Not too long ago, education was synonymous with classrooms, desks, blackboards, chalk-boxes and a teacher. Schools and even colleges emphasised rote learning rather than conceptual understanding, and education through online channels was considered a dubious Western phenomenon.
Fast forward to the present—e-learning has become a new go-to approach for both students and professionals in India who are time-starved but enthusiastic to learn and hone their skills.
Today, employers and companies look for more than just basic skillsets in their employees.
While India's e-learning transformation has been a tad bit slow as compared to its Western counterparts, the ever-growing internet penetration and the presence of capable e-learning startups, amongst others, are pushing this growth extensively. Even the central government's efforts to make digital learning available to students in every corner of the country is aiding the sector.
Why online education?
E-learning or online education has a lot of unique advantage, a prominent one being the ease and convenience it offers to people, especially those who are trying to balance work, family, and other obligations with completing a degree or certification program. Another advantage is creating a level-playing field for people living in smaller towns and cities who can get access to best possible learning resources from across the world, in just a click of a button, at affordable prices.
India, being a country with one of the largest education systems in the world, and a network of more than 1 million schools and 18,000 higher education institutions, has a natural advantage of adopting online education platforms.
Talisman for companies
The growing need amongst India's young workforce—who require 21st-century skillsets to survive the dynamics of cut-throat competition—is also pushing the envelope of online education in India.
In today's date and time, employers and companies look for more than just basic skillsets in their employees. The employee might even have to undertake a specialised course or a training program that a company conducts for a particular job responsibility.
Often, appraisals and promotions are awarded on the basis of reskilling; and, there's a surging demand for education owing to the growing job market. This is where online startups like Embibe, Simplilearn, UpGrad and Udacity enter the picture and may be the most viable and economical option, for both professionals and employers.
Online programs... provide opportunities to people who may not otherwise have the time or access to a high-quality education from some of the best colleges and instructors in the world.
These startups and their different courses provide flexible and industry-relevant learning experience for professionals who do not wish to leave their jobs for upgrading their skillsets.
In fact, various companies and universities are doing multiple experiments in this field. Many universities are attempting to launch purely online as well as hybrid courses to satisfy the growing requirements of students from different backgrounds.
While online programs cannot replicate the university experience for students, they provide opportunities to people who may not otherwise have the time or access to a high-quality education from some of the best colleges and instructors in the world. These courses do not replace universities, but rather provide an alternative to higher education.
And India is at a cusp of exploring this opportunity. The country's internet usage has grown drastically over the last few years; today it is the world's third-largest internet population after China and US. According to a report by Business World, there are than 10 million young Indians entering the workforce every year, and the country is estimated to have 750 million smartphones and internet users by 2020.
The numbers clearly show the vast opportunity the country has for e-learning platforms and it is about time that the Indian edu-tech market, which according to the Business World report is pegged at over $100 billion, becomes the largest market for e-learning platforms.