Mr Ambrish Sinha is the Chief Executive Officer of UNext Learning- a 100% subsidiary of Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG). Mr Sinha is an accomplished business leader with deep experience in managing businesses across multiple sectors. He has successfully straddled the corporate and start-up world and is deeply passionate about technology and the impact it can create to transform businesses and communities at large. His focus is on building UNext as a strong platform that makes learning in a digital world easy, seamless and on the go, where it can truly replicate the offline learning environment in an online world. Ambrish provides strategic leadership to the company by working closely with the Board of Directors and the Management Team of UNext. Ambrish holds an MBA from TAPMI and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Pune. He has also completed the Global Enterprise Leaders’ Program from Insead, France in 2018. Mr Sinha ran the business side of Zopper, which built India’s first hyperlocal marketplace and smart ERP system for small retailers. Zopper raised 20 million USD from investors like Tiger Global, Nirvana and Blume. A part of Zopper’s business was acquired by PhonePe in 2018. Before this he has worked in the financial and managerial sectors and has held leadership roles at HDFC Life, ICICI Prudential and TVS Motor Company.
The growth of educational technology and online education is inevitable as the rapid advancement of technology has shaped the changing behaviour of consumers. In India, the EdTech sector had been recording a slow, but steady growth before the pandemic. But nobody imagined a growth as exponential as the last two years.
The pandemic became a blessing in disguise for the burgeoning EdTech industry across the globe as the online mode remained the only alternative to continue education when the operation of educational institutions got disrupted due to Covid-19. Since face-to-face learning came to a standstill, even formal education had to rely on online tools and functions for teaching and learning. It allowed them to reach out to the student community that was distributed across regions amid the crisis.
Following the increased penetration of digital solutions in day-to-day activities, individuals belonging to different age groups and experience levels consider online education a feasible solution to improve their knowledge levels and acquire in-demand skills to stay relevant in the volatile job market. The growing demand helped EdTech companies to attract investments. As a result, over 5000 start-ups emerged in the EdTech and e-learning sectors across India during this period, and five of them turned out to be unicorns. Among the five unicorns, four entered the elite list after 2020.
At present, India has over 9000 EdTech start-ups, which offer solutions in varied segments, including K-12, higher education, skill development, training and preparations, executive education, learning management system development, online examinations, and others. The current market size of the Indian EdTech industry is around USD 3 billion and is projected to reach USD 10 billion by 2025, owing to the ever-increasing internet and smartphone user base.
Emerging trends in the EdTech space
- Multi-lingual delivery: In higher education, the dominance of English as a medium of instruction has always been significant. The National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) proposed to bring regional language as the primary medium of instruction for education at all levels. This will improve accessibility and equity in education. EdTech players will also focus on preparing multi-lingual content and will deliver it in different regional languages. It is imperative to reach out to a broad learner community. This will also help teachers with local language expertise find attractive jobs in the EdTech sector.
- Adoption of AI-ML: Artificial intelligence and machine learning play a key role in almost all sectors. Several organisations have adopted this niche technology to effectively streamline their operations and functions. The education sector has also started exploring the possibilities of AI-ML to enable more personalised learning. This cutting-edge technology can offer an adaptive learning environment based on individual capacity. Adaptive learning provides personal-level education because the cognitive ability of each individual varies, and delivering the same content and pace makes the learning ineffective, especially for students with special needs. Artificial intelligence also helps EdTech players source prospective learners effectively.
- Micro-learning: Completing course content by a given time is a tedious and time-consuming task. It could, in some cases, result in learners losing interest or getting distracted. EdTech platforms now focus on providing bite-sized content in audio-visual, infographic, and lecture note formats to help learners comprehend easily and keep them engaged throughout their learning journey. Interactive quizzes and exercises and hands-on practical assignments have proven to be more effective learning methods for both fresh students and working professionals. Nowadays, a few e-learning platforms offer short-time certification by dividing long-term programmes into segments. It helps students learn only relevant parts or subjects instead of learning all the entire course.
- Gamification: Who doesn’t like a game! Using gaming strategy is a trend that is used in different sectors to attract and engage customers in their platforms. It ensures greater engagement and enhances customer retention. Applying gamification in education allows students to learn without losing interest. There are two types of gamification – structural gamification and content gamification. In structural gamification, the platform structure itself, is gamified. Content gamification is the gamification of course content. Both make learning fun and engaging. EdTech companies implement gamification by splitting the learning content into different levels and giving points or scores for completing each level. Quizzes or tests are used to grade and pass each level. A leader board on the platform provides learners and teachers with real-time status of students’ learning progression. It instils positive competition among the learners and keeps the students engaged till the end of the course.
- Immersive learning: The absence of a physical atmosphere is the biggest limitation of online education. A campus environment with the presence of co-learners and teachers establishes a psychological mindset to learn and grow. Online education providers are slowly attempting to replicate the campus elements in the online space. They are adopting various digital technologies to offer an immersive learning environment. The adoption of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is becoming a new trend in the EdTech industry. Some EdTech players have started preparing AR-VR content. With a VR device, students get a near-real learning experience. They can closely understand various concepts and acquire in-depth knowledge. The interactivity of these technologies allows immersive learning. As technology advances a little more each day, learners are getting a more immersive learning experience. Immersive learning will, no doubt, be a gamechanger for online as well as conventional education.
The EdTech sector has achieved tremendous growth in a short span of time. Before 2020, nobody predicted this rapid growth. This growth and transformation are here to stay for long. By adopting new technologies, the EdTech industry will witness a very sustainable growth. Growing demand, coupled with fresh funding and innovations are leading the industry to new heights. EdTech growth impacts the traditional education system as well. Thus, the positive intervention of EdTech innovations in education is going to shape the future of generations to come.