In a survey conducted by KPMG India in 2017, India’s online education market is set to grow to 9.6 million users by 2021. These numbers are proof enough to convince those who have apprehensions about learning through the internet. Students today are using online learning platforms for various reasons. Some use it to keep themselves informed of industry trends, supplement their school or higher education degrees, some use it to upskill themselves to be job ready, whereas some use it as their primary source of learning. According to a survey conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 30% of India between the age group of 15-29 are neither enrolled in a school or college or any skill training program nor are employed. On reading these staggering statistics, it is clear about the potential opportunity that lies for students to take advantage of the online medium of learning.
With the increase in internet penetration and availability of cheap data plans and smartphones, students and adults have everything that they need with a single tap on their phone screen. The KMPG India study conducted in 2017 found out that perceived convenience, flexible commencement dates and a variety of study material were the top motivators for students to adopt online channels for their learning. On comparing this to the traditional brick and mortar educational institutions where attendance and fixed start and finish dates govern the style of the program, students find themselves forced to give up one aspect of their life in order to join a full-time degree or a program in an educational institution. But in the digital age that we live in, where multi-tasking is seen to be an asset or a must-have skill, online learning platforms provide an opportunity for students to work while they study, pause and resume their course according to their pace without altering any other significant aspect of their life.
In the same study conducted by KMPG India, it was also found that online programs aimed at coaching students in the preparation of competitive examinations will be the fastest growing category in online education by 2021. Competition in education is aggressive, intense and can be dizzyingly overwhelming which is something all students in India are familiar with. Whether it is the JEE for an engineering seat or the NEET for students preparing for a career in the medical or dental sciences or the UPSC examination which acts as a passport into Civil Services in India, there are lakhs of students competing for a mere 10% of the seats that exist for these programs. Understanding the intensity of this competition, online learning platforms strive to provide the great quality content, a virtual classroom experience, practice tests and tips and tricks that students find beneficial in order to successfully crack the exam. IAS aspirants can study from the comfort of their homes, through IAS online coaching programs offered by e-learning platforms like NeoStencil. IAS aspirants are known to move to Delhi which boasts about having the best coaching institutes, access to the best faculty and a great learning environment for students. But due to the rapid development of eLearning platforms, students can access IAS online coaching from the comfort of their home, where they can study at their own pace.
Due to its cost, students in India can access eLearning content from anywhere and study with peers from all backgrounds. A student from a government school in Odisha can have a classmate who is studying in a premier school in Gurgaon or a young entrepreneur in Brazil. Since eLearning is not bound by geographies, students benefit from the abundance of possibilities that they are exposed to and the large peer network that they can build.
In a country like India, where illiteracy, unemployment, and poverty form a vicious circle, eLearning poses to be an answer which can solve at least one out these three problems, thereby possibly eliminating the others gradually. Today when the focus is on skill development and not rote learning and gathering degrees, eLearning offers a solution. Online learning platforms can offer a cheaper solution to the government who may avoid spending crores of rupees on setting up infrastructure for schools and instead use the money for other development projects. Online learning platforms could possibly provide good quality K-12 education which students can access on their smartphones and learn at their own pace. This could reach the millions who only dream of going to schools, but aren’t able to do so either because they cannot afford it or don’t have a school near their homes. We believe eLearning can help achieve India’s goal of 100% literacy a reality, that is when every student in India will benefit from this boon that mankind has created.