Abhimanyu Saxena is the co-founder at InterviewBit and Scaler Academy. An IIIT – Hyderabad Alumni, Abhimanyu started his entrepreneurial journey during his B.Tech days. While working with Fab.com, Abhimanyu experienced a scarcity of skilled tech talent owing to the considerable gap that exists between the university curriculum and the skills that are required to succeed as a software engineer. This led him to join hands with his college friend -Anshuman Singh and launch InterviewBit.
- Could you elaborate on the impact of the pandemic on teaching and learning?
Like in any other sector, the pandemic has had a significant impact on the education sector and provided a much-needed impetus for digitization. It has transformed the education system drastically and has brought a paradigm shift in teaching and learning methodologies forcing educational institutions across the globe to re-imagine traditional classroom learning and transition to an online mode of teaching to provide uninterrupted access to education and knowledge. Most importantly, myths surrounding the feasibility and efficiency of online learning have been addressed, and the growing demand for online platforms is a testimony to this. Without any doubt, education has been the silver lining in this pandemic.
- How has the role of an educator during the pandemic outbreak changed?
Though the whole world was unprepared for lockdown, most businesses managed to get business continuity plans in place very quickly. They were able to allow their stakeholders the flexibility to work remotely. However, the same was not valid for a vast majority of educational institutions. Since educational institutions were way behind in adopting technology, having focused more on classroom teaching and never having seriously considered online education as a credible model, they were slightly more unprepared than other sectors. However, due to the incredible resilience and determination, educators were quick to adapt to the new normal. Instructors and educators have had to upskill themselves almost overnight to adjust to the new modes of teaching, ensuring that learning remains accessible to students even in the current circumstances.
With learning shifting from the public space (classrooms) to a more personal area (online), the role of the educator has also evolved. As the demand for personalized learning and online courses continues to snowball, instructors are required to learn (upskill) as much as, or even more than their students to deal with the new demand for future-proof courses. As teaching and learning become more personalized, educators need to come up with innovative teaching methodologies on a case-to-case basis to suit the learner’s requirement.
From preparing a personalized curriculum for courses to being a content creator to mentoring students on real-world projects to ensure that they are job-proof, and upskilling themselves to stay abreast of emerging technology and skills, today’s educators dabble in many things. From being facilitators of learning, educators have also turned to be innovators.
- Why do you think the demand for online instructors & remote tutors increased in these times?
There was an unprecedented demand for online personalized coaching and upskilling courses as people wanted to acquire new skills or strengthen their existing knowledge to be job safe in these challenging times. Many people who had either lost their jobs or had been furloughed due to the pandemic took the lockdown as an opportunity to invest their time in reskilling. At the same time, students on the verge of graduating and entering the workforce saw this an opportunity to learn skills that are in demand to help them secure good placements for a job that may yield better financial results and career progression. Hence there is a demand for educators with knowledge, skills, expertise, and experience in a specialized area or subject. In fact, at Scaler Academy, we are looking to onboard over 500 remote, part-time instructors, mentors, and teaching assistants by this year-end to cater to the demand for online coding courses on our platform. Interestingly, full-time professionals and industry veterans are also becoming part-time online instructors and taking the role of mentors. Many of them see this as an opportunity to give back to the community and build a pipeline of talent for the industry.
- How important has it become for students to have a practical learning experience?
Theoretical knowledge is essential as it lays the foundation of any skill and introduces the learner to the subject. However, this theoretical knowledge has to be extensively supplemented with practical learning as it allows learners to translate theoretical knowledge to real-life applications and deep dive into the subject. There are a lot of things one can learn only through execution and experience. By working on real-world projects, learners get not only hands-on experience but also understand problem-solving ability, collaboration, the importance of teamwork, and other skills that are equally important to improve one’s career prospects.
Also, in a fast-paced and competitive world where old technology is replaced by new technology in a couple of months to a few years, companies can no longer afford to invest in training fresh graduates with these new skills. Hence, employers are now willing to pay a premium for talents (especially in the areas of coding and programming) with knowledge and practical experience, so that they can start on the shop floor immediately. In fact, according to our in-house survey, only three percent of engineering graduates in India get high-quality tech jobs with salary packages of Rs. 8-10 lakhs and above. This is because of the gap between the skills needed for high-quality technology jobs and the work-readiness of graduates.
- Could you tell us more about the emerging trends in the education sector and what else should we be on the lookout for?
As mentioned earlier, the pandemic has given a much-needed impetus to the education sector to adopt digitization and think beyond classroom teaching to provide universal access to quality education. More importantly, the higher education space is set to transform radically in the next few years as the ambiguity around the feasibility and credibility of online courses has now been addressed. As more educational institutions go online to offer their programs, students from Tier 2 and Tier 3 regions will be benefited immensely. With technology increasingly becoming a way of life, the demand for coding will continue to grow and might become a part of the curriculum for all streams going forward.
The curriculum will be more practical and skill-oriented with a focus on creating a pipeline of high quality and job-ready talent for the industry. Demand for upskilling platforms will only continue to grow as people have now realized the importance of regular upskilling and acquiring new skill-sets to meet evolving workforce demands and stay relevant.