Online learning has been a real game-changer in 2016. And, latest technological developments, funding and innovation have contributed immensely towards making it an effective alternative to traditional teaching processes.
So, whether it’s MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) or SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses), both types of teaching have become instant hits with the student fraternity. Statistics from 2015 provide further proof to this trend.
• According to a story from The Economic Times, nearly 591 EdTech startups in India were founded in 2015. We believe that many more have joined the fray during 2016
• Nearly 35 million students from many countries enrolled for online courses at Class Central; this number was 15 million in 2014. The other interesting statistic here was that almost 10% of these are Indians
• In 2015, over 1.5 million Indian students took online courses in Coursera, the world’s leading online learning portal in India. Year 2016 numbers are perhaps in the region of 2 million
• Byju’s, which pioneered the new age learning app in India saw almost 250,000 annual paid subscriptions in 2015. During 2016, the total number of downloads of video content and tests was 5.5 million.
• Other players in the edtech sector such as edX and Khan Academy also saw a marked increase in their enrolment numbers due to the wide range of courses offered
The tremendous rise of interest towards online learning can be attributed to individual students and even employers realising the need to up-skill so that students/employees are better equipped to meet new challenges in a fast-changing world.
In 2016, fund raising and innovation were the two clear trends within the online learning industry.
Funding in the EdTech Sector
Over the past few years, the Indian tech scenario was dominated by e-commerce companies. Year 2015 onwards, investors started shifting focus to EdTech. In fact, by the third quarter of 2016, EdTech came up as the most capital intensive sector in terms of funding, followed by FinTech and HealthTech. (see inforgraphic)
Source: Inc42 Indian Startup Ecosystem, Funding Report 2016
According to a Forbes report in October 2016, India witnessed 51 deals valued at $155 million in FY 2015. In the subsequent year (FY 2016), the EdTech segment raised $85 million. As we approach March 31, 2017, the top 10 deals during the year already account for $62 million. (see infographic)
Going forward, we are certain that the FY16 figure of $85 million will be breached in the next three months.
Innovation in the EdTech Sector
With the generous inflow of money into the sector and leading educational institutions accepting the introduction of new technologies, innovation is clearly a focus area. Here are a few examples:
• Plastic Water Labs is trying to tackle the issue of poor comprehension by introducing learning through virtual reality (VR), which will make learning fun, immersive and interactive. The VR lessons, designed for students in Classes VI-VIII, are delivered over Android-based smartphones
• TotSmart Education, a startup that started in 2013, is working towards making personalizing for each Indian student in the country, whether rich or poor. The company is trying to revolutionize the teaching methodology from the traditional “One to Many” to “One to One” teaching solutions, powered by new age technologies. The TotSmart product line comprises the traditional textbooks and the combined offering for schools is a mix of physical books and access to the digital platform. The digital learning platform from TotSmart is their mobile app known as Pedron. Pedron is a combination of game-based learning with a monitor that tracks performance.
• CareerGuide is India’s largest career counselling platform and features an AI-led algorithm to connect students with the best possible career guidance expert based on their query. Additionally, the psychometric assessments help them discover their true aptitude, interests, motivations and personality, and thus make informed career decisions
• ConveGenius is a company working towards digitising education and making it affordable as well as fun. The company’s technological backbone hosts two different products - one for the K-12 market, and the other on the test preparation to enhance employability and skills for higher age groups
• Embibe’s team of entrepreneurs coach students for various entrance examinations like JEE, AIIMS, AIPMT, CET and many more
The way ahead…
The traditional education system may not change immediately. However, the way knowledge is consumed is definitely undergoing a transformation. If the momentum of innovation and funding continues, we may actually get to witness a metamorphosis in the education space in our country. Amen.
Stories by Ashwin Damera