Forget chalk and dusters for the time being; online education is here to stay.
The pandemic has prompted educational institutions, working professionals, students and parents to embrace online learning like never before, skyrocketing the demand for easy-to-handle digital tools or platforms to enhance their experience. Platforms like YouTube and Google, with their Voice function, are facilitating this quantum leap in the education sector.
Several EdTech companies across India have been rising to the challenge. Most companies are looking to scale up because the demand for online education in the country is increasing so exponentially.
India has the brains and a large pool of skilled and experienced educators, and such resources can be mined to go global.
Speaking on day two of the “Education Next: Tech Led Revolution In Education” summit, presented by CNBC-TV18 and Google, and supported by Startup India, Aman Grover, Head of AppDev Sales, Google India, said, “It is important to leverage teachers and use their expertise through EdTech so that they can elevate the online learning experience. There was a 140% growth in ‘Online Classes’ seen post-COVID and it continues to remain at an elevated level .”
He added, “2021 has already seen a strong and optimistic start in Venture Capital funding for EdTechs across the world, especially in China, the USA, the European countries, and in India.”
To fuel this growth, one must tap into the Global opportunity, optimizing user acquisition costs, and building trust with customers.
Understanding what a student needs to learn online is core to transforming education in the 21st century. The first step is to come up with the right tools for engagement, and using voice integration within the UI/UX could be a path-breaking innovation in this regard.
At the summit, experts agreed that a platform like YouTube is an efficient way to build trust and increase engagement, and that is why YouTube has become a preferred facilitator of online learning.
There are 500 million internet users in India, which is more than the entire population of the US, Canada and Mexico put together. One out of three Indians watches videos online and spends over 60 mins daily online.
According to Comscore, YouTube now reaches 325M adults in India. Interestingly four out of five users watch YouTube to learn something new. Many EdTech companies have tied up with the video streaming platform and collaborated on content with the platform’s most inspiring influencers.
Duolingo and upGrad are two companies that have used YouTube to its full potential to develop their international roadmap. Arjun Mohan, CEO - India, upGrad, said that his platform had used Google and YouTube extensively for market analysis and product improvement. These platforms also helped him understand that people are looking for vocational courses with degrees. “Our videos with YouTube garnered 10 million views,” he said.
Abhishek Rungta, Senior Product Manager, Duolingo, said that international growth is a huge opportunity for them because more than 90% of the mobile users and more than 70% of the mobile revenue was based out of the USA. This became possible after they collaborated with YouTube. “An EdTech company needs to align itself and determine which markets to go after, make a plan based on in-depth market understanding as it is very important to understand consumer insights in a particular topography, deploy product levers accordingly, and improve on localization,” he said. “A global product helps minimize complexity.”
Why is an online, visual partner important for an EdTech company? Firstly, advertising trends have changed today. Gone are the days when TV and newspaper ads garnered more traffic. “Today, people do not just come to YouTube for entertainment. It is also a potent place to learn, as we found out once the pandemic hit. A lot of people were visiting YouTube during the lockdown to learn new things - be it a new language, a vocational course, or the culinary arts.” said Satya Raghavan, Director, YouTube Partnerships, India
Another great tool that EdTech companies can leverage is the Voice function. Not everyone in the country is keypad-savvy, but are comfortable in speaking their language. More than 500 million people use Google Assistant in a month, and its Hindi Assistant is the second most popular language tool.
Vernacular internet users find Voice a more natural way of interacting with technology. Voice can reduce the technological barrier to access and create personalized learning experiences. An excellent example is the “Read Along” feature of Google. In a country where only 50% of children can read, human resources are wasted because people with gaps in knowledge cannot find good employment options in the future. “With ‘Read Along’, they can now improve their skills effectively. In this feature, a person can read with the app, which corrects pronunciations and explains the meaning of new words. Since its launch in India, ‘Real Along’ has had 8.2 million installs and 48 million stories have been read,” said Nikita Bharadia, Product Marketing Manager, Google India.
Localizing content and making it available in different languages should be an EdTech company’s goal while leveraging tools to empower students. To scale up quickly, the focus should be on bridging the learning gaps in remote corners of India with little or no access to technology. Sal Khan, Founder and CEO of Khan Academy, focused on how to bridge this digital divide.
The other speakers on the second day of the summit were Prashant Gutch, Product Marketing Manager, Google Assistant, and Bani Paintal Dhawan, Head of Education, India and South Asia, Google Cloud India.