The advent of internet has brought a new way of learning i.e. virtual education or e-learning. Although this mode of learning started with the Internet, the development has been rather slow. With the onset of the global pandemic crisis in 2020, virtual education has seen a big leap in adoption and growth. The pandemic-induced education sector shutdown has had to rely on digital mode to continue its operations, which has intensified the growth of educational technologies (EdTech) across the globe.
During this transition, students and working professionals have realized the importance of online learning and its benefits. The flexibility and convenience of taking online courses allows for learning anytime, anywhere. For working professionals, upskilling is imperative to stay relevant and up-to-date, and to advance in your career. EdTech players and e-learning platforms, together with top institutes and companies, have introduced different online programs to target both students and professionals. The regulatory environment has also provided tailwinds and strong impetus to the education sector, as the new education policy has set out provisions for the expansion of online degrees, credit transfers and learning. as the main pillars for improving access to affordable and quality education.
Let’s take a look at some of the transformations of virtual education over the past two years and its expected impact in the years to come.
Sector growth and outlook
For years, EdTech and online education have taken a small place in the education sector. The global online education market grew to USD 250 billion in 2020 from less than USD 190 billion in 2019. According to global market research, it is expected to reach USD 586 billion by 2027. India is playing a important role in online education – the market has quadrupled since 2019, to $3 billion – with approximately 40 million students entering the higher education ecosystem each year. Among the organized workforce in India, around 40% of the employees need to be reskilled through professional certifications. With over 5000 EdTech start-ups across the learning lifecycle, the stage is set for online education to be India’s next digital export to the world. All of this has been well fueled by government initiatives like eVidya, Diksha and the National Knowledge Network. More fundraising and mergers are expected as a host of innovations for effective learning and development are underway.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, people had some trepidation about virtual learning powered by digital technology. The pandemic has played a role in making online learning familiar to people of all segments. Interest in online learning modes has seen an unprecedented increase, with searches for online courses increasing by more than 85% in the last year; online courses increased by 140%. The pace of digital adoption by education service providers has been rapid, as most players have moved to online methodologies to provide continuity of learning, while replicating the in-person experience online. Most people from various walks of life have found it useful, especially the working population. The past two years have cemented the role of virtual learning in the daily lives of learners. Going forward, this cohort and new generations will primarily seek online modes of learning, training and development. This reinforces the future growth of online education.
The potential for growth and increased adoption has attracted more investment in education technology and e-learning. Globally, 21 out of 34 EdTech unicorn companies entered the elite list from 2020 to 2022. India has become the second largest funding market for EdTech in the world. In India alone, five companies have become unicorns amid the pandemic crisis. Foreign and Indian investors are coming to invest in EdTech companies. This investment has driven strong growth in the industry and increased the success rate of EdTech start-ups, with global EdTech spending expected to reach $400 billion by 2026 from $183 billion in 2018.
Innovation and development
In a relatively short period, virtual education has undergone a complete transformation, thanks to the rapid development of digital technologies. EdTech startups combine many innovative features and approaches in their content, delivery, and platforms. Gamification, simulation-based experiential learning via VR-AR, AI and automation based machine learning, micro-learning, results-driven learning and many other features and approaches are implemented to improve online teaching and learning. These innovations can significantly transform the mainstream education system.
The virtual education sector has been able to achieve a decade of expansion and growth in the past two years alone thanks to close partnerships between the formal education ecosystem and EdTech players. Now, the industry is focusing on sustainable growth by providing effective methods for seamless education aided by relevant digital solutions in the global market. Increased adoption, investment and innovation will be key factors in driving and sustaining this trend in the years to come.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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