By Ranganath Jagannath, Director, Growth, Agora
COVID has pushed millions of school children, university students and working professionals to the confines of their homes. A survey by LocalCircles showed that 62% of parents are unwilling to send their children to schools even if they re-open shortly. While online learning became an overnight phenomenon, the edtech sector in India and cloud-based real time engagement platforms ensured that learning for the students and upskilling of professionals is not hampered due to the forced lockdown all over the country.
The edtech industry in India has been growing at a steady pace owing to the penetration of internet in the country over a period of time. A TRAI report in January 2020 mentioned that internet subscribers in India stands at 665Mn, which justifies the significant growth the edtech companies were witnessing in a pre-covid scenario. As per a report by SimilarWeb, in the first 28 days of lockdown, the Indian edtech segment saw 128.8 Mn visits as compared to 102.2 Mn average visits between April 2019- Feb 2020.
Real time engagement
Digital education and constructive e-learning are the new buzzwords as students get used to real time learning in the new normal. Schools and higher education institutes have realized the need to invest in real time engagement platforms, that can simulate a real-world classroom experience enabling better collaboration amongst teachers and students.
Real time engagement platforms have the capability to ease the transition to an online education system in a seamless manner. For example, Applejax, an online tutoring platform blends the aspect of conventional day-to-day social human interactions through newer and engaging ways of delivering education continuity. This is made possible with an integrated approach that incorporates live video, a virtual whiteboard, screen share and full-length recordings backed by multilayer security for data protection.
In the post lockdown scenario, India’s leading online higher education provider, upGrad introduced the new upGrad Live platform, which is built to replicate a real-time classroom learning experience for upGrad learners by providing greater interactivity, real-time doubt resolution, in-class concept check and session analytics. These are examples of how education service providers are already using real time engagement platforms to revamp and re-strategize their learning modules in the current scenario.
Technology to make the future of Education Exciting
The question of unequal access to internet will always crop up, when we try to explain how internet has helped students keep the momentum of their learning ongoing, even when schools are closed due to the pandemic. Schools and educational institutions can play their part in mitigating the effects of the disparity in Internet access. However, by using the right technology, schools can overcome poor Internet access and better serve students, who might otherwise not be able to take part in digital school initiatives.
This right type of edtech includes things like mobile hotspots that schools can rent out to families that don’t have adequate access. It also includes technology such as real time engagement platforms that work even in low-bandwidth situations thanks to optimized codecs and other quality of experience innovations developed around variable connectivity. When schools factor in poor Internet access during the design and implementation phases of their e-learning initiatives, including real time engagement, they can prevent unequal access and leverage technologies that compensate for poor connectivity and Internet access and make learning fun and interesting.
Educational institutions can’t solve the problem of unequal bandwidth and Internet access issues. But they can play their role in reducing the effect that this unequal access has on the students they serve. This might not be the last pandemic we are witnessing, but the current scenario of how we have utilized technology, gives us immense hope of tackling similar instances in the future. With India ramping up its internet infrastructure under the flagship Digital India mission, educational institutes can join hands with edtech companies to provide access to topical experts and a multitude of resources that range from videos to online courses.
In future, imagine putting on a pair of AR/VR glasses and getting ready to study History with all your classmates. A subject usually considered boring, can be brought alive and through new technology platforms, transcend the students to the virtual historical world, example the Egyptian Civilisation. Am sure a student would enjoy and recall his chapters and historical events even better, if taught this way. Through interactive means such as virtual gifting, emoticons, and face filters, learning will become more fun and engaging. Technology will help children to retain their attention in an increasingly online age of education. So, it’s only a matter of time that students tell their parents that they wish to study rather than watch the television.
If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]