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COVID-19 Set The Ground For EdTechs To Shine

The edtechs firms witnessed a massive level of online learning engagement on their platforms post the virus outbreak.

If there were still believers left who did not appreciate the importance of new technologies in education, then certainly the outbreak of the COVID-19, and the challenges it brought along in the last few months have forced them to change their minds. The outbreak of coronavirus, followed by nationwide lockdown resulted in the closure of schools and universities around the world, forcing educational institutes to rapidly switch to remote online teaching-learning methods. This empowered edtech players to position themselves as frontline emergency solution providers in the education system. 

Edtech players like never before  

For those who thought edtech players have been ‘disruptive’ force in the education system, this ongoing coronavirus crisis completely changed their viewpoint with edtechs emerging as a palliative solution. The edtechs firms witnessed a massive level of online learning engagement on their platforms post the virus outbreak. According to a report by BARC India and Nielsen, there has been a 30 per cent increase in the time spent on education apps since the lockdown commenced. The pandemic came as a moment to shine for these edtech players. Several edtech organizations sought up to unlock new opportunities and offer novel solutions to bridge the gap in terms of virtual teaching and learning. They have come up with efficient and user-friendly tools and platforms like online classes, live doubt-clearing sessions, language apps, live teachers training sessions, learning management systems, mobile applications, e-books, tablets and many other learning tools and platforms.  

Not just virtual classes, the edtech players are also offering solutions that meet all the academic and administrative needs – online assignments, and evaluation and report generation.  

Several Edtech organizations have also partnered with several state governments, NGOs, and schools to ensure continuity of education in the middle of this pandemic. Also, last month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a line of new initiatives to boost the growth of online education in the country amid the COVID-19 crisis. The announcement of 12 new TV channels (one for each grade in K12)  – a step towards increasing the reach of educational content for Indian households, especially the ones which lack access of high-speed internet connection for unhindered consumption of learning content. All of this is being done to ensure students and teachers are safe in their homes.  

Initial challenges 

While this pandemic is certainly providing a ground of opportunities for the edtechs, it did come as a major challenge for the teachers to suddenly switch from offline to online teaching-learning module. The educational institutes were suddenly forced to embrace technology due to COVID-19 lockdown. This became painful for the students but more for the teachers to adapt to this virtual classroom as the new reality. The edtech organizations did not waste a moment and decided to help these teachers learn new ways to teach in an online environment. Most of them conducted a training session on online pedagogy for teachers of various private and state board schools across India.  

How does the future look like? 

While some believe that the unplanned and sudden switch to online learning – with no training, insufficient bandwidth, and little preparation – will result in a poor user experience that is not conducive to sustained growth, others believe that a new hybrid model of education will emerge, with significant benefits. Teaching-learning solutions provided by these edtechs ensure that students learn, despite any hindrance, and even when they are not able to go to school. The flexibility that virtual learning allows will enhance accessibility for a large number of students in the country. As social distancing is an important factor to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, it is difficult to conduct physical classroom sessions packed with students too soon until definite solutions such as a vaccine are available to fight the virus. Hence, students, teachers, parents and edtech entrepreneurs across the country are bracing themselves for the ‘new normal’ in education. Further, the policymakers should also explore how digital education and virtual learning can be expanded to enhance its reach to a large number of students, particularly those from less affluent ‘one device or less’ families. COVID-19 has enabled the education sector to realise the potential of digital learning. Thus, it is time to hit the reset button and accept the new normal.   

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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