The future of online courses in India
In developed countries, online education startups have been around for quite some time now. With the likes of successful startups like Udemy, Coursera & Khan Academy, online courses seem to be the next best bet in the world of education.
Not only this, there are a lot of other famous startups which are niche specific and have made their success in their respective niches.
Niches like coding, language learning, music have a very high adoption with the masses.
But that’s all about the developed ecosystem of US, UK and rest of the first world.
What about a country like ours, where access to internet and technology is still in a growing phase.
While there have been a lot of adoption of internet and technology with the advent of cheaper phones and more reasonable data but is that enough to make online learning popular with the masses?
But even after a lot of constraints, there are a lot of startups which have made their mark in their respective categories after overcoming all these challenges and hurdles.
Think of it this way, earlier if you wanted to have access to high-quality teachers and course material, you had to shift to a bigger city and move temporarily there so that you could sit amongst top students and get access to good, high-quality education/new course.
But now things have changed, we are at a stage where anyone from anywhere (be it Tier 1, 2 and 3) can get access to cheap internet and technology which in turn has been helpful in getting access to online courses.
We are still at early stages of what anyone might term as the growth of the internet.
But with that said, the potential for online courses and online education is enormous.
And if there is someone who is looking to tap into the ed-tech sector I think that this is the right time to enter it.
I think over a period of a decade almost all of the education in schools and colleges will be open sourced and it will be assisted with an online cloud database.
And I think there are few compelling reasons why online courses are going to trump the conventional methods of education in the coming years.
The biggest benefit of building an online course is that it can scale unlike a college set up education.
Setting up & running an online course requires minimal infrastructure.
Say, for example, you want to run a course for a class of 1000 people.
Imagine that happening in a college setup. To pull that kind of number you need to set up a lot of infrastructures to ensure the course’s effectiveness.
And while doing all of that eventually the college is a business. With the aim of delivering high-quality education, it has to also be profitable on a large scale while providing quality and efficient education at the same time.
But if you do the same in an online course, all you need is a website and couple of more things like discussion forums and doubt clearing sessions to pull off something like this.
So the idea of profitability with respect to an online course at this kind of scale is comparatively higher than typical classroom setup.
And it’s not a new feat, popular websites like Udemy and Coursera are already pulling off crazy numbers for every course that they conduct.
Now I am sure even you’d have faced this issue at college.
In every classroom, there are a group of kids who are FAST learners.
Not that it is shocking, but they are everywhere.
So in every lecture, if what happens is that the classes are moving at the pace of smart kids.
So what ends up happening is kids who are slow in understanding mostly feel left out in such cases.
And what ends up happening is that the lecturer ends up teaching to a handful of people which the smart group only.
So in an online setting, you can move the course at your own pace, and it will unlock as you progress on it.
So whether you are a FAST learner or a SLOW learner, you don’t need to worry about the pace of others. You can move at your own pace without feeling left out in the process.
Ability To Afford
Now the main benefit of an online course is it takes very little to produce an online course.
And when that benefit is there it can be certainly passed onto the students as well.
So if it takes less to produce, eventually it ends up being less priced.
That way it enables access to a group of people who weren’t able to able to buy expensive education before.
Like, think of it. If you are thinking of taking a course in the US, think of how much time, money and sacrifices you’d have to make just to take that one course. It is as if you’d have to change your life just for the sake of ONE course.
Plus the cost you’d have to incur just to get access to that course.
Now if you had an option to take that course at your own pace in an online setting it would be much easier for you.
This way you can take the course by living in any part of the world.
All you have to have is an internet access and device to access the course.
So the cost of educating yourself through an online course is drastically low as compared to a regular course where you have to visit the place physically.
Access To The Smartest People
Imagine if you have a desire a to learn the money making secrets of the riches?
Or you had the desire to learn tennis from the world’s best athletes?
How do you think you’d be able to do that.
Let’s face it learning from smart people is incredibly hard.
Just to get access to them is a challenge itself.
I mean you’d have to go to their country of origin and spend TONS of money to learn from them.
With an online course, you can access to some of the smartest brains on the PLANET without paying that extra premium that you’d have to pay otherwise.
You can get access to their brain’s portion for tiny amount.
India is yet to witness something of this level where people start decoding the success secrets of smart people. But globally people like Tim Ferris and startups like MASTERCLASS are doing a fantastic work at it.
But with all these things mentioned, the online course has its own set of challenges which they come with. Let’s look at a few of these challenges and understand where the future of online courses lie in a nation like ours.
Lack Of Measurement
While studying an online course has been amazing and beneficial on a larger scale, What’s difficult is that the course builders haven’t been able to figure out on how they can deliver the course at large-scale while maintaining its effectiveness.
See I know that the problem with classroom setting is that it is not scalable to a large group of people and is difficult to run and operate but that’s one of the reasons why they are so effective.
It’s because they can bring out the efficiency of the students by making the groups small and focusing more on it.
The narrower the focus, the better it is.
And that’s what’s missing in the online courses is that it’s tough to measure the effectiveness of the course.
While the thought of building an online course sounds exciting
And the scale part sounds seductive.
The sad story is that India is still lagging behind regarding access for basic internet and tech devices.
While the mobile phones have gotten cheaper, the laptops are the real tools for learning.
The real push will happen with laptops going down in terms of pricing just the way smartphones have gone down.
We still need better laptops and devices with the high-speed internet as our access.
There is another problem in India which very few online course builders have realised.
In a country like India people values certificates more than the real learning.
And that’s the very specific reason why people who want to take an online course in India care more about getting a certificate for the course instead of valuing real learning from the course.
That’s the first part of the problem the second is how do you create a course and ensure that
Real credits get allotted to the online course.
To justify this on a large scale, you need to allot a particular credit system to the online course.
Just the whole process of embedding credits seem a little complicated to me as of now.
A lot of colleges in the west have also launched full fledged online courses.
The future of online course……
So the real question is will the online courses ever replace the classroom structure or not?
Well, that’s a tricky question.
I think it is tough to give an accurate answer to this. But I feel moving ahead in the future we’ll have an education system which will be hybrid and will have a mix of both classroom setting as well as an online curriculum to support its learning format.
In the coming years, my opinion is that following things might happen in the online ed-tech world.
- Course creators moving from paid courses to creating free classes so that a large number of people can get access to the material.
- The cost of content production will go down and creation time will be very FAST.
Experience: Since a lot of course builders will become experienced in building easy to learn courses. There will also be a large set of audience which will be experienced in teaching them.
So through an online collaborative effort. The product development will be much faster by taking inputs from their own experiences plus the feedback gathered from students as well.
But that’s all from my side.
Where do you think the future of Online education in India heading to?
Please let me know if the comments section below and I’d be more than happy to talk to you about it.