Karunn Kandoi, General Manager & Head of India Operations, ApplyBoard India

Karunn Kandoi, heads business operations for ApplyBoard- India and serves on its board along with other public limited Ed-tech companies. Karunn holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering and MBA from the University of Washington. Before beginning his stint with ApplyBoard, Karunn was associated with Extramarks Education India Private Limited as the Director- Whole Time & President Global Business. Karunn founded Shree Eduserve and created the largest brand for learning English in India.

Karunn is skilled in creating and expanding businesses, operations management, creating technology-led products and driving growth from them. Throughout his inspiring journey, Karunn has participated in various panels on EdTech organized by the likes of Asian Development Bank, CNBC, News Nation, Education Department of the Govt of Kenya, FICCI-India etc.

 

The pandemic’s occurrence brought about various disruptions across industries. It has given birth to technological advancements and has carved the path for the digital transformation of businesses. What was merely an option has fast become the dire need of the hour. Tech adoption became critical for businesses not just to ensure the continuance of operations but also to have a competitive edge in the market. The education industry is no exception and has swiftly embraced the digital route. To cope with the changing industry norms, adopting new-age solutions has become most important to ensure that the learning process of the students is not compromised. This trend has also pushed the emergence of edtech firms that are making concerted efforts to ensure high-end educational experiences for the learners. 

Edtech firms journey: Being an alternate to the mainstream educational experience

The Indian educational technology ecosystem has a lot of room for innovation. The market is poised for an exponential expansion, with over 4,500 start-ups market size is predicted to be at $30 billion in the next ten years. The edtech platforms have stepped in a blessing in disguise for the educational sector and have revolutionized its entire landscape altogether. 

Until the pre-pandemic times, remote education was viewed as an assistive tool. However, now it is the go-to solution and an ideal method for smooth learning processes. Up until the pandemic hit, the edtech solutions were primarily used for competitive examinations and college entrance preparations along with offline coaching. However, now, high schools have started accepting technology as a primary delivery method. Advanced tech solutions delivered by the edtech firms have enabled K-12 education as well as college-level studies immensely. They have been able to successfully mark their presence extensively in the entire educational landscape.  

Virtual classrooms are engaging, interactive and offer tech-based content in abundance. Edtech firms also offer a plethora of high-end educational content and this further makes online learning productive, intriguing as well as impactful for the students. Eventually, students have the access to personalized, customized, and self-paced learning. This is something that the traditional teaching pedagogy still struggles with. 

The future scenario of online learning and edtech firms

The new norm of remote learning has been gaining prominence and is indeed here to stay for long. The edtech sector strongly supports online learning and is flourishing significantly across all institutional levels. KPMG’s recent reports point out a similar trend and state that the online education market is anticipated to hit $1.96 billion by the end of 2021 from 2016 and will grow at a CAGR of 52%. The primary reasons for this growth would be the affordability and accessibility of virtual learning and edtech platforms. Furthermore, Inc 42 in its recent report states that the edtech market size is estimated to be valued at $10.4 billion by the end of 2025. The study further shares that this growth will majorly be driven by the increased tech adoption along with the rising demand of the consumers. 

It is indeed anticipated that technological adoption will pick up pace in the times ahead. While edtech firms presently use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), their usage will increase in the times to come. Both AI and ML offer many benefits, but ultimately, they help enable access and stronger personalization whether a student is using a web-based learning app or searching for the perfect university to continue their education journey at home or abroad.

This trend will further lead to the personalization at unimaginable levels. Adding to it, immersive technologies such as AR and VR will soon foray into the educational market as well. They will play a growing role in modern classrooms with their virtually simulated content and will furthermore lend a helping hand in upscaling the teaching-learning experiences. 

As we gradually shift from STEM to STEAM-based learning, automation of the educational industry will be another trend that will gain traction in the future. It will majorly help the learners in imbibing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Collaboratively, the technological adoption will upscale the educational scenario and will further lead to the remarkable growth of the edtech platforms in the market. 

However, at first, we must accept that technology is a tool, not a panacea. Second, technology must be used to support the educational concept. It’s risky to provide digital infrastructure without a plan for how it’ll be used or what teaching-learning methods it’ll support. Third, technology cannot take the role of schools or teachers. It’s not a case of “teachers vs technology”; rather, it’s a case of “teachers with technology.” In fact, technology solutions are only useful when teachers embrace them and use them effectively. 

We must also be cognizant of the challenges faced by the Indian school education system. Even before the COVID -19 pandemic, the country was suffering from a severe learning crisis, with one in every two children unable to read at the age of ten. We must also recognize the fact that the pandemic threatens to deepen the problem, particularly because 15.5 lakh schools have been forced to close, affecting over 25 crore students. Not every school, teacher, and students are able to adapt and use online learning effectively. Even for the schools and teachers that have adopted well, many are reporting the serious lack of participation from various students. Another threat of social well-being, mental and physical fitness is yet to be addressed.    

With flagship programs like Digital India and the Ministry of Education’s initiatives, such as the Digital Infrastructure for School Education (DIKSHA), open-source learning platform, and UDISE+ — one of the largest education management information systems in the world, India seems to be well-positioned, however, it’s too early to comment on the effectiveness of these initiatives yet.  

Edtech firms help in extending high-end educational experiences to the students. They also foster the holistic development of the learners via their engaging, high-quality, and tech-enabled curriculum. The Indian edtech scenario and the education sector, on the whole, are ever-evolving in order to cope with the external changes and to cater to the demands of the consumers. 

Technology is supporting the edtech firms as well is offering personalized, flexible, and scalable learning experiences to the students. Digital adoption has rendered a helping hand in transforming the edtech journey wherein they are now used as mainstream tools for education. They are no longer an alternative learning process and have rather emerged to be the go-to solution for offering high-end educational experiences.

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