In a class of its own

July 18, 2011
You are an IIT-aspirant living in a remote corner of India and you want access to quality teachers/lectures and learning tools? Or you missed the Algebra class in school and you wish to make up.

Wish granted, at the click of a mouse!

Years ago, this might have been just a dream. Not any more. Technology-enabled learning or virtual learning has provided an environment where teacher and student do not have to be in the same place at the same time, in order to interact.

Thanks to better connectivity and an array of solutions in the market, nearly 10 million students have logged into online classrooms in India run by the likes Educomp Solutions Ltd. Not surprisingly, such companies have been quick to tap the online learning opportunity and have come out with a slew of offerings to create awareness among students.

The opportunity size

Given the vast numbers of students and challenges of delivery, the Indian education landscape is well placed to adopt technology-enabled learning. With 673 million (60 per cent) of the population below 30 years of age (median age: 25 years), the sector has immense potential. From $28 billion today, the Indian education sector is expected to grow to $47 billion over five-six years.

The digital opportunity is undeniable. In a big boost to tech initiatives, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is encouraging schools to use "Digital Content Materials" in classroom teaching.

The CBSE has advised all its affiliated schools to set-up at least one ICT-enabled classroom for each grade, from I through XII. Further, schools are encouraged to progressively increase the number of classrooms with digital content and move towards enabling every single classroom with such learning infrastructure, Shantanu Prakash, founder and CEO, Educomp Solutions Ltd, said in a recent conference call with analysts.

The online advantage

All the online players claim that one advantage over physical classrooms is the quality of teachers that the virtual forum offers.
According to an expert involved in this business, its tutors are selected through a rigorous interview process. "We check their credentials and students also continuously rate them. There is a team working on this to monitor the quality of the online tutors. We record all the online tuition sessions and have a recap model for students whereby they are able to do self-assessment,"

The online players also hold out affordability and flexibility that gives digital learning model an edge. While you may shell out almost Rs 14,000 a year for an hour of algebra classes for a class X student in a city like Delhi, you could get an online tutorial for a year for Rs 2,000, says a Delhi-based parent who uses one such solution - Topper Learning. But for technology, these students in remote places would have been deprived of quality tutoring, he notes.
Growing online learners

So is digital learning finally picking up in India? At least the numbers seem to suggest so. With a growing number of students clicking in to eLearning portals, the virtual classrooms are finally coming alive in India.

Source: thehindubusinessline.com