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Predicting Future of Ed tech and Online Education by 2021

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Based on comprehensive market research conducted by KPMG, along with insights from Google search, the two stalwarts have jointly published a report titled “Online Education in India: 2021”. This report predicts that the online education market in India is slated to witness an eight-fold growth over the next five years to touch the USD 1.96 billion mark in 2021. It states that the online primary and secondary supplemental education is “expected to be the dominant category of courses with a 39% market share in 2021.” The numbers and predictions all seem very encouraging to edtech companies.

The report defines online education as “learning modules which can be accessed by individuals through internet-enabled services devices and are restricted to consumer paid services.” The definition is certainly helpful as it underlines the importance of proliferation of internet, coupled with the surge in use of smartphones. According to the report, there are about 290 million smartphone users in India today.

There are a couple of other factors, besides internet proliferation, fuelling the growth. Let’s take a look at those:

  • With no brick-and-mortar schools and other infrastructural costs getting cut down, online education is a cheaper alternative to offline education.
  • There is a stark difference between educational opportunities present in urban and rural India. There are many places in the interior of India which hardly have any quality offline education options available. Quality online education can come to their rescue.
  • Government initiatives like SWAYAM, E-Basta, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) have been driving the adoption of online education.
  • Internet is quickly penetrating every nook and corner of the country. Such growth has been facilitating online education. The report states that by 2021, there would be 735 million internet users.
  • Disposable income of Indians is expected to grow by 55 percent by 2020. Thus, the youth of the country have all the means of fulfilling their high aspirations.

Primary and Secondary Education Scenario
As already mentioned, primary and secondary supplemental education is expected to be the dominant category with a 39% market share in 2021. The report has pointed out key trends in this category:

  • Edtech platforms enable students to meet relevant tutors in online/ offline mode. This model is gaining all the more traction in tier II and tier III cities, where the access to quality resources is limited or non-existent.
  • Many edtech companies are employing the freemium model, which let student’s access course content and its quality before deciding whether to make the purchase. Students know exactly what they are signing up for, and thus, the rate of satisfaction is much higher.
  • Over 50 percent of students look for video content on these platforms. This mode of content could be unavailable in classrooms and this way of learning could be the beginning of breaking away from traditional ways of learning.
  • With big data and artificial intelligence making successful inroads into the education sector, edtech companies are able to customise personalised learning solutions for each student. 

The trends, as predicted by the report, look promising and Indian edtech companies, with the help of technology and innovation, seem to be treading the right path. However, there are a few challenges and improvement areas that could be pondered upon. Discussing those would help us understand the work that lies ahead of us better.

  • Students with a science background constitute 85.7% of those opting for online education. Lesser commerce and arts students are adopting online courses on account of limited availability of content relevant to them. Indian edtech companies are neglecting commerce and arts subjects. We could take these subjects more seriously in the coming years.
  • The report points out those students prefer to use laptops to access large-sized content like videos and assignments and smartphones for shorter content. Therefore, edtech companies should adopt a multi-channel approach for their content.
  • Though the proliferation of the internet has made online courses available to students, awareness about the courses is still low. Students depend on peer review and feedback in selecting one platform over the other. Therefore, edtech companies should streamline a proper review and feedback mechanism to gain goodwill among students.
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