e-Learning will continue to grow in India

Anand NagarajanDespite, the e-Learning market in India being a fragmented one on both the opportunity and the solution provider side, it is poised for growth, Dexler Information Solutions CEO Anand Nagarajan says

Please tell us about the online education market in India.

The e-Learning market in India is still in its nascent stages, and is primarily a fragmented market on both the opportunity and the solution provider side. On the provider side, it is led by players who either provide LMS-es/technology platform or content or assessment solutions. On the opportunity side, there are focused opportunities like K-12, test prep (GMAT, GRE, IIT-JEE etc) or Financial, Management and Medical education. The diversity in the opportunities permits mushrooming players to find a place even though the market is fragmented.

Which category of students opts more for e-Learning courses?

In professional education (retail), SAP education has established an e-Academy ecosystem. While the content is available online, it can be accessed only from an education partner location. The entire experience has been enhanced by providing ability for real time subject matter support.

In the K-12 segment, digital solutions like smart boards and eContent have become the norm. With a host of players, these solutions are now common in most schools.

In the higher education segment, the adoption of e-Learning is still low. certification programmes see higher acceptance than programmes with no or weak certification. This is linked to employability.

There are institutions of higher education that have been early movers, while some are still skeptical about students adopting e-Learning. Colleges that embed the courses as a part of their curriculum and design their learning around e-Learning will see higher success than those who adopt a “digital library” approach.

Considering the digital divide in our country, how effective is e-Learning in reaching out to the rural or backward areas?

e-Learning is the solution to addressing the GER ambitions of the country. It can ensure that quality education is available at scale and beats the challenges of shortage of faculty and reach. Each market has different issues that need to be sorted out. Basic infrastructure challenges still pose a real threat to mass adoption. Overcoming these challenges will provide innumerable opportunities for solution providers.

How beneficial is learning in a virtual classroom?

Virtual classrooms can provide instant scale of delivery. If used properly in an e-Learning programme, they can prove to be very effective. Earlier solutions needed expensive and dedicated connectivity. This made them commercially unviable due to the huge cost of delivery. In today’s market, there are far more cost effective solutions that use the existing Internet connections. This reduces the cost drastically.

Where do you see the online education market in the next few years?

The online education market will continue to grow in India. Over the next few years, there will be a push to consolidate among sub-scale players. There have been over 300 venture capital/private equity deals in the education space since 2010. The investors will need exits soon. Not many of the funded companies have scale to list in public markets and hence, will have to look at more strategic options.

It can be assumed that new entrants will continue to look at micro markets. The larger players will look at expanding beyond their current “strong holds” into adjacent areas. For example, K-12 players will look at larger push in higher education markets, and assessment solution companies will look at offering content solutions etc.