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Growing demand of e-learning in Business Education

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

By Dr. Sarika Lidoria

The exponential growth in the world of business, accelerated further by the expansion in communications and technology, can perhaps only be matched with the fecundity of an evergreen forest. The process that had its inception in the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s has reached its zenith, as businesses become more and more global, spanning across the six continents. Not only do businesses transport themselves all across the globe – in the forms of multinational corporations and worldwide enterprises – but they also bring to the host countries the norms and ethics, procedures and philosophies, methods and techniques that govern the working of global business and trade. As we cannot step into a community club with the rules of our home, likewise today’s enterprises can no longer ply themselves in the world market in the manner acceptable in their own respective milieus.

In the simpler times of business, when its scope was limited to the domestic market, trading and profiteering used to be an automatic event. The local grocers, jewellers, stationers, and other small-scale businessmen that we are used to frequent locally, have not learnt their skills from internationally acclaimed institutions that teach the latest state-of-the-art management and marketing principles and techniques. But when businesses become more and more complex, and comprehend not just multiple countries and continents but the whole world, with people involved ranging from the Japanese in the east to the Americans in the west, creating a veritable potpourri of different cultures, work ethics, market styles and structures, buying behaviors and tastes and preferences, at that level business by instinct ceases to work; for then business becomes a serious subject of systematic and scientific study. The state of international business today makes it imperative for modern upstarting entrepreneurs to know the global business princples, the normative management practices, the technological frameworks and parameters within which markets operate, and crucially the ethical and societal policies that businesses need to follow if they hope to be victors in the arduous battles and struggles for the international marketplace that has come to constitute global trade today.

Business Education has, therefore, become a critical part of any educational diet proffered by the renowned institutions of the world. And in this, India has not stayed behind. Being the global investment destination par excellence, with a booming industrial and service sector, India is set to become the compeer of economies such as USA and China. Studies show that India gives out more MBA degrees globally in a year than any other country in the world except for the United States. As we speak, India has in toto more than 36000 higher educational institutes, making it one of the largest players in the global education industry. A remarkable rise has been studied in the business and management related programs that form part of the curricula of these organizations. A climb from 15% in the 1970s to more than 22% in the 2000s, shows how business learning is fast encroaching on the standard staple of institutional learning in the country.

Even this, though, stands in hardly any comparison to how the online education industry came onto this scene, saw the existing state of affairs, and quite literally became that upward-going steep line that breaks out of the chart! And that too in unprecedented ways. Both the business and educational revolutions have as their springboard the technological revolution. And this is especially the case with the online learning world. Being a replacement and antidote for all the ails of the traditional brick and mortar, body and flesh kind of learning, it has especially impacted the managerial and business classes. Management educators like ITM Group of Institutions have already started breaking new grounds by synthesizing the latest outputs of technology with the latest requirements of business. With the use of high-end animations and graphics for content explanation, web-based learning modules, online portals for query solving, software applications for the administration and evaluation of assignments and tests, institutions such as ITM have surmounted the hurdles of time and space that might constrain the present day five-to-niner from availing the fruits that the current growth in education has produced.

Business education constitutes the main market for the E-learning industry. The E-learning sector, unlike its traditional predecessor, has had a highly targeted approach. Attention to the pragmatic needs of the students, in terms of both the future market viability of their knowledge and the techniques best suited to equip them with the requisite skill-sets, has arguably made online business education the most flexible and practical option. The Online learning industry with the help of podcasts, MOOCs, interactive learning, web-conferencing and so on, has helped develop a pedagogy that not only outdoes it rivals in terms of quality of learning and convenience, but is also on the road to becoming the most interactive, engaging and personal of all learning platforms.

Changes in hardware are always seen hand-in-hand with changes in software. This basic truism holds water in all domains of life. The rise of modern educational tools, ranging from smart devices like tablets, palmtops, and horizontal surface computers to smart boards and virtual reality simulators, has brought profound changes to the ways Management education is conceived. The traditional pedagogical ways of thinking are already giving way to newer and better ones; as the hardware of education is radically transforming, the software is not slow to follow. Where once online education was dominated by the unadorned and plain-vanilla principle of a unilateral teacher-student relation, we now have maximum student interaction, heightened student engagement amongst themselves and with the instructor. Attentive market analysts have already spotted the glowing shimmer that this gradually expanding market is emitting.

Not only do educational organizations, whether they be institutional or App-based, stand to profit from this widening of their market base, but also software developers and producers and sellers of the technological products instrumental in training and developing the managers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Earlier, the target market for higher education consisted of those between the ages of 15 and 25. With the emergence of Business education in E-learning these restrictions no longer operate, because there is never a full-stop to business learning. John Dewey famously said, ‘Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.’ Online business education has transformed that idealistic wisdom saying, to a practical real-life truth. The removal of the age bar is one of the most essential catalysts for the market expansion that this new form of learning medium is experiencing. By 2021 the online industry in India is predicted to be a $1.96 billion market, and it is up to the most technologically advanced, pedagogically updated and enterprising of business ventures to make the most of.   

‘In your hands lies the future of the world’, Robert Kennedy once remarked. What astronomical changes lie potentially hidden in these hands of ours we cannot yet tell. As the cocoon from which some time in the future a butterfly is expected, so is our present state. Just as all the wondrous forms and colours, shapes and beauty of movements of the butterfly is cracked open and brought to the world by the miraculous efforts exerted by the larvae within, so too is our state. With the miracle of technology, with the wonderful improvements in the methods and techniques of education, with greater interactivity and engagement with the minds and hearts of the students, we too from the cocoons of the present are set to enter a beautiful and colourful future.

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