company in which the founder owns more than 21 percent. 

The business signed up more than 35 million of whom about 2.4 million pay an annual fee of 10,000 to 12,000 rupees, helping it became profitable in the year ending March 2019. 

EdTech (or Education Technology) industry in India, according to a 2016 KPMG report, was worth about $247million and could reach $1.96 billion by 2021.

A survey done by Gradeup indicated that 70% of students would shift to online learning if given access to live online classes. Of these, over 80% cited ‘access to expert faculty’ as the primary reason. 

‘A decade ago, EdTech industry did not even exist’

Beas Dev Ralhan, Co-Founder and CEO, Next Edcuation India, says the industry is engaging latest technologies such as experiential learning tools, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Gamification of Learning which are revolutionising the preparation strategies of students currently and will continue to do so.

Mr Ralhan says the educational landscape of India has been transformed by a series of developments in new-age pedagogies and their popularity is expected to continue in the coming years. 

“Conventional methods of education have mostly lost their appeal among students who are now exploring new strategies to learn and prepare for exams,” he added.  

The increased mobile penetration in the country especially in rural areas was a major breakthrough for the development of this industry.

“A decade ago, EdTech industry did not even exist. Getting accessible, affordable and a quality education for students preparing for competitive exams, especially, in Tier 2,3 cities was a big challenge. This was the opportunity that Ed-tech industry resolved to address. This also coincided with the increased mobile penetration in the country especially in rural areas,” says Shobhit Bhatnagar, CEO and Co-Founder, Gradeup. 

‘Interactive and result-oriented’

Once the issue of accessibility was solved, the startups, which boomed in last one decade, concentrated on the delivery side.

“The preparation had to be effective and result-oriented, for which, EdTech players introduced live online courses from some of India’s best teachers through their platform. Classes are interactive, engaging and allowed students the freedom and privacy to learn at their convenience from the best. With a structured methodology and day-wise study plan,” Mr Bhatnagar details how the industry evolved.

Shweta Sastri, Managing Director, Canadian International School, Bangalore, says the penetration of internet-based smartphones and gadgets is taking quality learning to students across geographies in India.

The teacher connect

According to Ms Sastri, by using the internet or software tools, students can create online groups that connect them in real time with students and teachers. 

“They can receive feedback from their teachers and share questions and concerns about their lessons. Hence teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on,” she adds.

“Technology has become a crucial aspect of enabling learning and empowering teachers with the usage of multiple tools to improve teaching methodology. With the use of technology, learning and teaching not only become more interactive and exciting, but also become personalized to suit the needs of every individual student,” she said.

Classroom experience

The smart boards are gradually replacing the black-boards in the classrooms wherein the teacher can bring the world inside a classroom, which broadens the horizons of teaching and learning, says Niru Agarwal, Trustee, Greenwood High International School.

“Through technology”, Ms Agarwal says “the teacher and students are always connected which enhances their preparation strategies. Media presentations are designed in a student-friendly manner, and which can also be shared easily. Calendar applications help in creating a schedule for the student, thereby making their goals achievable”. 

“Experiential learning tools are being implemented in India in the form of virtual labs and virtual and augmented reality tools. Virtual and augmented reality creates immersive, real-life experiences in the classroom through graphical simulations.  On the other hand, virtual labs help them conduct simulated experiments based on real-world phenomena via a computer interface,” says Mr Ralhan.

The outcome

According to Zishaan Hayath, CEO and Founder, Toppr , efficient use of tech in education has led to a reduction in the need for a human advisor, improving affordability for the student.

“There are about 350 million school-going students in India, one of the largest population in the world. Stronger implementation of AI and ML have helped bring out truly adaptive and personalized platforms addressing real learning needs. The main purpose of these assistive technologies is to provide a more accessible and on-demand experience for students that need immediate assistance with certain issues. Tech tools and software have also allowed to streamline the educational experience, improve accessibility and offer new resources to students,”  he adds.

However, psychologists and educationists are arguing the implementation of large scale technological solutions in school education needs detailed studies on how it’s affecting the cognitive abilities of a student in the era of “digital natives”.

“In the era of ‘digital natives’, the role of technology in teaching cannot be overlooked,” says Muhsina Lubaiba, a psychologist who works among school children. 

“As Prensky says,.. rapid dissemination of digital technology… changed the way students think and process information, making it difficult for them to excel academically using the outdated teaching methods of the day. In other words, children raised in a digital, media-saturated world, require a media-rich learning environment to hold their attention,” she quoted Marc Prensky, the writer of the book ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’.

She also said the quality and efficiency of the educational apps available today is debatable. 

“I’m of the opinion that, even if genuine and expert evaluated apps are used by children, it is by no means a substitute for the classroom teaching. The issue here is that the teachers need to be updated and should find ways to engage these digital natives using technology, but their role cannot be completely neglected,” she said.


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