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Archive for August, 2014

I think we are at an inflection point in online education in India the way Andy Grove from Intel had nicely framed in his book, Only the Paranoid Survive.

Andrew writes of how a 10X change in any one force, namely:

  • Power, vigor and competence of existing competitors
  • Power, vigor and competence of existing complementors
  • Power, vigor and competence of existing customers
  • Power, vigor and competence of existing suppliers
  • Power, vigor and competence of potential competitors
  • Possibility that what your business is doing can be done in a different way

can result in profound changes to our business.

Why do I say this? In the past 2-3 years, there have been several interesting things that have emerged.

MOOCs have arrived on the Indian education scene in an informal way gathering unprecedented response from our students. We have the second largest country presence in MOOCs globally with over 2+ mn registrations. This is important to note in the context of total enrolment in open and distance learning in the country which stands at around 4.5 mn. Although the two are different models solving different needs (at this point), it is a far cry from year 2002 when at egurucool.com we were happy having 20,000 subscribers to our online K12 products. This amazing student response to MOOCs has been fueled by social media and networks. Although we have yet to see business models emerge, but they will. And surely this marks a 10X change in the power, vigor and competence of existing customers.

The Government has invested (and is investing) heavily in the creation of open education resources, software and technologies for eLearning for a while now under the NMEICT. For many streams of education such as Engineering (NPTEL) and humanities, arts and social sciences (CEC), a large corpus of open resources have already become available at the under-graduate level (post graduate level work has also been initiated). The NPTEL Youtube channel has now accumulated over a 100 mn hits and over 290,000 subscriptions. Similar efforts by the NROER team are going to make huge amounts of content available for school educators. High quality content becoming available for adaptation and delivery (under the CC-by-SA license), open software for live classrooms and learning management, research in haptics and many other such developments are definitely set to increase the power, vigor and competence of existing suppliers and potential competitors. Early movers such as MyOpenCourses & ClassLE and many traditional players (such as the publishers) are now starting to leverage these resources. The Government too is investing in building up new platforms and content for MOOCs.

In parallel, complementing technologies such as those for gamification, big data analytics, mobile apps, 3D printing and others are finding their way into the Indian expertise lexicon. We can already witness, for example, the power of data analytics used by school performance evaluation tools.

In what may constitute a tipping point, among other possibilities, if the government legitimizes MOOCs by offer credit transfer, recognition and other measures reserved for the traditional degree and diploma courses (and for vocational education), or if the body corporate or professional associations decide to put their stamp on nanodegree like non-formal learning and employment pathways or if universities (including distance education) adopt MOOCs as part of their curriculum, it will catalyze and harmonize these 10X changes. Business models will emerge, quality and scale challenges will be mitigated, and problems of faculty skill & shortage will be ameliorated.

I believe the inflection point, if we are not there already, will be reached fairly soon, catalyzed by some of these possibilities. What do you think?

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