Indian economy has been growing rapidly over the past few years. This rapid growth has brought the best of technology to India, with several tech giants setting up shop in the country. Technology has further boosted the growth trend and also enhanced the way different sectors like business, agriculture and education function.
Education as a sector has benefited the most as technology has made learning easy. Not only have the pedagogical methods adopted technology in a big way, but technology is also making knowledge more accessible than ever before. A KPMG study of 2016 shows that the Indian online learning market is set to grow to a whopping $ 1.96 billion by 2021.
The KPMG study shows that online education in India is still in the developing phase. There is an increasing number of people steering towards online professional courses in the streams of Analytics, Finance, Leadership, Supply chain and more. Instead of diplomas and graduation, people turn to online higher education more for specialization. Below are some of the reasons why this is happening:
- Relevance of course: Despite the fact that India has one of the oldest education systems in the world, the system mostly fails to upgrade to the current trends. Most of the university courses in India for undergraduate and post-graduate levels are not updated to match industry trends. Moreover, these courses are two to three years in duration. For millennials, that is a lifetime. Thus, they prefer shorter online certificate courses which are more relevant and updated to industry requirements. Online learning platforms such as Udemy, Coursera and Simplilearn have been founded on this premise relating to self-paced. Talentedge offering an instructor-led live online course that helps to provide a detailed insight with practical exposure.
- Quality of course: In several colleges and universities across different states, the quality of offline education is not great. This includes the course structure, pedagogy methods and tools as well as incompetency of faculty. States like Bihar, Kerala and J&K see nearly four lakh students enrolling for distance education or e-learning programs.
- Convenience: A large number of people opting for online certificate courses do this for the convenience it offers. Flexibility in terms of time requirement and commitment is a very important contributing factor.
- Accessibility: Online education can be accessed anywhere with the basic requirement of internet and device.
- Flexibility: Most online certificate courses offer the self-paced learning module with certain deadlines for assignments and projects. This enables learners to set their own learning schedule and is extremely beneficial to those already working.
- Internet and Smartphone penetration: With approximately 31% internet penetration in 2016, the KPMG report predicts internet penetration to nearly double by 2021. The smartphone penetration is also expected to rise from 290 million in 2016 to 470 million in 2021. This will vastly increase the scope of online education in India.
- Government Impetus: The Indian government’s Digital India initiative and its efforts to make digital technology accessible to even remote villages are helping the elearning sector as well. With the DigiGaon initiative, the government wants students to access education and skill training through digital means.
- Reskilling opportunity: Online education offers working professionals with the opportunity to upgrade their skills within their own convenience parameters. With increased living costs, it is often very difficult for professionals to take a break from their jobs. However, moving up the career ladder may require reskilling. Online education fills this gap.
- Engaging learning models: Most online learning modules are crafted to be engaging. Also, a large number of online modules are kept within a time limit of 15 – 20 minutes. Completing each individual module and its related review exercise or assignment gives a sense of fulfilment to the learner. Also, modules are crafted in different content formats like videos, texts, powerpoint presentations etc. to keep monotony from setting in. Most online certificate courses have exclusive discussion forums for students and teachers.
- Cost of education: Getting a college education is an extremely expensive affair. Add it to the fact that one has already taken a loan on initial training such as engineering, it is very difficult to acquire new skills through a college education. It is doubly expensive for working professionals who would have to leave their jobs. Online education comes at a much cheaper price in comparison to a college education. Hence, students are widely preferring online certificate courses over college degrees.
All these reasons will factor in future growth in online education. Essentially, a large population of new-age Indians will be educated in part through online education. Going forward, the country will be looking at online course content and pedagogy that will match the one-to-one interaction of traditional learning methods. This is already possible on various learning platforms where a face-to-face chat option is available to the teacher and student.
Apart from this, the online certificate courses would have to build practical components that speed up learning and authenticate it too. For example, students might be asked to demonstrate their learning in a real-time environment. Moreover, the KPMG report predicts that more students from tier 2 and 3 cities are likely to prepare for competitive exams. Thus, online test preparation will also form a large part of online education requirements among students in the coming years. Certain players are already catering to the needs of such students.