Published: 13th October 2020
Students are spending 50 per cent more time online due to COVID pandemic, finds NASSCOM report
Rise in time spent online has been observed not just among school students. As per a recent Linkedin survey, almost 63 per cent of professionals have increased their time spent on online learning
School students are spending 50 per cent more time online than they would have before COVID-19 hit, said a recent report by the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM). The sudden boom of EdTech firms has also encouraged other corporates and start-ups to expand into the education sector as well. But the issue of low internet penetration remains among the major issues, mentions the report.
There has been a 50 per cent rise in the engagement level of students during the lockdown period, stated the study. "As per BARC India and Nielsen report, there has been a 30 per cent increase in time spent on education apps which actually lead to over 120 per cent growth in digital ad spends by EdTech apps. A total of 88 per cent rise in a number of people downloading EdTech apps has also been recorded. Rise in time spent online has been observed not just among school students. As per a recent Linkedin survey, almost 63 per cent of the professionals in India have increased their time spent on online learning to enhance their skills or reskill themselves to stay relevant," it added.
During the lockdown, many start-ups pivoted to other businesses or are planning to, said the report. "As per a recent NASSCOM Start-up Pulse Survey Q1 2020, 54 per cent start-ups were seeking opportunities to pivot. EdTech is one of the key sectors that start-ups are looking to expand to either by building new solutions to cater to the huge requirement or by partnering with other stakeholders to provide services," the study titled Re-imagining Edtech – The COVID Effect, added.
But the issue India has faced since the beginning of the lockdown is the low penetration of internet connectivity and errant electricity across not just remote areas but even tier 2 and 3 cities. The teachers and schools have also not been very adept in handling even basic tech. But things are changing, said Dr Anju Tandon, Principal of the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan School in New Delhi. "Over the past few months, teachers and parents have adopted newer technologies and have developed a level of comfort with the new normal. Education is not confined to the text anymore, it is more about its application in reality. As digital learning takes over, teachers will face an uphill task of learning new software skills, adapting to new technologies and picking out what is best suited for their students," she said at the panel discussion that followed the publication of the report. Shashi Banerjee, Principal, Shiv Nadar School, Meenakshi Sahni, Principal, Modern School and Harish Agrawal, Senior Vice-President, Magic EdTech were also part of the panel that discussed the effect of COVID on EdTech and education in general.
But along with the teachers learning new skills and the schools adopting tech-based solutions, the government and the tech firms could also help find better solutions, said Meenakshi Sahni. "We are grappling with problems we know very little about. For example, we have started to find out a few things currently, such as how much bandwidth we need for the school, how many individuals it caters to, etc. We believe it would be very useful if this was taken up on a war footing, not just for the benefit of schools, but because we need education in every corner of the country. It is also important to innovate devices at an affordable price to make digital learning more accessible and affordable," she added.
The report mentioned that despite coming up with advanced tech solutions for online learning, EdTech start-ups still aren’t quite reaching their full potential because of the vast digital and socio-economic divide prevalent in India. "Democratising online education is an absolute necessity to bridge this gap and to penetrate the interiors of the country. There is also a dearth of educational tools and content in vernacular languages. The EdTech sector must work towards creating tools, services and content that are easily accessible and affordable to a larger audience. In India, with smartphones being more accessible, using a mobile-first approach while developing tools and solutions, at the same time creating vernacular content will become a key differentiator for growth and acceptance," it added.