Re-engineering Education?

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Education institutions, the world over closed their gates to prevent the spread of coronavirus. While this is a major inconvenience for many, it has created a surge in demand for online learning.

In 2017, Google and KPMG estimated the online education market in India to grow 8X from $247 million to $1.96 billion by 2021. Their estimates may be a bit higher now…

Let’s begin with install base metrics.


There is a total of 575 million internet-connected smartphone devices in India. The numbers of users in May 2020 should be approximate as follows:


In terms of installs, Byju takes a major chunk of the market. But installs only tell us a part of the story. Take a closer look at the app usage metrics for the education technology space.


Education or re-education isn’t just for young students; people are finding ways to stay relevant in the job market by participating in online certifications and courses to upskill. With uncertainty rife on what the job market will look like post Covid — people are anxious about their career prospects and doing what they can to remain relevant.

The huge jump for Coursera usage between March to April 2020 — from 8.8 minutes to 30.6 minutes! might have something to do with the job market getting even more competitive? Coursera users are mostly professionals looking to develop the specific skillset for a promotion, raise, or starting a new career…

In the past three months, all four EdTech companies — Byju’s, Coursera, Toppr & Gradeup — saw an increase in total session time.

Byju changed its business model to the ‘freemium’ in March — providing free access to its learning app. It saw an increase of nearly 2.5X in session time from 7.5 minutes to 17.9 minutes spent per day.


A significant increase in the open rate of these platforms can be seen from March 2020 to May 2020.

Byju, Toppr, and GradeUp are EdTech companies focusing on K12 space took this stay-at-home opportunity by offering free access so that students can continue their studies.


Can e-learning become the primary method of education in the long-term?

Resource-rich schools in Tier 1 and 2 cities can move classes online but schools located in smaller towns & cities of India have limited access to the internet and electricity.

Schools in rural areas struggle to adopt online education because so far WhatsApp is the only option for communication. The number of DAUs or Daily Active Users on EdTech platforms in ‘Tier 3 Others’ locations is far lower than even the lowest DAUs of the urban areas.

Advocates of Online education may want to replace (or augment) traditional learning but it’s difficult to imagine this happening anytime soon — at least in an equitable manner across India. Most students in India do not have access to quality internet services required to facilitate this revolution. For now, EdTech is a complement to help students keep learning during the lockdown. Keep in mind however that technology does not just step forward but leapfrogs.

Some important questions to think about:

  • What happens to the millions of families who cannot afford a tablet, laptop or internet connection required to educate their children online?
  • Will layoffs be the rebirth of professional education & upskilling?
  • Are students willing to pay the same amount of tuition fees for online lectures?
  • Do employers value candidates with an online degree?

The Covid19 lockdowns in India, have witnessed some of the largest levels of unemployment this country has seen in recent decades — it is worth thinking about how artificial intelligence and industrial automation will impact people in the years ahead.

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