With increasing Internet penetration and affordable smartphones, learning is no longer restricted to classrooms. Of late, the education sector is undergoing tremendous changes, and the e-learning market has been seeing a sea-change in terms of technology and learners.
Global research firm Technavio predicts the online education market in India to grow at a CAGR of 19.05% during the period 2016-2020.
According to Technopak’s analysis, India’s digital learning market is currently estimated at $2 billion in 2016, growing at a CAGR of 30%, and is expected to reach $5.7 billion by 2020.
Apart from a few well-known players in the e-learning space, there are more number of startups that are coming in to tap the market.
Coursera Chief Business Officer Nikhil Sinha says, “India will have 100 million new people seeking higher education in the next 10 years. We do not have adequate number of institutions to educate these people. The only place that they can get education is online. Today, we have 20 million people enrolled in higher education in India. We can’t build the institutions and facilities to suffice the five-times enrolment increase. Thus, online is an important part to meet the aspirations of these youngsters who want education to advance in their careers.”
Coursera is the largest higher online education and learning platform, and all its courses have a video component, and it has built features to allow people to interact with each other. “We have a feature called Peer-grading, so that people taking the course can grade each other’s work. We have experts grading… all of this is online, done without human intervention,” he adds.
Simplilearn, which offers over 400 courses in new-age disciplines such as Big Data, Data Science and Agile-Scrum, among others, is growing at a rate of 100% year-on-year. In the coming fiscal, it plans to introduce courses in IoT, Product Management, Design, and Digital Selling. Over five lakh professionals across 150 countries have been trained so far.
Simplilearn Chief Business Officer Kashyap Dalal says the culture of continuous learning has increased among corporates, which has led to a wide adoption of learning technologies at the workplace. “The rapid increase in Internet connectivity has been an important catalyst for the growth of e-learning in the country. With organisations fuelling more innovation on the pretext of the advanced technologies changing the way businesses function, online learning plays a significant role in moulding millions of employees digital ready,” he says.
Broad and deep market
An online education technology company, betterU, recently joined hands with Pluralsight, the global leader in online learning for technology professionals.
Pluralsight India Country Head and General Manager Arun Rajamani says, “In India, e-learning is a very broad and deep market. There are several segments such as Instructor-led Virtual Academies — they provide virtual classroom environments; Virtual Labs — set up by the government or tier I universities like virtual practice environments; Online assessment companies — provide online platforms for skills assessments; Self-paced online learning companies — provide courses online which are self-paced and multi-device; Online courses only for certifications — courses are linked to degrees and certifications; and online universities that offer courses directly or tie up with partners to offer courses through them.”
Apart from these, there are student/campus-focused online learning companies, and there are numerous online players focused on schools, tuitions etc.
He adds that Pluralsight is focused on self-paced learning for technology professionals. “This segment in terms of people is about 2.75 million, and is set to grow to 5.2 million tech professionals in 2018, thereby overtaking the US to be the largest developer population in the world,” he said.
Pluralsight supports more than 3.8 million learners and over 12,000 enterprises with its platform. In India, it has over 300 enterprise customers, and it has scaled the India team in the last 18 months.
“Digital/SMAC technologies are the biggest enablers of e-learning around the world, and India is not too different. Increasingly, learning is becoming a cloud service, it is available on multiple devices — desktop and mobile, learning is becoming a social activity with gamification being a driving force in getting learners to compare notes with their peers, and finally, the analytics is providing learners and employers with deep insights on learning styles, learning topics, interest areas etc.,” he explains.
Great Learning, which offers online programmes for working professionals in partnership with Great Lakes Institute of Management, has introduced a new technique called ‘Gamificiation in Education’.
“Gamification is the use of game mechanics and competitive dynamics in education to sustain engagement and motivation over long durations, which is necessary to have real learning outcomes. Learners are incentivised to follow a desired learning behaviour, and once the behaviour becomes a habit, learners will start experiencing better learning outcomes,” says Arjun Nair, Director, Operations and Learning Experience of Great Learning“Over the last three years, we delivered over 4.50 lakh learning hours, and enrollments have grown over 100 times and revenues by more than 20 times,” says Nair.
Drastic change in learning process
Edtech startup TopRankers’ co-founder Gaurav Goel says, “Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in education has brought about a drastic change in the learning process.” On the growth in the general online learning market, he says there has been a significant rise in the online test-prep market as well. “Currently, the test preparation market size stands at over 20 million students, with an annual growth rate of 30-35%. At an average ticket size of Rs 10,000, the market value currently stands at around Rs 20,000 crore,” he says.
The e-learning market is not devoid of challenges. With too many online platforms coming in, challenges are aplenty, including quality of content.
“Quality of content is a huge challenge faced by the e-learning industry in India today. We have built an author network of over 1,000 experts across the world who exclusively write for us. They earn royalties for every minute of course play which incentivises them to build great content and it creates a virtuous cycle from a content quality point of view,” says Arun Rajamani of Pluralsight.
The challenge with most online learning platforms has been low course completion rates, owing to the busy schedules of learners along with low motivation levels to finish a course, says Kashyap Dalal of Simplilearn, adding that they are addressing this issue with its high-touch learning model, a blended mix of instructed led training and self-learning. Also, sustaining learner’s focus is crucial, he adds.
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