The COVID-19 lockdown came as a shock for many students as coaching classes and schools closed abruptly. But students found an alternative in online classes, which experts say will remain "an all-weather friend" not only for students but also those preparing for competitive exams.
According to experts from the education industry, immediately after the lockdown, students were anxious as they had been studying for months and did not want to lose the momentum before exams. But at the same time they were cautious of attending classrooms due to the COVID-19 scare.
According to Kapil Gupta, founder and CEO of NEETprep, a prominent online coaching centre, the number of those enrolling for virtual classes has witnessed an exponential rises and the trend is likely to stay.
"The coronavirus pandemic brought various sectors to a grinding halt and students were stuck in a limbo. Left with little choice, the jittery lot switched to online learning which was not affected by the lockdown," he added.
"Online classes are a boon because suddenly they (students) did not have to worry about wearing a mask or maintaining social distancing? Online coaching has become a big hit especially among those preparing for NEET and JEE exams by proving to be their saviour during the COVID crisis," Gupta said.
Deepak Goel of iMET Global said that 2020 defined the digital industry in all positive and responsible ways as Covid pandemic made the industry to play a major role beyond commercial and innovative interests. He said that it will be important for those offering online service to present themselves as a credible alternative not only in terms of cost but also efficacy.
"Just like the IT revolution in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, 2021 will witness Digital Revolution in all its facets of People, Process and Technology use. Digital will evolve in its full swing with enhancement in digital enabled education beyond conventional degrees and qualifications for new career prospects in digital marketing, AI, VR, ML, IoT or Big Data & Analytics. It shall keep generating more jobs and continue to be the business driver for the economy in 2021," Goel said.
Some experts said that the future of learning is online and if coaching institutes want to survive, they must take that into consideration.
"Situations like the COVID-19 lockdown are boosters to a paradigm shift. Time saving, extensive content, and wider availability of faculty drives students towards online coaching," head of department of cardiology at Janakpuri Super-specialty Hospital Anil Dhall said. "Gradually, all the conventional coaching centres will have to offer online coaching if they want to survive,? Dhall, a close observer of the medical education system, told PTI.
CEO of Delhi-based ICA Edu Skills Ankit Shyamsukha said embracing the new normal is the only way forward. "With COVID, we saw many sectors embracing technology like never before. In India, coaching before March 24, 2020, was highly personal in nature; COVID-19 forced a majority of institutes to turn to technology to continue services. The exams only proved the case for long term technology shift viability and also highlighted the adaptability power of the next-gen," he said.
RL Raina, Vice Chancellor, JK Lakshmipat University, Jaipur, said online coaching is also giving a major boost to the country's revenue. The global online education market is set to be valued at USD 319.167 billion by 2025, as compared to USD 187.877 billion in 2019, he said
"With North America having largest market share, Asia Pacific (APAC) countries including China, India, Malaysia and South Korea are set to see the most rapid regional growth," he said. "Against this, the Indian online education market was valued at INR 39 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach INR 360.3 billion by 2024 according to a report," Raina said.
So, while sheer numbers coupled with a vast English-speaking population make India an impressive market, it has to be upgraded in terms of digital infrastructure, skilling of teachers and students and supporting a vast number of digitally-disadvantaged people, he added.
With Inputs from Agencies