We have seen widespread proliferation of edtech platforms across the country during the past couple of years. These companies are providing new and innovative ways of delivering academic lessons, thereby improving teacher-student equation, while enhancing learning outcomes of students. Powering this edtech growth are key technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), predictive analysis, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

Today, the Indian edtech sector consists of a wide range of players, including unicorns such as Byju’s and other well-recognised players like Simplilearn, Toppr, Khan Academy and UpGrad. Each of them has its own set of unique offerings, with a specialised combination of technologies that ultimately help in delivering learning solutions successfully. Technology intervention in the education sector has grown significantly over the past couple of years. With the Covid-19 pandemic, technology uptake in the education space has increased sharply.

A look at the key technology trends in the education space, the current standing and future outlook of the Indian edtech market, the impact of Covid-19 on the sector and the way forward…

Key tech trends in the edtech space

Artificial Intelligence

AI has made its mark in almost all sectors, including the education domain. It has helped provide a better definition and structure to the whole system of online learning and teaching. Since its inception, the promise of online education has been to ensure better learning outcomes by providing more interactive and engaging content to students. AI has added another layer of value to this process through automation, making the process more engaging than ever. The integration of AR and VR in the online space adds audio-visual component to the overall learning process, with elements such as 3D designs, animations and sign languages, among others. This helps in making learning fun for both students and educators. Given the benefits that technology has to offer in the edtech space, various new companies have emerged, whose main offerings rest on the fundamental pillar of AI. For instance, Leverage Edu is a career guidance platform that uses AI to mentor students on their career journey. The tool helps them receive guidance for college applications and suggests programmes to improve their skills.

Machine learning

An extended application of AI, ML provides systems to learn from experience without being programmed to perform a particular task. This characteristic of the technology is becoming particularly useful in the edtech space, as companies look for ways to constantly evolve their offerings in response to the new and emerging needs of students. In this such a sense, ML in the education industry is helping companies differentiate themselves as edtech players, focusing on using new technologies and exploring innovative possibilities. In addition, predictive analysis, a by-product of ML, is helping edtech platforms offer more accurate results to their students. ML enables these platforms to deploy the predictive analysis method, which encompasses a variety of statistical techniques from data mining to predictive modelling, to assess past and present data to make predictions about future results. The knowledge of potential future results of a student enables teachers and authorities to frame proactive strategies for the betterment of the students. Another advantage of ML in the education sector is that of providing better organisation and management of content and daily curriculum for teachers. Moreover, ML is helping bridge the gap between students and teachers by providing automated systems that book the appointment between teachers and students based on their respective routines. Owing to a wide portfolio of use cases that ML has in the education sector, various edtech start-ups have started leveraging this technology. For instance, Mumbai-based iSchoolConnect helps students by easing the college search and application process. The company uses predictive modelling to guide students in finding a course that is most suitable to them. The platform also makes a single interface for students so that they can submit their applications to multiple universities from one place.

Gamification

Gamification is yet another tech trend that has taken the education sector by storm. It is seeing widespread adoption among various educators. A large number of players in this space are gamifying various academic concepts to help students understand and retain them better. Moreover, this mode of dissemination of lessons is increasingly helping students enhance their problem-solving powers, retain information and improve their overall performance in a very engaging and fun-learning manner. Gamification also improves context-based comprehension through adaptive and personalised learning. Platforms like Mangahigh are employing gamification to ease the understanding of even serious subjects like maths. In addition to edtech players, various schools are now deploying this technique to teach the curriculum to their students.

Indian edtech – On an upward trajectory

The edtech space in India has been bustling with opportunities. The student market in the country is enormous, which offers immense potential for growth to the emerging as well as existing edtech companies. It is the realisation of this opportunity that has helped start-ups like Byju’s in attaining a unicorn status. As per the industry research, until now, India-based Byju’s has secured the highest amount of venture capital in the edtech space at around $969 million, followed by China’s Yuanfudao at $544 million and Zhangmen at $499 million. As per recent market estimates, India has the second highest number of edtech companies at 327, followed by Brazil, the UK and China at 275, 245 and 101 respectively.

These new, on-scene edtech companies have been redefining the education dynamics in the country. With their cutting-edge tech solutions and innovative offerings, these edtech players in the country have enhanced learning outcomes among students, simplified logistics in the education space and have also, to a great extent, streamlined the student-teacher relationship, among other things. Given the various benefits that these companies have brought forth for the education sector, their future seems promising. According to a KPMG report, the Indian edtech market is pegged at $1.96 billion by 2021.

In fact, as per popular industry opinion, at present, edtech is one of the most lucrative sectors  in the country for both investors and entrepreneurs.

Opportunity in crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought all activities to a standstill. As a result, schools and colleges across the world have had to shut operations to contain the coronavirus outbreak. This time of crisis, online learning platforms have come to the rescue of the distressed students, teachers and parents. As physical centres of learning remain shut, it is these edtech companies that students are now turning to. Edtech players have been quick to leverage this opportunity by taking proactive measures such as offering free or discounted live classes, conducting a series of mock tests and providing question banks, among others.

Moreover, various start-ups are partnering with schools and colleges across cities to enable professors to use interactive online tutoring platforms, which offer live classes to students. These edtech companies provide schools and other educational institutions a safe and secure online channel to hold classes.

The way forward

Net net, the future of edtech companies seems to be bright. Even as the world emerges from the post Covid-19 scenario, social distancing norms will continued to be followed. That said, the scope and opportunity for edtech players is only going to grow in the coming years. Various market studies predict that going forward, the lockdown and social distancing can potentially enlarge the scope of untapped technologies such as wearable devices and virtual labs, which can take learning experiences to the next level.

Further, industry analysts predict that there will be an increased focus and demand for online skill development platforms as the threat of large-scale unemployment looms ahead. This is an opportunity that, if tapped efficiently, can yield great results for players in this sector. s

By Diksha Sharma