E- learning In India Is Likely To Grow 8-fold To Become $1.96 billion Industry By 2021: Raghav Gupta, Country Director, Coursera

Raghav Gupta, India Country Director of Coursera, an Ed -tech start-up talks about e-learning gaining prominence, government's push for digital learning and developments taking place in the ed-tech space. Edited Excerpts:

Raghav Gupta, India Country Director of Coursera, an Ed -tech start-up talks about e-learning gaining prominence, government's push for digital learning and developments taking place in the ed-tech space. Edited Excerpts:

How can technology help bridge the skill gap in the employees?

Technological advancements will transform existing jobs and will simultaneously create new jobs. To keep pace with the changes, employees must learn at a rapid speed and in a smart manner. Technology is not just a catalyst but an imperative in the fast-changing job landscape. For the employees to be competitive it is crucial to be able to constantly gain new skills and capabilities and Coursera helps them upskill and stay industry relevant.

We’re experimenting with new personalized learning technology that guides learners to the exact video that addresses the question they answered wrongly on a quiz. In a bandwidth constrained environment, Coursera learners can download the lectures and assignments, and then seamlessly upload them for a grade when bandwidth returns. We are adding more offline features to facilitate on-the-go learning. In the strenuous working culture, such flexibility is hugely valued by learners.

How e-learning is getting its sheen back?

According to a recent report by Google along with KPMG, with the growing smartphones penetration and increasing data speed, the Indian online education sector is likely to grow eightfold to become $ 1.96 billion industry by 2021. Online education has become a major force in democratising access to the best possible higher education the world has to offer. The cost of accessing higher education, especially in learning new age technologies and upcoming fields has been one of the biggest challenges learners encounter. By allowing affordable access, e-learning platforms are enabling people to transform their lives through online education.

In India, e-learning has seen promising results in terms of adoption, course completion, and learner benefits. On the basis of growing acceptance by learners as well as employers, we believe that online learning will soon be on par with traditional means of education.

How govt. push for digital learning will further accentuate the growth of e-learning in India?  

In the next ten years, India is expected to see 100 million new people seeking higher education which is five times the current student enrolment numbers. Unfortunately, we do not have adequate institutions to educate them nor the provisions to build enough to suffice the burgeoning need, and this is where online learning steps in.

Digital India is an impressive initiative by the government which will not only open new options but also provide internet services to 2.5 lakh villages and bring them online through mobiles. Online education is also being pushed with initiatives like SWAYAM, making higher education accessible to anyone who has the zeal to learn from any corner of the country.

How can Coursera help transform the Indian education sector?

Over the past two years, we have built a significant presence in India and the country is one of our fastest-growing markets and the second-largest both in terms of learners and revenue (after the US). Coursera platform has over 2.5 million registered learners in India out of a total of 29 million globally. India adds 60,000 learners every month.

Coursera offers a breadth of high quality and affordable online courses with the required flexibility to professionals with anytime anywhere access. We also have courses on our platform addressing the current and future practical needs of employers such as courses on AI, data science, programming, machine learning along with courses teaching soft skills.

How has AI been used in the education system?

With the rise of AI tools, which have been invented in the last two years, several processes can now be automated. Clearly, there are a lot of opportunities for automation going forward and we will soon have to rethink our educational system. Other emerging technologies like VR, IoT, AR are also impacting the delivery and creation of content. VR has already found its way into classrooms and learning spaces, with early tech adopting schools in the west having students strapping on VR headsets for parts of their class.

Lack of assessments or personalisation left a big gap in the learning experience for most learners. At Coursera, in the last few years, we’ve invested heavily in technology to solve the assessment problem at scale. It ranges from scaling peer review to Automatic Grading, and interactive feedback with Executable Code Block.

The other big tool we use is big data. Every day, we track millions of interactions of our learners with our product. With this huge amount of data, we continuously run experiments to validate the behaviors of learning and improve our platform on a daily basis. By analyzing the data, we can also provide very specific feedback to the instructors to improve their content.

What are the new developments taking place in the Ed-tech industry?

The ed-tech sector is entering a new era of learning on the go through mobile devices. We are leading this trend, introducing advanced features making it seamless for learners who use their commute time for learning.  We believe that along with the tech and business skills, soft skills will become increasingly valuable, and courses like speaking and presenting, critical thinking, leadership, team management, design thinking and writing will see great traction.

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