Akshay Chaturvedi, Founder and CEO, Leverage Edu

The education industry has been witnessing a rapid uptake of technologies and ICT solutions, be it for teacher training or dissemination of lessons to students. The Covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated the adoption of digital solutions, making remote learning and online classes the new normal. Akshay Chaturvedi, Founder and CEO, Leverage Edu, shares his views on the key technology trends shaping the sector, the opportunities and challenges brought forth by Covid-19, and the way forward…

How have the ICT needs of the education sector changed over time? What are some of the key technology trends shaping the sector?

On a wide scale, we have witnessed schools and colleges rapidly adapting to cover this digital gap between education and students by increasing investment and professional training for teachers. In India, government initiatives like Digital India and Skill India have boosted digital literacy and changed the course of teaching and learning. The key developments to look out for are artificial intelligence (AI), big data, internet of things (IoT), e-learning and immersive tools like augmented reality (AR) and virtual learning.

What are some of the opportunities and challenges presented by Covid-19 for edtech players and traditional educational institutions?

In 2021, we are currently witnessing a strong wave in favour of edtech. The pandemic is posing several challenges for traditional educational institutions as they struggle to ensure that students do not lose out on valuable opportunities. These developments are increasingly creating spaces for us to effectively reach a larger audience who are drawn to exploring the right career, right university and course amidst the uncertainty. In India, traditional practices of seeking familial networks for career advice have proved inefficient, and people are actively seeking out experts to get proper assistance and mentorship. We are seeing queries coming in from Tier 2 and 3 cities in India, from working professionals and students who feel overwhelmed by the cumbersome processes.

Traditional educational institutions are also rapidly changing and opting for technology-driven learning experience for students. Yet, the biggest challenge is the lack of uniformity here. While urban private schools have easily adapted to ICT and innovation-driven learning tools, schools situated in rural and semi-urban areas are still struggling. Government initiatives such as BharatNet, which is aimed at increasing connectivity in rural areas, and the New Education Policy 2021, which focuses on online learning, will help bridge this demand-supply gap in education.

What are your views on the use of technologies such as AR/VR, IoT and AI/ML in the education sector? How has been their uptake in India so far?

In 2020-21, many students will have experienced college life through immersive technologies like VR and online classes. While this is not a substitute, it is a great way to make the most of your educational journey. We have consistently and efficiently utilised technologies like AI and big data to match students with the right course and university, and even match them with personalised mentors and head coaches. So, it is exciting to finally witness these technologies gaining uptake in the Indian market and finding a stronghold in the edtech sector.

Going forward, how do you see the education space transforming in India? What will be the key drivers?

The education space is clearly undergoing a unique transformation. E-learning/Online classes have helped ensure continuity in education during the pandemic, but they cannot replace physical and interpersonal learning techniques. We are currently pushing for more consistency, accessibility and feasibility when it comes to quality education. As the education situation in India becomes more precarious, our aim is to educate the masses about their options and help them build a strong foundation in their desired field. The 2020 to 2021 timeline has been a bittersweet journey for the educational system in India. While it has unravelled a lot of institutional flaws in the system, it has also been a watershed moment for the government and policymakers to recognise the importance of technology in the educational sphere.