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More professionals, students enol with ed-tech cos as lockdown keeps people housebound

Skewed gender ration, lack of vernacular content among various issues faced by students as education goes online amid coronavirus lockdown.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published: March 30, 2020 5:58:54 pm
education news, online courses, online courses india, online courses for students, Even as the enrollment has increased in the online courses, it is yet to fulfill needs of students (Representational image)

As the country is under lockdown to curtail the spread of coronavirus, different ed-tech platforms have seen a surge in enrollment with professionals signing up for up-skilling and schools and colleges using them to finish pending syllabus.

Illumnus, an ed-tech startup by IIT Bombay & BITS Pilani alumni, has witnessed more than 1200 per cent growth in users since the lockdown, Illumnus Founder and CEO Akash Singhal told PTI here.

He said, the company’s Collaborative Learning Management System (C-LMS) provides premier educational institutions with their internal digital learning network, simplifying the communication flow among students and teachers even after school hours.

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The company is already affiliated with 14 institutions globally and is looking at affiliating with up to 150 schools and universities by the end of July, he added.

We are a startup that was formed with the objective of creating and curating the best platform for propagating education amongst individuals, breaking all social constraints of classroom learning. Therefore, this initiative is to support the entire education sector in the country, without letting COVID-19 affect our teaching system, he added.

Co-founder of Great Learning, an ed-tech company for working professionals, Hari Krishnan Nair opined that the lockdown has been a turning point for e-learning platforms as many professionals as well as students are utilising this current situation to upskill themselves.

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We have witnessed 100 per cent growth in users during the three and a half weeks. With high quality courses in association with universities, we are seeing an uptick in enrollment from across the globe, he added.

However, in India the men ratio among students is 60:40 and in professionals it is 80:20, he pointed out.

Coursera Managing Director, India and APAC, Raghav Gupta said comparing the past 30 days with the preceding 30 days, there has been a 445 per cent increase in enrolments in Public Health content on the platform overall — almost 150-800 per cent increase in affected countries.

In India there has been 416 per cent increase in enrolment in public health related courses, he added. There has been a daily growth of 54 per cent in overall registration for different courses in India in March, he added.

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Coursera has provided impacted universities and colleges free access to its course catalog through the ‘Coursera for Campus’ platform through which universities and colleges can sign up to provide their enrolled students with access to more than 3,800 courses and 400 specializations.

Akhil Shahani, Managing Director of the Shahani Group, which runs a range of colleges in areas like business, media, real estate, finance among others, said the only way to make online education accessible to all is to increase the number of smartphone users. However, there are three major hindrances to the adoption of online learning, the first is that many rural areas in India do not have good internet connectivity, so cannot access online education.

The second hindrance is that a majority of online education is in the English, which only 10 per cent of India’s population understands. It is imperative to have more educational content available in vernacular languages.

“The third is that many employers do not consider online degrees to be credible for entry-level job hiring. Students still need to go to colleges with physical classrooms to be taken seriously by recruiters, he added.

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