Uttam Kumar Pandey is the Founder and CEO at Bangalore-based Perceived Design. The visionary strived to set up a brand that would work to bridge the gap between the physical world and the digital world seamlessly. With this vision, he has successfully built a content creating product which enables brands to design experiential digital engagement like AR and VR in a few clicks. Uttam is working with dedication to cater to the Education field, E-com, Market Research and Real Estate and is successfully driving content creation with multimedia production.
The pandemic’s outburst last year brought about major disruptions. Be it our lifestyles or businesses, every aspect of our life upturned. Owing to COVID-19 induced lockdown and social distancing norms, every organization resorted to the online medium to ensure their survival and continuance of their operations. The education space was no exception and the emergence of ed-tech at the global level picked up pace primarily due to coronavirus.
Over the years, India has been one of the prominent ed-tech markets across the globe. IBEF’s reports highlight a similar trend and state that out of 1400 ed-tech companies in the world, our country has the second-highest number and accounts for 10% of the global market share with 327 ed-tech firms. The Indian online education sector was valued at $247 million in 2016 and is expected to hit $1.96 billion by the end of 2021 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 52%. The major reasons for this growth will be changing consumer preferences and the adoption of online learning along with improvements in the sector’s offerings.
Roadblocks faced by ed-tech space in India
However, tech-based learning in India comes with its fair share of challenges as well. Be it, teachers, parents, or students, moving from the physical mode of teaching to the virtual space for learning was indeed a major and sudden shift. More than a year with the surging pandemic, the ed-tech sector has witnessed a significant growth. However, with the ongoing unstable times come various road bumps that the industry faces at various levels and is trying to cope up with. These challenges primarily arise due to the lack of proper innovative strategies and the execution of the processes along with the absence of required assistance in the form of tools and technology to upscale the ed-tech industry.
We have identified and enlisted a few problematic areas that need to be improved so as to enhance the overall Indian ed-tech segment-
Lack of interaction and practical exposure
Irrespective of however a boon online learning has emerged to be, it is indeed an undeniable fact that keeping the students engaged during the online lectures is a hassle. Without the physical presence of the teachers and in the absence of face-to-face communication, keeping the students motivated, focused, and engaged in the studies is a major issue that almost all the teachers face with the concept of virtual learning.
Another major concern area is the unavailability of extending the practical exposure of theoretical concepts. This has prominently affected all fields especially subjects like science for schools and courses of nursing, art classes, journalism, etc. The hands-on learning of science labs of schools and courses relying on experiential learning or physical presence and communication suffer since these subjects follow a practical based approach and are impossible to be taught without in-person instructions and interaction. Students need to implement the learnings and learn along with the teacher so as to grasp the subjects well.
Learning Pedagogy Flexibility
Online learning has made the educational experience for students digitized, flexible and convenient. However, it has also increased problems primarily for the teachers as they have to focus on not only ensuring that the learning process is high-end and engaging but they also have to keep into consideration the learning-centered and teacher-centered pedagogy. This implies that they have to bring about innovations in their teaching style and chalk out a process that will extend a thorough, holistic, and good quality educational experience to the students. It should take into account prior learning, make up for the classroom environment, and should be robust enough to motivate the students to study well and achieve their educational goals effectively. They have to come up with creative teaching methodologies that would ensure knowledge sharing from their end along with active self-learning and pro-active knowledge gathering from the students’ side as well. This approach is essential as it helps in creating a collaborative, encouraging, and supportive tech-based learning environment.
Feeling of isolation
The students while studying from their respective screens at their home without having teachers, friends, and classmates around them, end up feeling isolated. This not only decreases their involvement and interest in studies but also leads to demotivation and lack of attentiveness. The learners no longer remain pro-active in their approach towards studies or getting queries resolved promptly and their learning process suffers significantly.
Even though this is a psychological factor but it renders a huge impact on the students’ motivation and learning progress. They have always been brought up with physical contact with the teachers and face-to-face communication. They were accustomed to the routine of going to school every day and spending their time in holistic learning while sharing experiences, cracking jokes with their peers, communicating with professors, having fun times with friends along with gaining social skills, and enhancing their personalities. For the students, the classroom was no less than a sanctuary which has now been taken away!
Assessment and supervision
Right after the online learning experience, another issue that the ed-tech sector faces is a concrete way of assessment and supervision of the students. While analyzing the kids’ progress was easier in the school and physical classrooms, doing so in the virtual space becomes tough. The traditional methods won’t work with online learning and hence teachers have to come up with new ways to assess the progress of the students and their learning methodology via a combination of tests, quizzes, and online examinations.
In the present times, educators are treading on the path of a recognized researcher and professor, Steven Osterlind. A 2002 study by him states that there exists numerous literature on test and measurement theory and analysis with little details on planning, development, and test items writing by instructors. He puts forward the theory of item analysis and points out that it is the process by which items are examined critically and analytically. This concept can be applied to test items and offers opportunities to monitor and improve their quality so as to utilize them optimally and effectively for future assessments.
Lack of Structure & Self-Discipline
Shifting from a routine structured day at school perfectly combining learning and extra-curricular activities to a completely unorganized flexible learning at home can be tough to adjust to for the students.
Preparing children especially the young generation to sit for long hours before the screens for studying and attending live classes is indeed a tedious job. For college goers, focusing on the lectures on Zoom or Google Meets can also prove to be an arduous task since there are a lot of distractions while being at home, be it smartphones, social media, or home activities.
Furthermore, not only has virtual learning impacted our socializing skills but has robbed off the students from instilling public etiquette, developing their personalities, and moved them away from gathering self-discipline and organization.
In addition to the above, there are some other key issues that are faced by various socio-economic groups from the tier 2 and 3 cities of India as well. These challenges range from gadgets shortage, crashing systems, and connectivity glitches due to unavailability of technology, along with computer literacy, and act as barriers for the growth of the ed-tech segment in these areas.
It is indeed an undeniable fact that no matter how much we try, replicating the physical classroom experience in the online space isn’t possible! However, ed-tech firms have enabled students and teachers to continue their learning process in the online space flexibly and conveniently while staying at home.
Yes, the sector is presently facing various challenges due to the turbulent times, all thanks to the global pandemic crisis! However, the dire need is to resolve these hurdles at the earliest so that the ed-tech space can proliferate at a significant pace in the times ahead. With the right attitude, approach and support, the segment can expand prominently and its future indeed seems promising.