India’s Ed Tech Explosion – Question from Dr. Rod Berger PsyD

Dr. Rod Berger (Vice President of Education, RANDA Solutions – http://www.linkedin.com/in/rodbergerpsyd) conducted an interview of my mentor, Prof. Marmar Mukhopadhyay (http://etma-india.in/680-marmar-mukopadhyay) on Jan 14, 2014.

You can view the recorded video of the entire interview at www.spreecast.com/events/father-of-ed-management-in-todays-india

Post that interview, Dr. Rod asked me these questions:

  1. How do you think India’s explosion in edtech development can impact the rest of the world?
  2. Can they now be considered as the leaders in this space?

This was my response to Dr. Rod:

Regarding your question on India’s edtech development, I believe there is a more fundamental observation we need to make – that is, for any change to happen there are 2 factors – agents of change and the change itself.

Let’s look at the agents of change (edtech adoption) in this context:

  1. India leapfrogged into mobile adoption and has one of the largest mobile user base, and number of people accessing internet via mobile is skyrocketing in India. (you can find stats for this online easily)
  2. Indian students, faced with rising middle class, now have the luxury to explore different careers. In my college days, we pretty much ended up in IT professionals or doctors. Now you have many entrepreneurs blooming all over India. Tech startups being most investment-friendly and less capital-intensive, are growing in numbers. Look at yourstory.com platform for example. Every college has startup incubation cells now. It is their new computer lab!
  3. Education quality or lack of it is coming into spotlight, especially given that more than 80% of undergraduates in India are unemployable. A lot of work is being done, funded by Govt – look at National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), for example.
  4. Every entrepreneur wants to solve a problem. And lack of quality education is a universal problem (that is gaining spotlight), so naturally many startups take to edtech as the solution to this problem!
  5. Foreign economic crisis is leading to protectionist visa rules in US and UK. Which means we are witnessing a reverse brain-drain in India, lots of techies are returning to India. Naturally they have capital to startup, and their startups will mostly be techies!
  6. Indian government is consciously moving towards budget allocation of 6% of GDP towards education, now we are at around 4.2%
  7. India is witnessing an accute shortage of quality teachers. Technology is increasingly being seen as the savior for this problem! (whether it is right or not)

Now let’s look at the change:

  1. Are there enough large-scale technology companies focusing on India’s education? NO
  2. Are there enough companies moving in that direction? Resounding YES
  3. Is there enough expertise in technology in India? YES
  4. Is there enough expertise in education in India? YES
  5. Is there enough guidance for ed tech startups in India? NO (one of the problems that ETMA addresses)
  6. Is there enough interest from investors? NEUTRAL – as we all know education is a high-gestation business. And Indian investors are typical traders, wanting short-term returns. But government funding is increasing for all startups, although tough to obtain one such funding!

So to your questions:

  • How do you think India’s explosion in edtech development can impact the rest of the world?
    Indian edtech startups will have to be frugal keeping in mind the ethos of an Indian consumer. And frugal edtech can revolutionize the world. I think India’s Facebook will actually come from the world of India’s edtech startups!

  • Can they now be considered as the leaders in this space?Not yet. Indian edtech needs a lot of technocratic academicians’ support, just like Coursera or YouTube4Edu or Khan Academy, to see widespread adoption. Also, Indian edtech startups need to churn out world-class products and not give the excuse of being a startup! They have to remember that we are living in a flat world and their product may originate in India, but is applicable worldwide (as a corollary, India is 3rd largest in enrollments Coursera)

So what do you think of my response? Chime in with your comments!

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