India has one of the largest education systems, with some 320 million young learners. During the pandemic, education underwent an overhaul in this country, but now schools have reopened. This means that children now have little time to study online and parents are ready to go back to old ways of studying.
This, and other reasons, pose a challenge to online education businesses that have thrived during the pandemic. Every quarter, EdTech platforms are expected to experience a drop in activity.
Read more: COVID EdTech Learnings: Fluency-Based Learning, Hinglish Content, Teacher Development, and Blended Instruction
Has the reopening of schools become a challenge for the Indian EdTech industry? Was online education just a bubble that burst or will it recover from the current downturn in business?
The tech panda asked two EdTech entrepreneurs what was happening with the EdTech sector and if there was any danger of the sector shrinking.
“As the world returns to normal after the pandemic, parents have realized that pure online lectures are no longer the right chord for good learning with students,” says Vivek Varshney, founder of SpeEdLabs.
As the world returns to normal after the pandemic, parents have realized that pure online conferencing is no longer up to snuff for good learning with students
“Due to the lack of interaction, personalization and coordination between students and teachers, the 100% online mode is inefficient. As a result, several well-funded online tutoring startups are closing their doors, and even in the B2B space, the traction of unlimited online courses and recorded lectures – which was the main value proposition offered by ERP platforms and Basic LMS – slowly fades away,” he explains.
After being introduced to the online education mode, students are looking for analytics-based impact solutions that will offer personalized feedback and contributions to help them improve their studies and achieve more results.
“This requires a renewed approach to a blended and hybrid learning model. The next wave of innovation must be geared towards academic improvement with a mix of personalized learning experience and data analytics,” he adds.
Sharad Bansal, co-founder of Tinkerly, says EdTech has its own segments, and in his opinion, each will have a different impact from the pandemic or the reopening of schools. He explains with examples.
It will be difficult to sustain the growth of models that replaced schools or tuition fees
“As of now, the majority of schools are reopened. Thus, offline learning will continue to be part of the future of academic subjects taught in schools. Supporting the growth of models that replaced schools or tuition fees will be difficult,” he says of the academics.
He explains that test preparation is a segment that will grow in combination with offline.
“Some major EdTech players like Byjus have opened offline centers, Unacademy has opened their experience centers, both have gained a fair share of the digital market and are now going offline for deeper local penetration. is therefore the segment that will grow in the mixed form.
Another area of growth, he says, is India’s tier 2 and 3, resulting from a lack of quality education or not.
“Co-curricular K12, online quality solutions are not available locally (no local competition). Although the growth of the tier 1 niche market might not be as high, in a tier 2 city like Gwalior it is very difficult to find a coding/robotics teacher in your locality. Thus, Tinkerly or similar companies offering curated deals for Bharat users are about to grow exponentially.
“Online courses allow a student from a public school in a small town to be on the same level as an IB student in terms of technical skills. Parents, who have faced this disparity themselves, realize the value of these skills and are willing to invest in them,” he says.
Offline or online: what do parents want?
Despite the conveniences of online teaching, real-time connection in an offline classroom means more control over a classroom environment. Online education largely includes online courses, which are not the most effective way of learning.
Varshney explains that the parents realized this during the pandemic, but since there was no alternative, they accepted the online conferences.
There is no supervision, control, interaction, connection between teachers and students, lack of self-discipline. Therefore, parents send their children for offline engagement for their education
“As we return to normal, parents want their children to opt for offline tutoring. There is no supervision, control, interaction, connection between teachers and students, lack of self-discipline. Therefore, parents are sending their children for offline engagement for their education – be it coaching centers or private tutoring at home,” he says.
“Offline courses are back and people have understood the instrumental role of physical connection, comprehensive progress tracking, real-time questions/check-ins, peer-to-peer learning and the overall learning environment it offers,” he added.
Another point in favor of offline conferences is the lack of distractions on social networks like YouTube.
On the other hand, online learning can be profitable, a factor that Bansal sees as the reason why parents are inclined towards online learning.
I believe that parents are eager to teach their children new-age skills that go beyond academics. Most of the online solutions are of very high quality and user-friendly which increases the inclination of Indian parents towards online studies.
“According to studies, it appeared that the main objective of Indian parents is that they want their children to build successful careers. However, at the same time, they are price sensitive,” he says.
“During the time of the pandemic, parents have experienced the power of online learning. Since technologies like AI and automation are in high demand, they understand that online courses in these skills such as coding, robotics and AI can prepare their child for the jobs of the future.
“In my personal opinion, based on market research, I believe that parents want to teach their children new-age skills that go beyond academics. Most of the online solutions are of very high quality and user-friendly which increases the inclination of Indian parents towards online studies,” he adds.
Why Some EdTechs Don’t Work
With the return of offline schooling, EdTech platforms are expected to experience a quarterly decline in activity. Several EdTech platforms are not growing at the rate they were growing during COVID.
Bansal says it is normal due to base effect and other reasons as well. For example, some new entrants in marketing offer more options and price competition, while some offerings are not tailored for the affordable segment. Additionally, fund inflows have slowed in the market.
Big EdTech companies need to offer affordable vernacular courses and lightweight mobile-friendly solutions. They can possibly partner with regional players or young startups that have already developed such products or channels
“During COVID, as demand increased, supply was limited. So bigger brands like Byjus and Unacademy were able to grow despite their premium prices and widespread offering. But Indian customers are smart and now parents are making more informed decisions to choose the right product for their children,” he says.
He cites the example of relatively new online test prep companies like Physics Wallah and Utkarsh classes app, which have targeted the low-cost market and experienced phenomenal growth.
Platforms like Tinkerly adopted unique distribution channels to enter the Tier 2 market with a vernacular offering, and in just 2 months, over 60% of its users came from this market.
“Big EdTech companies need to offer affordable vernacular courses and lightweight mobile-friendly solutions. They can possibly join forces with regional players or young start-ups that have already developed such products or sectors,” he advises.
Varshney explains that many EdTech platforms have not offered all the elements of EdTech and therefore face short-term success.
In the long term, the problem to be solved is that of raising the scores and developing the aptitudes of the pupils. Many investors funded companies that followed the trend caused by the pandemic and solved problems with the wrong approach
“If we consider the term EdTech to be synonymous with recorded online courses, that oversimplifies the overall service and doesn’t provide the real picture. Edtech has different elements in the process,” he explains.
He explains that lectures are only 25% of the online process, with the remaining 75% including online self-study, revisions, improvement plans, assignments, tests, analytical feedback and Evaluation.
Read more: It’s time for coding to enter the post-pandemic K-12 EdTech sector
“All of these are elements of EdTech, and no major player has made a foray into these aspects. Most of the existing players have gone for simple tools like recorded lectures and online lessons. also prosecuted, and that is why more than 100 companies have closed, which wanted to operate in a purely online format despite significant funding,” he says.
“Ultimately, the problem to be solved is the rise in grades and the development of students’ skills. Many investors funded companies that were following the trend caused by the pandemic and solving problems with the wrong approach,” he adds.