EdTech: The New Normal of Learning?
COVID-19 has impacted every area of our lives and left us with no choice but to find new alternatives. Schooling and education were no exception. Parents, teachers and students felt nothing but helpless as everything came to a standstill. Schools and universities were shut and the situation was uncertain. While it was convenient for adults to adapt to the new normal and work from home, teachers and students had a hard time figuring out a way to keep the learning going. Edtech, the practice of using technology in education, has been around for quite some years but it was never considered a substitute to classroom teaching. Parents have always preferred live learning as the best possible method. However, times changed and we ended up in a situation that required us to learn virtually and adopt edtech. It has been six months and the edtech sector has flourished more than ever.
The rise was huge and pretty visible as the sector dominated the market numbers. The edtech sector in India is currently estimated to be valued at $735 million and a growth of 150% is expected in 2020. A number of edtech startups have completed their long-term goals within these six months of lockdown. The users have increased manifold and the businesses are soaring high. The consumer base of these upcoming disruptors in the education arena, not only consists of students but also working professionals. Lockdown increased the time people had on their hands which they utilised by enhancing and developing their skill sets. These innovative startups have included various courses which attract not only students but also adults who are currently working. Employers have also encouraged their employees to learn new skills via these courses.
Edtech has evolved over the years and has come a long way. It started with video-based learning which has now evolved into an interactive platform that adapts to the different needs of every learner. Students used to interact with peers and teachers which made learning more wholesome. Until recently, interactive virtual learning wasn’t a thing. But today, every edtech platform has various features that enhance the learning to make it more interactive and complete. Parents have started to rely on them as it makes learning fun and makes the concepts easy to understand. Moreover, allowing the students to learn at their own pace has proved to be another reason for their huge success.
Millions of people have signed up in the past few months and this massive growth has led to increased hiring and new opportunities. The increased consumer base demanded an increased workforce to deal with the complaints and enhance the learning experience for its users. Unlike Facebook and other social media platforms, these learning platforms offer paid services to its customers. Even besides all this, the growth is consistent. The reason being, most parents are willing to spend on their child’s education in the hope of a better future for them. Thus, paid subscriptions to e-learning was seen as an investment and was a big hit.
Will the edtech boom sustain post this lockdown period? It has been six months and most of us have adapted to this new normal of wearing masks and following social distancing at all points of time. The easing of lockdown has begun and people are getting back to work. Eventually schools, colleges and universities will open up for students, and in no time classroom teaching will overtake these virtual platforms. We cannot really predict how it is going to turn out for these companies in the near future, but it is highly likely that the growth might increase even in the post-COVID-19 period. First, the New Education Policy (NEP) will be implemented and the use of technology in learning will finally catch up with the outdated curriculums of schools. With the government’s plans to introduce coding for students, it is likely that parents would trust online tutors more than they would trust school teachers. The simple reason being that these edtech startups have the resources to onboard experienced coders and teachers in this field and many of these platforms already offer fundamental courses on coding. Second, with the growing demand for skills like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning in every field, it seems like technology in education is here to stay. The edtech market will not die out soon as we are expecting a merger between online and offline learning in the entire education system. There are certain problems that might impact its growth as a whole, issues of internet connectivity in suburban and rural areas might be a problem for many. All these problems demand unique solutions that the developers need to think about.
Edtech is like any other service which makes our lives easier. It aids us by providing a simpler way of learning and understanding things. We don’t know as of now whether it can possibly replace our classroom learning, however, it can definitely be integrated with the existing system to make our approach more holistic. The burden now lies on the developers to attract maximum users and provide unique features to ensure sustainability. While the choice remains on the students and the parents if they choose to trust this form of education in the coming decades.
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