Edtech must evolve as blended learning to stay relevant

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought sweeping changes to virtually every business. The pan-industry shift from physical to digital, which had seen slow but steady progress in previous years, evolved a decade or more overnight. At the forefront of this wave of change was the education sector, led by a host of new and established edtech apps.

The education sector in India had long been in stasis. It is only since the advent of the digital revolution that a gradual change in the learning ecosystem has begun. The efforts of early edtech pioneers brought e-learning into the mainstream and made it a viable alternative to traditional methods. Despite these breakthroughs, the physical presence of students and faculty in brick-and-mortar educational institutions has continued to dominate the space. However, the sudden onset of COVID meant this was no longer possible. Moving online was the one and only option available.

During the pandemic, online learning and the edtech space have played a vital role in providing education for millions of people around the world. Online learning platforms have seen staggering growth figures, driven by both students and professionals looking to hone and expand their skills. But as the world now returns to some semblance of normality, with offices reopening and students returning to physical classrooms, edtech companies must once again evolve to cope with a readjustment in demand. .

In order to maintain its relevance and appeal in changing circumstances, edtech must now focus on the convergence of online and offline learning. We are now in the era of blended learning, in which online and offline aspects play an equally vital role in attracting and retaining students/learners. After two years of self-isolation and home confinement, the prospect of an all-online education is no longer an attractive prospect. Startups are pivoting their business models to bring the physical education dimension back into the online space. The physical presence of a teacher, one-on-one interactions, and insights from face-to-face conversations are the needs of the hour. As such, online edtech startups must move quickly to reinvent themselves for this new landscape.

This can be achieved by two main methods:

Partnership with educational institutions

The biggest barrier to growing the next wave of edtech startups is the lack of physical infrastructure and facilities. This can be solved by entering into partnerships with a select group of universities nationwide. Traditional Indian educational institutions can bring their offline setups online with the help of edtech startups and provide both accessibility and availability to students in metropolitan and non-metropolitan cities. Edtech companies are also empowered through access to existing resources at these universities – both human and physical. This synergy with an online component exponentially improves the quality of the education offered.

If edtech startups can successfully use this framework to provide their services to a wider audience, they can achieve economies of scale. The end result is the ability to offer their services at ever more affordable rates and thereby increase their target market and future growth prospects.

Adopt an omnichannel growth model

An alternative to partnering with existing institutes is for edtech companies to open directly operated offline centers. The benefit of this omnichannel model is the monitoring and control of all aspects of the learning experience it offers platforms. Strategically leveraging a network of these centers allows the platforms to meet the needs of students in critical Tier II and III cities, driving strong traction and acting as catchment areas for learners. These offline touchpoints reinforce and reinforce the online components of education, while helping to build brand trust with the target audience and meet the growing demand for interpersonal mentoring.

The author is co-founder of Seekho.ai

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