International Qualifications With Blended Learning Give An Edge To Students In The Hyper-competitive World: Ramananda SG, Pearson India

BW Education caught up with Ramananda SG, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Pearson India. Excerpts from the interview:

How is Pearson affected by the pandemic?   

The recent COVID-19 pandemic and its ensuing norms of physical distancing has led to a sudden resurgence in e-learning and digital platforms, ensuring that students are able to continue their studies even when they are at home. This rapid growth in the e-learning industry has obviously created a demand for various supporting technologies and in this new normal scenario, Pearson too has been challenged to unlock various learning opportunities for learners as well as educators through our world-class digital learning, content and assessment solutions like Quikik, ActiveApp, MyPedia Alexa, MyInsights etc. to ensure the continuity of learning by making content available anytime and anywhere.  

Additionally, the pandemic has caused major disruption to international student flows as well, affecting almost 73.5% of the student population. In our recent survey, prospective Indian students were asked whether their plans to study abroad were impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and appx. 40% of them said that they intend to delay/defer their entry until next year. However, we are also seeing that while students are looking at delaying their plan until the following year, the majority of them are still persistent on going ahead with their study abroad plans and are finding alternative solutions, looking for other course options, continuing with their preparation  etc.   

How is Pearson tackling the disruption caused by Coronavirus?   

While all this has caused major disruption in the sector, at Pearson we tried to turn the crisis into an opportunity and came together to help students keep their learning curve intact by introducing products and services which were needed at this critical hour. Also, we took care of our employees and stakeholders by sending regular update emails and communication to them regarding the rapidly changing scenario, keeping technology at the helm of it.    

What are the innovations that were made considering the COVID-19 crisis?   

During the lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic, students and educators shifted to online/virtual learning. Firstly, it posed certain challenges for educators who were not proficient in online teaching methodology. Hence, to break this barrier and aid both teachers and students, we took the initiative to upskill teachers in online techniques. We conducted pan-India online sessions and virtually trained over 1000+ teachers from across the country to ensure continuity of learning through digital platforms/devices during Covid-19.  

The trainings were organized through online webinars and till now, we have touched almost 100 schools through conducting these sessions successfully.  

Secondly, the pandemic outbreak postponed major competitive exams like IIT-JEE and NEET. Hence, to aid students in higher education sector and institutes, we announced support in the form of free access to MyInsights Online Mock Test Series to ensure seamless preparation time & resources to the students in the form of personalized digital assessment tool. In line with the government’s efforts towards encouraging students to adequately prepare through mock tests, we supported NEET students and institutes by launching the first-ever All India Online Remote Proctored Test. All India Online Remote Proctored Test was conducted on 13th June which provided exam like ranks for the students.   

Third, for kids, we announced the launch of “Quikik”, AI-based Math learning app which helped students reinforce their math skills feeding 10-14-year old’s appetite with snack-size learning in a fun and engaging manner.     

Give a brief about BTECs.    

International qualifications with blended learning give an edge to students in the hyper-competitive world. Globally recognized qualifications equip students with pragmatic and practical training. And, these hands-on learning experiences open new horizons for higher education and later employment opportunities. It helps in the development of transferable skills that are closely linked with everyday activities.     

A student with an international qualification is guaranteed to possess unique skills and knowledge-set. And one such example of globally recognized qualifications is Pearson’s BTEC that are empowering learners with hands-on practical learning that open doors to international higher education and employability. The unique curriculum helps a student to develop and acquire skills while choosing from a vast array of vocational courses. BTEC curriculum helps in acquiring and developing skills at every stage of academic and age progression. From foundational learning at the high-school level to professional courses at postgraduate level, BTEC combines age-based learning with skills necessary for every step of employability. One can opt for various fields such as Business, Entrepreneurship, Sports, Art & Design, Media, Engineering among others.     

The unique feature of BTECs is the way in which they are taught and assessed. Almost entire training is through project-based assignments which come together to form a unique portfolio for each student by the end of the qualification. These portfolios in themselves act as evidence of learning that the students acquire during their qualification.   

Would you like to suggest some solutions for the students aspiring to study abroad?   

During this time when international travel and overseas education has been postponed, learners can pursue BTEC courses to acquire skills opening doors for international higher education and employability. It is a suitable alternative which will enable learners to continue learning without any interruption. This global qualification which is highly valued internationally will add value to study abroad dreams later by offering progression pathways at appropriate levels in internationally acclaimed universities.  

How are you operating the business in the present circumstance?   

Pearson has been helping its partners deliver some of the generic units through online mode and initiating project-based activities with students. This period has also seen a push in our blended offering through HN Online (available for Business and launching Engineering qualifications in September) and Pearson Learning Hub, our mobile-based platform for courses in Artificial Intelligence, Workplace Behaviours, 21st-century skills etc.  

Do you think that India is prepared for this new normal?   

COVID-19 has led to a major turning point for modern education. With the government rolling out National Education Policy 2020, the education sector is witnessing a historic shift to revolutionize how Indians will gain 21st-century knowledge and skills.

According to a Global Learner Survey by Pearson, learners believe that COVID-19 is revolutionizing education and work. 88% of learners globally say online learning will be a permanent part of primary, secondary and higher education moving forward.     

82% say the pandemic will give rise to new kinds of jobs, and nearly three out of every four say it will result in rethinking of their career paths. As per the findings, 87% of Indian students think online learning will be a part of children's education experience moving forward. 80% say new jobs and skill needs will arise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 77% says COVID-19 pandemic has made them rethink their career path.    

In the new normal, India is set to make progress in its digital journey with a focus towards digital education, soft skills and vocational education as also emphasized in the new National Education Policy.  

Around The World

Our Publications