Educational technology or Edutech is the study and practice of facilitating and improving learning through different technology. The edutech industry has seen significant growth in recent years. Vikas Kakwani, founder, AAS Vidyalaya, explores the scope and future of edutech industry for Elets News Network (ENN).
Just like we remember 1969 for the movie, ‘2001 – A Space Odyssey’ that defined the future of communications, or ‘1984’ as the book by George Orwell that gave us a glimpse of the ‘Big Brother’ which we know as ‘Internet’ today, 2018 will be remembered as a milestone year for Ed-tech a decade from now as this would be the year which would see all ducks coming in a line to revolutionize e-learning.
A lot has happened over the last decade or so in the effort to use technology as a medium to educate or train people however just like all ingredients are needed to make a perfect dish, all elements from devices, connectivity, products, marketing and content to tech-savvy teachers and willing to experiment students and parents are all in place to bring in a revolution to the way education is imparted and consumed.
Just like a mobile phone increased the connectivity exponentially from 3% that we achieved with landlines to almost 100% today, a smartphone is here to take the ‘computer’ penetration from 12-13% to around 60-70% in another couple years (Source: CISCO). E-learning will break out from the bondage of a computer or a laptop to being in everyone’s hands this year. 2017 saw the emergence of 4G, thanks to Jio, that gave everyone 1Gb 4G data every day for just Rs 10. Together with Micromax Bharat II, a 4G smartphone that sells for a paltry Rs 3500, one is all equipped to learn anytime anywhere. 5G testing will happen in India in 2018 which will open further doors to richer, more robust products. Broadband speed in India at 18.8 Mbps (Source: Ookla) while still has a long way to go, was the most improved in the world (76.9% increase over the previous year).
Today’s e-learning is predominantly video with only a couple of enterprises which have started experimenting with AR (Augmented Reality). This year will see a lot of AR and a little bit of VR (Virtual Reality) being experimented which still has a couple of years to go before it starts getting mainstream.
2018 will see the trickle down of e-learning which is till now only restricted to people who already have access to good education. This year companies like AAS Vidyalaya will take e-learning to children who are unable to go to regular school due to various genuine reasons. A 12-13 year able-bodied boy is expected to help his farmer Father in the fields that force him to drop out of school or a girl who has completed primary school in her village is unable to go to the secondary school since it is 10 km away. This year will see schooling being redefined as wall-and-roof schools give way to online schools.
With a number of e-learning ventures getting substantial funding, we see a lot of moolah being spent on advertising that focusses on ‘educating’ people that online platforms are an acceptable medium to acquire learning. We will witness a big shift in the people’s mindset including both the educationists and students in adopting e-learning as part of their lives.
Just like 2017 was the year that we will remember as the year that brought in “live streaming” of entertainment which too rode on broadband and 4G networks, 2018 might be the year that brings about the Tipping point for e-learning which could lead to exponential increase in the number of content providers, coaches, and students. E-learning offers too many advantages. It is here to stay.