Piyush Bhartiya is the Co-Founder and CEO of AdmitKard Edtech that simplifies application process for higher education opportunities. He takes care of the overall growth strategy at the brand and also manages the operations. He ensures that the brand is firmly marching towards the larger aim of providing quality guidance to the students and helping them achieve their career goals.
The concept of online education in India dates back to 2004-05 when efforts were being made by some government organisations such as ISROU, MHRD and IGNOU to start two-way video communication, but the efforts did not yield the expected results due to the insufficient technological advancements. At the same time, the Indian EdTech journey also started with the evolution of smart classrooms and satellite-based education, though the concept was not attracting many people. Gradually, with the passage of time and the advent of technology, India saw substantial growth in the field of online education. Last year, the pandemic acted as a catalyst in the development of online education. Today, e-learning is the need of the hour and has become more than a choice. The last decade has witnessed tremendous growth in online learning, and technology and Covid-19 are two major factors behind its growth and development. Now the questions arise regarding the scope, challenges and future of online education in India. So, let us do the needful discussion below.
Early years of online education in India
Around 15 years back, it was a big challenge to develop a proper mode of imparting online education. In 2008, the education industry witnessed the entry of some private players in the domain of e-learning. Till now, the technology of smart classrooms was being used in some educational institutes. Even after that, people were not showing much inclination towards the concept of e-learning because it was difficult to initiate substituting traditional face-to-face learning with online education. It was only in 2015 when the country saw the emergence of various EdTech platforms, and that year proved to be game-changing for the EdTech Industry. Till this time, many people had realised that online education could be the biggest and best innovation in the domain of education. With the Covid-19 pandemic, Online education took a new turn in India and the game changed completely.
Emerging scope of online education in India
In the last five years, online learning has grown rapidly. Before the arrival of Covid-19, students were using online education to enhance their skills by opting for online certification courses. Moreover, they were using EdTech platforms to deepen their subjects’ concepts. According to reports, the number of students pursuing online education increased six-fold between 2015 and 2018. Around 70% of these students opted for online education to upskill and increase their employment opportunities. Moreover, even the working employees were turning to online education as it was possible to enhance the skills without punctuating the work schedules. In 2018, University Grants Commission (UGC) began supporting online education models. They allowed some reputed and qualified institutes to offer a small percentage of their courses online. Over time in 2019, this support actively increased. This backing ultimately helped in ensuring the quality of online programs hosted by those institutes and reducing the scepticism regarding their effectiveness.
But with the covid induced lockdown and persistent closure of educational institutions, the country testified to a boom in online education. Online learning healed the wound which pandemic gave to educational institutes. For maintaining the smooth flow of education while social distancing and making people realise the importance of online learning in this pandemic era, the government and institutions are massively supporting the online mode of education. Talking about the perspective of students and their families, even they are considering online education as the most viable substitute to traditional learning concerning various aspects.
Online education is the best form of delivering education because it gives one the attribute of flexibility in learning. Both teachers and students can teach and learn at their own pace respectively. As a result, it helps students to build a good work-study balance. Apart from flexibility, e-learning is easily accessible because online learning gives students the facility of learning from anywhere. That means there is no need to shuttle between the institute and home. Besides saving up on time, it proves to be cost-efficient too as one can save up on travelling expenses.
India is a congested and densely populated country. Therefore, people here are more vulnerable to catching the infection. Campus learning will not be free from the risk of Covid-19 even if all the students and teachers are vaccinated. Hence, online education in India would be a feasible option, at least for the time being. Therefore, it can be said that the scope of online education is high in India considering the inclination of people towards it and its benefits.
Challenges to online learning
Online education is gaining prominence in the country, but the moment it moves from an option to the only choice in the long term, it starts facing challenges. The biggest and foremost challenge in imparting education through online mode is its reach and the resultant socio-economic divide because only a small portion of the population has access to online education right now. Unaffordability to buy necessary devices, defective power supply, interrupted or weak internet connectivity, and computer illiteracy are some major concerns of the rural people of India. For teachers also, adapting to online teaching is difficult who have spent their entire life teaching traditionally. Teachers may not be good at creating digital content and communicating it effectively online. Moreover, with online education, practical learning is not possible. Even if theoretical aspects are conveyed properly, students still need practical training to understand the true meaning of concepts.
Concluding the future of Online education
Online education is emerging as the future trend of learning in India and has a positive outlook. Online education has successfully created new dimensions in the field of education both within and beyond the curriculum. Unlike other sectors, online education has got an exponential push from the pandemic because every dark cloud has a silver lining. With the growth of e-learning, the withering away of the traditional education system has begun. Just like every sector, online education too is not free from challenges, but with the help of new technology and government initiatives, these challenges can be overcome. According to market research analysis, it has been predicted that the online education market will grow at a CAGR of over 20% by the end of 2021. It is also predicted that the number of users registering for online education may touch 9.6 million users by 2021, which was 1.6 million in 2016. With the lapse of time, digital ways of education will be the new normal. The growth of EdTech platforms in the last two years signifies the value of online education in the eyes of people. If planned and imparted correctly and equally to all students, it has the potential to unlock innumerable opportunities for learners.