Why the 100 Cr budget allocation on Virtual Classroom and Online Courses makes sense

VclasroomRecently, the Modi Government committed Rs. 100 Crores (~ $17 million) for Virtual Classroom and MOOCs.  Having worked as an Analyst with an Education-focused PE fund, the move was not a surprise to me and my colleagues in the industry. In the last 3-4 years, we have closely observed the Online Education segment (especially – MOOCs- Massive Online Open Course) and seen it burgeoning in the western world. The concept may be at a nascent stage in our country, but it is more than established in the United States. This is due to its inherent features like flexibility, feasibility and cost- effectiveness for the students. I feel these very features make a stronger case for the success of Virtual Classroom and MOOCs in India.

Early Entrants

Developed countries have seen few start-ups in this space. Organizations like Udemy, Udacity, edX, Code School have helped further enhance the concept underlying online education by connecting with almost every global Ivy League institution. Coursera, another US based portal, offers over 300 courses from 20 categories that include medicine, engineering, mathematics and humanities formed by 62 varsities belonging to 16 countries.

Why MOOCs have become popular in the US

Besides offering benefits such as reduced tuition fee, easy accessibility and improved technology, online courses also offers an alternative to study at one’s own pace whenever he/she is motivated, thus raising the impact as compared to a traditional classroom. Telephonic support and online chat services, networking forums and other communication platforms are also provided by educators online to augment the level of learning. Online course helps working professionals to up-skill themselves without ceasing their jobs by keeping them abreast and updated with the latest advancements of their respective industries along with gaining necessary skill sets.

The Indian Scenario

In India, technology training through e-learning is at a nascent stage but has a huge latent potential. With an estimated 150 million people in the age group of 18-23 years, the Indian education sector offers one of the most attractive markets for private and foreign players in my opinion. Recently, the Modi Government has allocated Rs. 100 Crores (~ $17 million) for Virtual Classroom and MOOCs. This reinstates the direction in which the government sees the future of education.

Technology training is subset of vocational training companies in India and led by bigwigs like NIIT, Aptech, Jetking, etc.  Most of these institutes conduct classroom sessions on various courses such as C, C++, Java, Dot Net, SQL, etc. These courses are preferred since the software/framework has acceptability in the market. However, new technologies like Mobile App development, WordPress, Data Analytics, and Cloud Computing suffer because of two reasons: a) Availability of trainers is limited and b) Lack knowledge in the consumer market. Delivering training using online courses is the natural answer to this problem. Online courses allow learners for anytime and anywhere learning and access to top trainers in the country. Apart from advantage of delivery of internet, such education is also cost effective. A single recorded lecture can reach to theoretically everyone.

What’s against MOOC in India

However, in a country where diplomas and degrees have greater importance than the actual knowledge or skill gained, a lack of accreditation and acceptance of online courses is an issue. But as our markets and people’s mindsets mature with time, MOOCs shall be adopted as a credible source of learning. Keeping this in mind, a number of MOOC portals are forming partnerships with universities and accrediting agencies to award recognition and credits in order to gain added legitimacy

Thus, to sum it up, one can say easily say that MOOCs is galloping effectively and is all set to change the technology training segment in India and one hopes this wave reaches as many Indians as possible since we all look forward to an educated India. This probably explains the 100 Cr investment of the government in online education.

Rishabh_BhandariAbout the Author:

Rishabh Bhandari is the Co-Founder at Yoda Learning, a start-up focused on teaching in-demand technologies using projects (MOOCs) to people across the world to make them employable. Prior to this he was part of the Investment Team at an Education-focused fund. Rishabh is an avid traveler and a music enthusiast. You can reach him at rishabh(dot)bhandari(at)ymail.com