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Global e-learning platforms are seeing usage in India after the lockdown zooming ahead of other markets. (Bloomberg)
Global e-learning platforms are seeing usage in India after the lockdown zooming ahead of other markets. (Bloomberg)

Massive growth in edtech to create fresh opportunities

Stakeholders see plenty of room for growth as they start catering to different income groups

During the covid-19 led nationwide lockdown, edtech companies saw their long-term business goals achieved within six months. Going forward, industry stakeholders see opportunities for more sustainable and mature solutions, as they start catering to different income groups and specialized learning needs, said experts at Mint’s Pivot or Perish webinar on edtech on Thursday.

Venture investment company Omidyar Network India witnessed significant growth in its edtech portfolio firms during covid, even as it had to change its own portfolio management models. Omidyar has investments in the after-school learning space through Vedantu, Doubtnut and WhiteHat Jr.

“We saw our targets for mid-2021 being achieved already. The after-school space was already gaining momentum and has picked up. The big change has been in technology adoption across schools and colleges where significant adoption has happened. That throws up a lot of new opportunities in the B2C and B2B space," said Sarvesh Kanodia, principal, investments, Omidyar Network India.

Within the after-school learning segment, experts see opportunities in courses going beyond academic learning to develop life skills. With the National Education Policy (NEP) outlining the need to focus on extra-curricular development, investors see this demand both from public and private sector. “ There is a lot of money flowing into the education ecosystem, so even B2B demand for such courses will be strong. In addition, we will see traction across professional skilling courses like data analytics and healthcare as well," said Kanodia.

Global e-learning platform Coursera saw India usage zoom ahead of its other markets. Coursera offered over 4,000 courses free for college students to attract over 700,000 users in the past six months. In professional skilling, almost five years’ worth of scale was achieved in the past few months.

“ In the past six months, we have registered over 650% usage growth globally and over 1,400% in India. We went from 5 million Indian users in January to over 8 million at present. Some of the growth also happened because courses were free and people were available at home, but we see companies investing in their employees driven by the free courses and the need for specialized skills," said Raghav Gupta, managing director, India and Asia-Pacific, Coursera.

While Coursera doesn’t expect businesses to continue working from home in the long term, the outlook on learning needs is that it will continue to be online first. In pre-covid times, only about a third of the $400 billion global learning and development market was addressed online, but now they expect it to continue online as employers have also recognized the model’s efficacy.

Bani Paintal Dhawan, head of education, India and South Asia, Google, said the NEP already created the foundation for Indian curriculum to follow countries like Japan, Indonesia and Singapore in prioritizing project-based learning models.

“ Due to the pandemic, we have also seen a lot of government-level discussions being accelerated in terms of providing internet connectivity and skilling teachers," said Dhawan. She added that skills like computational thinking, project-based hands-on learning and coding are becoming a reality which will, in turn, create demand for innovative learning platforms, content and teacher training solutions.

Anushika Jain, founder and CEO, GlobalShala said covid has given a strong push to their model because now everyone knows how virtual learning works." Our educator training workshops that were planned for the end of the year are already being rolled out. Most institutes were not ready to go online overnight and we were able to address those gaps," she said.

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