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The future of online education in India
There was a time when exams meant students huddled into classrooms with pen-and-paper tests while stern invigilators/proctors paced the exam halls. Today thousands of students in India are taking their exams on their laptops, sitting at home. While sophisticated AI tools do the proctoring. Just one example of how much education technology (Edtech) has evolved.
At the Eruditus group, I lead two business units — the Emeritus Global Business and Eruditus India Schools Business. Our mission is to to bring high quality education to people across the world. We create world-class online courses in partnership with some of the most reputed universities in the world – Harvard, Wharton, Columbia, IIT, IIM – and enable students from across the world to access these courses. What is exciting about the Eruditus group is how global we are : we have students from across the world and offices in all the major regions of the world.
The ongoing COVID–19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards online education and it brings with it a new set of opportunities as well as challenges. Many of the Indian institutions that we are working with have found that students seem to like the online experience and find it convenient. A much larger segment of people is experiencing online education for the first time and the opportunity is in expanding that. The second thing is that in emerging markets it is not easy to replicate the US model of having multiple universities with massive campuses—lack of space, infrastructure, and transport are some of the limitations. So going the online route is the biggest opportunity in these markets. One of the challenges is that employers still see online education as not as good as classroom education. We are working to change that perception. And there is a lot of opportunity to bring in innovations like AR/VR and telepresence to enrich the learning experience.
As a leader, I have realised that business success is so dependent on having a high quality team. So a substantial amount of my time and thinking goes into hiring and grooming talent. One of the key things I look at when hiring someone is whether the person has achievement orientation and whether it can be measured by their accomplishments. The second thing is imagination, especially in roles like marketing. Do they have ideas and imagination beyond the regular work that they do? The third element is, of course, competence. This is an easier box to tick especially in the Indian context because our basic selection process makes sure we get people who are at a certain level of experience, but the other two are the critical things when I look at hiring talent.
Over the next 10 years, our goal is to expand reach to high-quality education to every segment and every geography. This needs some innovative solutions; for example, we have seen that in emerging countries including India, most students find it challenging to fund their programs. We are solving that by partnering with loan providers and helping them automate their processes so that students can access loans easily. Another innovation is in the program content itself where we are bringing students into the world of digital transformation, business analytics, design thinking, fintech, etc. We have also brought in global industry practitioners as part of the programs, which really offers a different perspective and helps our students open up to other possibilities. Our vision for 2030 is to scale up across every geography and truly democratize the access to quality education.
This article first appeared on LinkedIn Pulse