Anmol Mathur is an entrepreneurial-spirited, pioneering technologist with business acumen and 20+ years of experience of working in the domain of Information Technology (IT) encompassing roles of a CTO, an IT business head, VP IT Development working in IT operations, IT transformation, change management and program management in Media and Banking Industry. He has a domain expertise in IT, System Architecture/Infrastructure design, full project life cycle management, client/vendor relationship management, and financial/operational management, P&L responsibilities of 25+ Crore Revenue and working across geographies and multiple departments.
The edtech industry played a pivotal role in maintaining the continuity of education during the pandemic as countries witnessed multiple lockdowns that drastically affected businesses and economies equally. The disruptive changes brought by technology was a key to promulgating the growth of the edtech industry.
It is one of the few domains that witnessed an impressive growth during the pandemic, bucking the trend of an otherwise recessive economy, brought by a surge of enrolment in online learning, boosting revenues and investments. According to data by the Indian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (IVCA) and PGA Labs, Indian edtech startups witnessed a total investment of USD 2.22 billion in 2020. This is a massive increase compared to USD 553 million in 2019.
Artificial intelligence (AI), augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), machine learning, and blockchain have enhanced systems to make online learning effective. The capability of these advanced technologies to automate basic classroom activities such as queries, feedback, and evaluation is helping improve the overall experience of users, further fuelling the edtech boom.
The digitalisation of learning has important long-term consequences in the democratisation of education and skill development, which will continue to spur the growth of edtech in the country. As edtech has emerged as a major disruptive factor in the education sector, through this article, we shall factor its impact to democratise education, enhance skill development and the road ahead.
Democratisation of Education
The National Education Policy (NEP 2020) emphasizes investing in the creation of open, interoperable, evolvable, and digital infrastructure in the education sector that can be used by multiple platforms and point solutions. It is pertinent to address the issue related to scalability, device penetration, and internet access while furthering the availability of regional language content and software development for smart devices, that will lead to the accessibility of high-quality education for its young learners across India. The edtech sector is working towards achieving NEP’s goals by helping bridge this gap.
Digital education platforms are developing innovative solutions to enable offline access to online resources, facilitating access to learning content and virtual classrooms, both online and offline, for learners from regions where internet connectivity is intermittent. The world is witnessing the emergence of low-cost e-learning resources and the expansion of existing digital platforms to meet the challenges related to adaptability, data privacy and the ever-evolving skill needs of the industry.
These developments are leading to the growth of the edtech industry, whose market size is currently about USD 700-800 million. With the increase in investments and higher accessibility to resources, the market size is set to reach USD 30 billion in the next 10 years.
Workplaces have started hiring employees with new skills, such as data analysis, coding, innovation, problem-solving, communication, leadership, crisis management, and digital and media literacy. Edtech platforms are helping students build these skills by adopting strategies such as industry-specific learning, gamification, and interactive assessments, opening pathways to alternative education and skilling opportunities regardless of their location, background, and age.
Apart for educational institutions, edtech has made its presence in the corporate world as establishments looked to invest in upskilling and reskilling of their employees. They aim to help their workforce grow in their current roles, adapt to new-age technologies and, thus, bring added value to the organisation.
The structure of edtech offerings does not only remove barriers of geography but is also useful in imparting corporate skills to executives through online courses and capstone projects. The project work exposes them to scenarios that help them navigate business issues effectively and develop competencies for the actual corporate ecosystem, from home or office. Moreover, the virtual experience is cost-effective and flexible, and is, thus, suitable for small and medium-sized companies.
In years to come, the growth of edtech industry is expected to be driven by K12, higher education, vocational education, executive training, and upskilling. An increased focus on self-paced learning, better accessibility and continuous learning via professional courses will drive innovations in the learning content and delivery. Digital platforms will continue to remain focused on providing more customised and personalised learning experience backed by data driven intelligence.
Further, a large population with differing needs across cities, languages, cultures, and income groups present an opportunity for ongoing disruption and has potential for multiple edtech players. The outlook combined with demonstrated impact so far will ensure that the funding ecosystem will continue to support the growth of the edtech sector post-COVID.
The edtech industry has witnessed impressive growth despite the pandemic enforced lockdowns and led to higher technology penetration, increased funding and favourable government policies. Despite exponential growth, the edtech sector still grapples with infrastructure constraints owing to low-end devices and poor connectivity. To overcome these challenges edtech platforms and their stakeholders should build a range of better-optimised hyper-local resources and innovative products.