e-Learning to Supplement the Huge Shortfall of Trained Teachers : Pramod Khera, Chief Executive Officer, Aptech Ltd

Would you give a brief overview of Aptech business model?
Aptech is in the business of Education and training and has two sets of businesses – retail education businesses and corporate businesses. The retail
businesses include IT and animation education and training (Aptech Computer Education and Arena Animation), and aviation training (Avalon Aviation Academy). The corporate businesses comprise of offshore learning content development (Aptech Learning Services); e-Learning (Onlinevarsity.com); training and assessments solution for corporates and institutions (Aptech Training Solutions and ATTEST) and developer training and consultancy (Synergetics). Aptech commenced its IT education and training business in 1986 and has trained over 4.5 million students – globally. Aptech is an ISO 9001:2000 organisation and the fi rst IT training and Education Support Services in 1993.

What are the core products and and services of Aptech in the domain ofe-Education? What specifi c issues within this sector that you think your product can address?
We are into content creation, with subject matter experts and instructional designers creating content from scratch for synchronous and asynchronous instructional programmes that are delivered in electronic and face to face modes. Developers tranform the client’s legacy content to e-Learning courseware, such as CBT, WBT, or e- Publications. As the content converstion service, the programmers convert the client’s legacy courseware typically print to electronic media. Under the content localisation service, translators convert legacy courseware, usually english, to the required languages. Wherever required, multimedia objects are modifi ed to suit the local cultural preferences. We also have e-Publishing service for which the writers and artists
convert conventionally published content into electronic books, printon- demand, electronic link, e-mail publishing, wireless publishing, and  web publishing.

How far the Aptech education products have been able to position this leading training provider uniquely in the market? What do your think you have an edge over others?
Do you face the force of competition in any means? If yes, please describe it. Aptech has over 18 calendar years of instructional design experience in delivering learner-centric content and instructional kits across diverse demographic and psychographic audience profi les. Aptech’s costeffective, innovative, and businessaligned learning solutions focus on productivity and learning enhancements, besides minimising recurring costs of courseware maintenance. Our time tested quality practices are aligned toward client benefi t, and that gives us the edge over others. Aptech project management practices are guided by a partnership approach. Client-driven capacity and process scale-up is enabled by continuous fl ow of skilled resources through Aptech’s education and training arm.

As an education and IT training provider, do you ever try to learn whether e-Learners understand and  apply what they have learned?Have you ever carried out any kind of study in this line? Will e-Learning replace instructor-led learning in future? For all our client engagements, we have a post-implementation feedback phase wherein we try to assess the effi ciency of learning of the participants and take corrective action wherever necessary. No study has been conducted on this, but our experience has been that when the participants are self-motivated, the learning effi ciency of e-Learning is very high instructor-led learning. As mentioned students need to be constantly  motivated to learn and a class-room environment goes a long way in ensuring this. Especially in the case of young learners, where self-motivation to learn is
lacking, a class-room environment is most effective. With the Aptech University, the company ventured into the mainstream academia. What prompted for this venture, when Aptech is more known as a strong training provider in the non formal sector? What are the other expansion areas? Aptech offers career courses to its students and prepares them for jobs. While Aptech ACCP and AAASP certifi cates are well-recognised in the industry for jobs, it does not give the student a degree and a qualifi cation after which they can pursue further academic studies. Hence, Aptech decided to get into formal education by setting up a university. Other areas where Aptech is currently building new businesses are on-line testing (under the brand name of Attest) and Aviation Training (Branded as Avalon). Today, every move you make, every investment you make, is tracked; there are people who jump into the bandwagon, whether you like it or not.

Does that pressurise you? Does the performance anxiety pressurise you?
In today’s competitive environment, this is true for all businesses – more so for education sector as this is increasingly being viewed as a very lucrative industry. With over 20 years of experience in the education sector, Aptech has an edge over competitors as it has a well-established brand name in education and has perfected its core competencies in content development and network management. We welcome competition as it keeps us on our toes and motivates us to continuously look at raising the bar for the quality of our services.
What in your opinion is driving the e-Learning market in India? How do you see this market growing in next few years?
e-Learning is ideally suited for offering training/education in a distributed environment and for the corporate  ector. With organisations scaling up and expanding into multiple geographies, e-Learning is increasingly being perceived as the ideal tool for training. Also, there is a huge shortfall of trained
teachers and with the increasing demand for education and training, e-Learning is being used as a de-skilling tool for faculty. With teaching being supplemented by e-Leaning the face-toface instructors are becoming more of facilitators than teachers. Apart from selling of content and license fees what other options are
there for Aptech revenue generation?

What is the purpose of forming an education society under Aptech
Aptech has an e-Learning site called onlinevarsity.com where we have students coming in and enrolling for an e-Learning course. In addition, we are increasingly adopting e-Learning to teach our students in over 1000 centres in 35 countries in a hybrid model of education. The education society was set up to  venture into formal sector of education. Have you ever tried to read the
e-Learning market in India in terms of potentials, chances for deep penetration, proving the winning status to your company, etc.?
do you fi nd your company in this evaluation, if actually did?
We have looked at the e-Learning market more as a hybrid market for the delivery of education. We are increasingly using e-Learning as part of our overall delivery process for all our courses. Going forward, we see more and more of technology enablement happening in the delivery of education.
Where do you see e-Learning in India
after fi ve years? What is your gameplan to set the ball rolling with a matching speed with the market?
Increasingly e-Learning is becoming important in the Indian context. It is very diffi cult to predict what percentage of teaching is going to happen through e-Learning, but being one of the pioneers in e-Learning and also one of the largest private sector education companies, we defi nitely see e-Learning as an integral component of our growth strategy and have planned accordingly

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