Jerold Chagas Pereira, Executive Director & CEO, mPowerO

Jerold has 20+ years of sustained high performance in operations and business development across electronics, retail, hospitality and real estate sectors and has held leadership positions at large Indian business groups such as Tata, Piramal, DLF and Videocon. Jerold has a Master in Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame and a Bachelor’s Degree in Financial Accountancy from the HR College of Commerce & Economics – University of Mumbai.

Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, new age education tools or “e-learning” platforms were bound to gain wider acceptance because of three reasons. Firstly, the aspiration of Indian youth for better opportunities, secondly, technology becoming native to most parts of our daily lives, and lastly, the democratization of data and smart devices.

According to the World Economic Forum, worldwide there were more than 1.2 billion children affected by school closure during the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has widened the adoption of online learning overnight, and this new ‘habit’ of online learning is here to stay, albeit in a hybrid or ‘blended learning’ format, as and when schools and colleges physically reopen. With this abrupt move away from the study hall in numerous pieces of the globe, some are contemplating whether the selection of web-based learning will keep on enduring post-pandemic, and how such a move would affect the overall education market.

According to a report by RedSeer and Omidyar Network India the coronavirus pandemic has been the biggest turning point for India’s edtech sector. Online education is expected to increase 6.3 times by 2022, creating a $1.7 billion market for Classes 1 to 12. Whilst schools and other educational institutions may look towards e-learning platforms and other digital learning solutions to bring down operating costs, which they might in some instances, the main objective of e-learning platforms or Learning Management Systems (LMS) is to enable an institution to facilitate superior learning outcomes, thereby enhancing its reputation as a leading educational institution in its territory or domain. As an institution’s reputation grows from strength-to-strength, the benefits are many, most importantly to be able to ensure a steady stream of new applicants, thereby leading to steady, if not improved, revenues. 

When it comes to cost-savings, new ed-tech platforms can deliver significant savings to educational institutions on the capital expenditure front. Unlike the erstwhile “digital classrooms”, which required heavy investments into hardware by way of servers, smart-boards, etc, the newer and better ed-tech platforms are cloud-hosted, thereby negating the need of institutions having to invest in expensive hardware. More importantly, these cloud-hosted platforms can be accessed, anytime and anywhere, and do not restrict e-learning to only the physical classroom. In the long tenure, edtech is a worthy investment, with tools having a demonstrated record of expanding understudy commitment, and lessening hard expenses through mechanization, and adaptability.

Similarly, new-age ed-tech platforms are designed keeping in mind mobile-first access as smartphones enable easier mobility – anytime, anywhere – and are more affordable vis-a-vis a laptop or desktop. This has been a standout issue during the lockdown, when most students were accessing online lessons from smartphones, thereby enabling them with continuity in learning. In Fact the ‘India Lockdown Learning’ a report by NSDL, found that 79% of the students use smartphones, 17% of students attend their online classes using laptops and computers and the rest 4% of students attend it through mediums like tablets.

Furthermore, as the newer platforms are subscription-based models, schools can subscribe to the precise number of user licenses for each academic year and do not have to worry about surplus or shortfalls in e-learning hardware or software. In the case of chain schools, with geographically distributed campuses, balancing of surpluses and shortfalls becomes much easier when it comes to cloud-hosted, SaaS-based e-learning solutions. 

New-age ed-tech solutions have also reduced ‘paperwork’, given that two-way communication is possible, with school administration and teachers communicating with students and parents via a single platform with the enhanced ability to personalize messages.

From a teacher’s perspective, in-built features that allow teachers to create, curate, and deliver high-quality digital learning resources as well as administer tests and exams enable education institutions to save on more expensive digital tools that they earlier had to spend on very easily. Additionally, auto-correction of tests and exams, real-time student report cards, AI-generated learning paths, etc have freed up a lot of time for teachers and reduced the need for them to have support staff who would do some of the administrative work.

There are many other benefits that new-age ed-tech platforms can bring to educational institutions, such as a consolidated digital library accessible to all campuses, easy sharing and access to best practices across different campuses, auto-randomization of test papers leveraging AI, self-proctoring during examinations, and more, all of which work toward reducing capital and operational expenses. 

Whilst new-age educational tools most definitely help with cost savings, their main objective remains to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the learning process so that students benefit by way of a higher quality of learning and outcomes than they otherwise would have without access to such superior e-learning platforms.

 

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