Beas Dev Ralhan is the Chief Executive Officer of Next Education India Private Limited, a technology-driven education enterprise, headquartered in Hyderabad. Beas co-founded this educational organisation in 2007 along with Raveendranath Kamath, an IIT Kharagpur alumnus.
The Indian school market currently accounts for nearly 1.5 million K-12 schools and a student base of over 250 million. The K-12 education market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 31.6% during the forecast period of 2021 to 2026. The edtech sector witnessed an unprecedented surge in online education and upskilling in the country as the world faced a sudden halt due to the global pandemic. The Indian education sector, which is currently valued at $180 billion is predicted to exhibit strong growth and register a value of $313 billion by 2030.
With technology coming to the forefront of imparting education during the pandemic, the Indian edtech space witnessed much action in 2021. The 21st-century pedagogy which enables educators to foster collaborative learning, create a dynamic classroom experience and make learning exciting is redefining the entire learning landscape. The integration of smart technology into learning environments which encompasses a broad range of activities, tools, and services, aims to improve the educational outcomes of students. But now as the pandemic recedes, the education institutes are reopening and the teaching-learning community is set to get back to the ‘old normal’.
In the post-pandemic scenario, the educational institutes are increasingly adopting the hybrid model which will reshape the entire educational landscape. Edtech players see ample opportunities to use the omnichannel model (online and offline) learning models for decolonizing learning and employing transformative pedagogies. The year 2021 has been a year of consistent fund flows for the edtech startups; by raising $4.7 billion in funds, placing edtech startups as the third most-funded sector.
‘Hybrid’ is the new normal
The massive edtech adoption has empowered educators to adopt a multi-modal form of learning and resources including AI, blended learning, interactive learning, and experiential approach to provide a new experience to the learners. The future of learning is hybrid, with nearly 94% of parents believing that hybrid is an effective model that bridges the void between traditional classroom learning, and online and offline educational resources. Leveraging online and offline tools can enhance the classroom experience for students and ease the skill crisis efficiently.
Omnichannel means the best of both worlds (online and offline)
Omnichannel takes this approach to the next level and provides ease of learning via any learning channel a learner wants to adopt. The goal of this model is to improve the overall learning experience and open up avenues that allow one to learn anytime, anywhere, at any pace. The idea is to provide options that are cost-competitive, where students/learners can access the best education from the comfort of their homes. Some of the major online edtech players are now reinventing themselves by shifting to a hybrid model to leverage the offline market share which will help them in building brand trust and cater to low- to middle-income groups.
Peer-to-peer interaction is a great advantage of offline learning models and students can also get a personalized experience from these programs. The global personalized learning market is estimated to grow by $7.2 billion by 2030. This astounding figure can be attributed to the increasing demand for personalized learning solutions and the need for education programs that can be tailored to meet individual requirements.
With innovative learning content and intelligent tutoring systems, students can expand the horizon of their learning. They now have the opportunity to use virtual reality to develop analytical thinking, critical skills, problem-solving approach, etc. A blended learning environment enables the tutors to interact with learners, provide instant feedback, and access course materials on the go. An integrated learning platform can facilitate effective communication among students, teachers, parents, and school administrators.
Industry experts believe that the online mode of education works best in certain lines of study, especially certification courses and skill training, while offline learning platforms can be an ideal environment that fosters great interaction opportunities with their peers. The National Education Policy 2020 suggests, ‘’While promoting digital learning and education, the importance of face-to-face, in-person learning is fully recognized. Accordingly, different effective models of learning will be identified for appropriate replication for different subjects.” For instance, the flipped model of blended learning allows trainers to prioritize active learning during class time by giving training materials and presentations to the learners before the class begins. The trainer can share the content via a learning management system (LMS), email, etc.
For decades, the education sector has followed a specific pattern, but there is a marked difference between ‘learning’ and ‘being taught’. At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world had to shift to virtual instructions. The advent of new technologies in the past couple of years has paved the way for students and teachers to choose what suits their needs. Technology is undoubtedly transforming the way we learn today. Traditional schools have undergone a big transformation during the pandemic and adapted to edtech and science pedagogy. Edtech has made learning more flexible and user-friendly, and it’s changing the way young minds perceive education in a remarkable manner.