Published: 16th January 2021
The future of EdTech: Increased acceptability of online learning is on the cards
Finding and retaining new customers will be another challenge as many providers will be vying for the same sector of the market
Lockdown caused by ongoing Pandemic appears to have provided much needed ‘necessity’ to businesses to ‘invent’ alternate ways for staying in business. IT sector was the first to turn to the Internet and Edtech sector, arguably was a close second. The reasons are not difficult to find. Schools and colleges could not remain shut for prolonged periods affecting livelihoods f lakhs. The academic year for millions of students could not have been allowed to be wasted. A solution was to be found and quickly. The phenomenal reach of the Internet, 696.7 million by end of 2020 expected to become 761.3 million by 2021 (www.statista.com) and availability of a similar number of smartphones with users proved to be the instrument of choice. Freely available Software platforms like Zoom, Webex and Microsoft Meeting proved another boon for Edtech sector.
A number of professionals also took Massive online open Courses (MOOC) in order to upgrade their skills and learn new ones. Those who lost their jobs also enrolled in free or inexpensive courses to acquire marketable skills. It is argued that India would have taken four to five more years to achieve the number of people taking to the Internet for acquiring new skills had the prolonged lockdown not forced it on us.
Going by these numbers and continuing effects of the pandemic, 2021 also is expected to witness a similar trend so far as Edtech sector goes. Many start-ups are also expected to jump in this field as increased acceptability of online learning has made it easy for them to acquire new customers. Although students and professionals will remain the primary customers, new markets, like those wishing to acquire new hobbies, Housewives and retired/ elderly persons wishing to become tech-savvy etc. would be targeted by service providers. The worldwide reach of online classes is expected to increase the demand for inexpensive tutors from India to developed nations like the USA and European nations.
With all these opportunities, there will be some challenges to overcome. First is to keep the costs low while maintaining the quality of content. Second, to keep the learners motivated to finish the course and not burnout midway. Short term courses and pay per use subscription models would have to be designed for this. Finally finding and retaining new customers will be another challenge as many providers will be vying for the same sector of the market. Marketing and product development skills would be tested there.
The author of this article is Abhinav Arora, Co-founder and CMO, Avalon Meta