Ranganath is the Senior Director-Growth for Agora. He is responsible for the overall business and operations of Agora.io India and the SAARC region. His directive includes growing market share and driving healthy ecosystem growth among both partners and customers in the region. He comes with a strong Sales & Business Leadership background with over 25 years of in-depth industry experience. Prior to joining Agora.io, Ranganath co-founded Fetchon.com, worked with Syniverse Technologies, Verisign Inc, EFI, Unimobile and Micros Fidelio India in various capacities. He holds an Executive MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies and is a graduate in Arts from Osmania University along with a diploma in Hotel Management and Catering Technology.
Nelson Mandela rightly said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” One of the most powerful ways to transform a person’s life is providing access to quality education. The education sector was among the early adopters of the digital model since the onset of the pandemic. Teachers and students came together to combat the technical problems and innovated remote learning solutions.
Educators and students have realized that traditional classroom-based learning has a lower level of scalability – limited by factors like the physical infrastructure of resources, class size, geographical location, and even accessibility. There is also an ongoing debate about whether schooling should be supplemented by online learning, creating the best of both worlds. While technology enables the continuity of education, there is also skepticism about how online classes can mimic a physical classroom atmosphere.
In the recent decade, especially over the last two years, we have seen how technology has transformed everything from how we live or work to how we interact. EdTech is on a solid growth trajectory owing to factors like better speed of internet connection, robust digital platforms, compelling digital content, plummeting costs of data and devices, and the emergence and adoption of adaptive learning.
Challenges to scalable online education
Training through an online platform allows flexible learning, but it has not always been a smooth journey for online education. Despite the strides in combining technology with online learning, there are still some challenges:
Lag in Feedback: An in-class experience allows interpersonal interactions and one-on-one tutoring. There has been development in this area, but this continues to be a barrier for many. There is an unintentional and indefinite delay in response, which causes unwanted lag.
Affordability: Technology comes at a cost — costs of the gadget, internet access and more.
Although people have accepted this cost, the recurring nature of these costs acts as a hindrance.
Dynamic nature of the digital world: Platform or app developers try to pack as many features into their products as possible. However, digital transformation or progress is happening at breakneck speeds, and keeping up with the advancements is a challenge. Developers often overload their platforms with so many features leaving the users intimidated.
Real-time engagement is the key to synchronous learning
Synchronous learning with live audio and video technologies is vital to combat the above challenges and provide large-scale digital learning programs. This approach has been far more successful in driving impactful education outcomes at scale. Live, synchronous learning helps students engage better through real-time feedback and doubt resolution, real-time project-based learning, group discussion, team competitions, and more. An excellent example of this is upGrad, which replicates the real-time classroom learning experience by providing greater interactivity, real-time response, in-class concept check, and session analytics.
By leveraging leading-edge live video and audio, technology creates a learning experience that engages students when learning through activities and discussions in the live online classroom instead of passively listening to a recording.
In addition to audio and video communication, these online classrooms allow real-time messaging and teachers to share files with students synchronously. In the one-to-one classroom and small classroom setups, features like live video, virtual interactive whiteboard, screen share, and full-length recordings backed by multilayer security for data protection help teachers and students collaborate better. These technologies increase the efficiency of the process of teaching and allow student feedback with impactful interactivity. Now educators from large urban to small rural districts can connect and collaborate with experts and peers worldwide to form online professional learning communities.
The initial abrupt shift to remote learning was highly challenging. It propelled the EdTech sector to upgrade the learning platforms to make learning easier for students and teachers worldwide. The rapid adoption of interactive online learning and a significant investment in hardware, software, content, and training helped make online learning an effective education model. While online learning became essential to fill the education gaps during this unprecedented period, it is also here to stay as an integral part of future classrooms.
Careful designing and thoughtful application can accelerate, amplify, and expand the impact of effective teaching practices. By leveraging proven education technologies such as live video and audio, education providers can improve the scalability and accessibility of high-quality education. Apart from this, immersive learning (XR-based) and gamification will redefine various facets of education like extra-curricular learning, adult learning, skills training, and language learning. Over time EdTechs will be able to deliver high-quality, low-cost education to a large pool of students. Exploring new learning models, creating new digital learning environments, and designing more effective learning approaches will help companies effectively scale globally.