Challenges And Potential Solutions For EdTech Firms In India
With high sociological as well as economic disparity, India can find EdTech particularly helpful in taking quality education to every town and village. With high-speed internet and smartphones no longer a luxury and a vast population to be catered to at every level, India presents the great opportunity for EdTech.
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Over the last two decades, EdTech, or educational technology, solutions have improved the efficiency, efficacy, and quality of disseminating as well as acquiring education. While the change we witnessed may seem overwhelming, the fact is that we have only scratched the surface and the future will see far greater deployment of EdTech solutions as artificial intelligence techniques in general and machine learning as well as deep learning solutions, in particular, shall analyze user behavior to make educational solutions a lot more personalized and effective.
Here is an examination of the key challenges and the respective potential solutions for the EdTech firm.
The absence of intellectual property protection
With lack of solid intellectual property protection laws and a practical absence of their deployment, India finds its content creators, in all genres, struggling for protecting their intellectual property. The key value of educational firms, including EdTech enterprises, lies in their content. While technology makes it easy to penetrate content, it also makes piracy super easy- a serious challenge faced by all EdTech firms operating in India. How we have tried to address this challenge is by making the software experience overwhelming and employing serious analytics-driven personalization; hence, a learner buys our applications not only for the content but also, and often mainly so, for the user experience and personalized learning experience on the basis of one’s behavior and performance on the tool.
The notion that internet-based services are free
Internet-based services come with a notion of being “free”; although this perception is prevalent worldwide, it is significantly stronger in India. While users are generally willing to pay for buying a book or for subscribing for public libraries, only a small proportion of them are equally inclined on paying for an e-book or educational software. Although the perception is gradually changing with paid subscriptions such as NetFlix going popular, the cultural shift in mindset will take serious time. Thus, for EdTech companies, particularly those building B2C solutions, this aspect shall remain a serious challenge for the next few years. How most internet product based companies, including us, address this challenge is by offering a free trial for a significant, though limited period. This way, a user gains confidence in the solution, gets a fair idea of what one is paying for, and buys only when one finds it useful- after all, any genuine entrepreneur must want a user to pay for one’s product only when one finds true value in it.
While India has come a long way in bringing internet availability and hosts 460 million users, a number 50% greater than the total population of the United States, quality and speed of services remain a serious concern in most part of its vast geography. EdTech solutions generally require high bandwidth as video buffering and strong analytics are often key to such applications. For example, of the total problems we receive from users, ~95% have to do with the internet speed at the user-end, something that we have no control over. The pairing of high-speed internet and a robust device (computer of a smartphone) are essential for an EdTech product to work and India is yet to fully commoditize this pairing to its vast population. EdTech firms can handle this challenge by gradually adapting with the change and bringing in a feature when the target audience has the means for utilizing the same. For example, while we built our first EdTech solution in 2008, we introduced videos only in 2013 when video buffering was no longer a rarity.
Resistance for change
Blame the human embryo, we are all resistant to change and most of us are more so, in matters of technology. One of the prime challenges faced by EdTech firms is to convince the users, and especially the stakeholders of the potential client institutions, to leave the older ways and adopt the newer, technology-driven solutions. EdTech entrepreneurs must address this challenge by understanding the counter-view and thinking from the stakeholder’s perspective. A firm must then develop and present sound efficacy comparison and financial analysis to convince a stakeholder to change the status quo and embrace a technology-based solution.
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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