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startup | IST

Young Turks: Online learning is accelerated by tech, globalisation and COVID, says Coursera CEO

As India's edtech sector goes mainstream, global e-learning platform Coursera is now doubling down on its India strategy, its second-largest market in the world.

We know disruption is great learning. But, what if learning faces a great disruption? The answer is in front of us - edtech. By bringing the world of chalk and board to smartphones, the sector has burgeoned in size since the onset of the pandemic. Given the benefits of convenience and access to world-class educators, learners today need no pitch to enrol. In fact, India's edtech space has seen a whopping $4 billion coming in as investments since the start of the pandemic.
As India's edtech sector goes mainstream, global e-learning platform Coursera is now doubling down on its India strategy, its second-largest market in the world.
Coursera is now making India its Asia Pacific hub, has launched a series of new partnerships with enterprises and universities along with a pricing strategy that works for the price-sensitive Indian consumer.
Coursera went public in March on the back of a COVID year that saw a 65 percent increase in users and record partnerships with universities and enterprises.
Its coronavirus response initiative has helped 4,000 colleges and universities worldwide on their digital transformation journey and its workforce recovery initiative supported governments in 100 countries and saw 1 million citizens enrol in 8.3 million courses.
CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan spoke to Jeff Maggioncalda, chief executive officer of Coursera, to talk about the future of online learning and Coursera's plans for India.
On anticipating the COVID disruption, Maggioncalda said, “We have a global network of universities all around the world. These universities are spread around the world and in January of 2020, I got a call from our partner at Duke they have a joint venture with Wuhan University. They have a campus in Kunshan China and they said, our campus has just been shut down. There is a virus that has been affecting this area and so we need to move all of our learning online within seven days, can we use Coursera, for campus for free for our faculty and for our students."
"So that was January and I said to our team, k an eye on this thing this, this might really expand. So we started getting ready to offer free Coursera for campus to every campus in the world, even before that happened and then when that ended up happening, and you know, UNESCO said 1.6 billion students in April of 2020 had their schools close, we were ready.”
On Coursera's plan, once schools reopen, Maggioncalda said, “I think even before the pandemic, we have been growing nicely. The founders founded Coursera, there were two Stanford professors who said education needs to be more available to more people. One of the reasons this has become more important now than it was in the past is that the world is changing faster than it ever has before."
"Technology and globalisation and then accelerated by the pandemic is creating a change. That means every company needs to rethink how they do business, every person needs to rethink not only how they do their job, but the skills they need to do their job. College education, is still a very important source of education. But most people are going to need more learning for more of their lives than we ever have in the past."
"So I think this is going to be persistent and this grand experiment that caused every teacher to teach online and every learner to learn online, I think people have really realised the efficiency, the affordability, the flexibility, and the relevancy of what you can learn online, sometimes exceeds more traditional forms of learning.”
On Coursera's India blueprint, he said, “The number of newly registered learners in India 7.5 million new learners came to Coursera from India. The top country in the world, the second country was the US with 7 million new learners. When you have a country over billion people who are upwardly moveable and who put lot of focus on education you see a lot of power and a lot of momentum, some people call it demographic dividend.”
For full interview, watch accompanying video...