Even as people increasingly embrace online learning, brick-and-mortar institutions remain the first choice for many. For some, it’s a matter of familiarity. They want what they have been used to, packaged in digital content. For others, it’s just about working through what’s best. So businesses must master both the online and offline aspects of the user journey in education, especially as the traditional education funnel continues to evolve.
The offline to online transformation
Digital technology has empowered us to tap into new markets in the education sector. Edtech companies can enable mainstream schools with online teaching-learning processes along with academic operations. Companies are on the constant move to think up cost-and-time efficient tools that put the users first.
Despite the challenges through the pandemic, educators and learners have shown remarkable resilience. Online classes, live doubt-clearing sessions, learning management systems, mobile applications, e-books, tablets, and many other learning tools and platforms. Revolution is well underway, for the industry to shift from the traditional classroom-based model to a comprehensive interactive online classroom model.
Industry-grade data security is of utmost importance as we navigate this transition. Educators are on the lookout for minimal or nearly absent costs in free resources and platforms. Besides, online classes, comprehensive solutions that meet all-in-one academic needs, like assignments, online tests, evaluations, and more, through learning management systems. This transformation simplifies the academic operations and empowers teachers to assign homework and conduct and evaluate assignments within the safety of their homes, making online teaching-learning a collaborative and interactive process.
Fish where the fish are
Digital learning is here to stay. But the big question is: How do we leverage it to the maximum extent?
A synergistic combination of online and offline learning is no doubt the thumb-rule today. But to what extent and in which formats? This benefits the skill development of educators and a personalized experience for students. Post-COVID pedagogy calls for effective utilization of time. In the long run. This implies a shift from rote learning to a more interactive syllabus and holistic development of students. The only way to do it right is through partnerships with edtech service providers.
A study by BARC India and Nielsen reports a 30 percent increase in the time spent on education apps on smartphones since the lockdown. And a SimilarWeb survey showed that the edtech market segment saw an increase in user visits by 26 percent between April 2019 and March 2020, when compared with the same period between 2018-19. But once we overcome the outbreak, what does the future look like?
Classroom learning aids won’t suffice, Meaningful education in the future means schools must adopt online learning solutions integrated with the traditional classroom approach. Student engagement, active learning, and learning management systems are about to become matter-of-fact. Users will place a huge premium on a collaborative learning environment while the access to education itself will be more democratized.
Hybrid models on the rise
As hybrid models of education rise, cost-time efficient trends also increase. This ensures increased enjoyment and flexibility for learners across all age-groups.
A few trends:
- Phygital learning spaces are a new market to crack with technology making education more sustainable and inclusive.
- Personalized experiences through augmented reality are gaining popularity.
- Self-directed learning is making sufficient leaps in higher education, especially through the phases of quarantine and lockdown this year.
IIM-B, Professor Pulak Ghosh conceded that discussions become tough in online environments as the digital divide is not completely erased through edtech. But he agreed that the change calls for a mixed classroom where some classes may migrate permanently online.
Besides online classes, educators need to take real-time feedback through methods like cold-calling, raise hands, polling, or questions. Virtual break-out rooms are also crucial to peer interactions and academic social life. Online discussion forums are also seeing great traction as virtual guest faculty host webinars and lectures and the sharing of free educational resources becomes routine. These platforms complement independent learning. So the question since March 2020 never has been about the supremacy of online or offline modes. Competing forces will have to adapt the design, delivery, evaluation, edtech partnerships, operation, and business models.
The opportunity in the chaos
While these new heights are dizzying, rapid adoption and penetration haven’t necessarily been smooth and simple. Not even for the best laid out blueprints for change. While growth is massive, there are acute challenges in sustainability, infrastructure, and retention of customers.
Startups like Simplilearn, Toppr, Cuemath, Testbook turn to platforms like WebEngage to grapple with retention of customers. In 2019, TRAI reported that the total number of internet subscribers increased from over 665 M in June to over 687 M by September. While this is good news, there’s also a big challenge in infrastructure: internet access, laptops, and tech with optimal screen size to name a few.
The report also revealed that a large chunk of the total online education space will be captured by K-12 startups, which are now growing at a CAGR of 60%. A key driver of this growth is ‘engagement’. Digital natives and the Gen Z audience have a natural propensity to be connected on platforms and communities online. To solve this, Cuemath for example is working on replicating the best of both worlds, online and offline, through group study sessions, peer-to-peer learning, leaderboards, etc.
As the nature of education itself morphs through technology and digitization, user experience reigns supreme.
Going tech is not merely the next thing to strike off a to-do list. It includes reassessing user-needs, personas, finding a great product-market fit, drawing relevant insights from the data we have, and simplifying it for every stakeholder.
We at thinksynq would like to close with a few questions for you to mull over. They apply to various stakeholders in the edtech space:
- What do I need more in my portfolio offerings for my audience?
- Who has the right answers for my challenges but I may not be considering them?
- What are we ignoring today that will seem shockingly obvious in a year?