The impact of Covid-19 on the online education market in India

-By KI News Team | Oct. 7, 2020, 9:38 a.m.

The global pandemic had led millions of people to shift their activities from offline to online. This sudden transition away from the classroom in many parts of the globe made people wonder if the acceptance of online learning would continue to prevail post-pandemic and if such a move will have an impact on the global education sector.

Before COVID-19, there was already strong growth and penetration of education technology. Since the pandemic, there is a massive increase in the use of online education applications, be it language apps, digital tutoring, or video conferencing software. As per the data available online, by 2024, it is expected that the Indian online education market will reach INR 360.3 billion.


How has the education sector responded to COVID-19?

High penetration of the Internet has contributed to the development of a broad consumer base for companies operating in the e-learning industry. As the conventional education system in India is inadequate to provide facilities to all segments of the education and skills development sector, learners are searching for alternative sources of education, leading to a rise in the online education market in India.


The country provides substantial opportunities for players to provide digital platform-based goods or services. For example, BYJU'S, an Ed-tech company, launched its mobile app in 2015 and managed to get more than 6 million users across India. Thus, with the increase in the usage of the Internet and smartphones in the Indian economy, the e-learning user base is expected to increase, driving the market growth.


Online Education Sector in India: Government measures to digitize education

Digital initiatives taken by the Government of India are one of the factors driving the growth of online education. Efforts such as e-Pathshala, which hosts teachers, students, parents, researchers, and educators with web-based educational tools, have helped rural people become acquainted with online education.


The Indian Government have introduced virtual labs and classrooms, to provide remote access to labs in various science and engineering disciplines for institutions such as IT, IIITs, and NITs. Digital laboratories cater to undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as research scholars. These government policies have contributed to an increase in demand for online education from consumers and institutions in rural and urban areas.


How does it impact the future of e-learning?

While some believe that an unplanned and rapid transition to online learning, with little training, inadequate bandwidth, and little planning would lead to the poor user experience that is not conducive to sustainable development, others believe that a new hybrid education model would emerge with significant benefits.


The incorporation of information technology in education will be further accelerated, and online education will gradually become an integral part of the process. Factors such as the advent of cloud computing and the increasing popularity of big data and learning analytics will have a major effect on the expansion of the value of the online education demand in India during the forecast duration.


Challenges of online learning

Almost all of the urban schools and universities have switched to online education because of Covid-19. However, there are certain obstacles to be addressed. Some students lacking adequate internet connectivity and/or technology, especially in rural areas, are failing to engage in digital learning; this disparity is evident across countries and national income brackets. According to reports available online 95 % of students in Switzerland, Norway, and Austria have computers where as only 34% of students in India have computers.


There is also a substantial difference between those from affluent and deprived backgrounds, while almost all 15-year-olds from a privileged background said they have a computer to work on, this is not the case for students from an underprivileged background.


Is online learning as effective?

There is proof that online learning can be more effective in a variety of ways for those who have access to the right technologies. Some research indicates that, on average, students have 25-60 percent more content when they study online compared to just 8-10 percent in classrooms.

This is mainly due to students being able to learn quickly online; e-learning takes 40-60 percent less time to learn than in conventional classroom settings, since students can learn at their own rate, go back and read, skip, or speed up as they want.

However, the success of online learning differs across age groups. The consensus on children, particularly younger children, is that a structured environment is needed as students of this age group tend to get distracted easily. To take complete advantage of e-learning, a concerted effort needs to be made by providing a framework that goes beyond replicating physical class/lecture through high video capabilities, using a variety of interactive resources that encourage inclusion, personalization, and intelligence.

Since studies have shown that children use their senses extensively to learn, technology makes the learning process fun and effective.


The value of disseminating information is illustrated by COVID-19.

Available data indicate that India is one of the fastest-growing online education markets, set to cross revenues of USD 1.96 billion by 2021.

Significant world events are also a turning point for rapid innovation – a strong illustration of this is the increase in e-commerce post-SARS. While it is still to be found if this will apply to e-learning post the pandemic, it is one of the few sectors where investments are massive.

What has been made clear by this pandemic is the value of disseminating information across boundaries, across industries, and across all fractions of society. It is up to all of us to explore the full potential of online education.

Input by V K Khandelwal, Chairman, Selective Education