Startups in India have been using technology to change the way education is imparted for the past couple of years but it remains to be seen if this is leading to effective learning for students, panellists at the News Corp VCCircle Education Investment Summit said on Friday.
The panellists discussed how entrepreneurs are using technology to make education affordable and accessible to all, how technology is changing conventional mediums and whether it is sustainable in the long run.
A common thread of the discussion was that every enterprise must become an education company before becoming a technology company. Education, as a segment, changes slowly, and entrepreneurs must realise that any intervention can happen from within, rather than taking the system head on.
"We came out with a computer interface when we started but realised many teachers haven't worked with a computer. So, we introduced the smartphone interface, as most people have used phones," said Nirav Khambati, CEO of Tata ClassEdge.
The participants said that customisation in the education sector is essential as there is no one-size-fits-all solution that can be applied to the entire market.
"Education can be divided in to multiple micro segments. It is best to start with a defined niche and go from there. This can be from customer segments or geographies," said Arpit Badjatya, CEO and MD, Serosoft Solutions.
The panellists felt that because of this slow adoption of technology, the industry is yet to see any significant disruption.
"I haven't seen people use gamification in personalised education. There is no personalised interface to tell me what skills I need to stay in the industry for the next 15 years," said Subrata Das, industry director of public services and public lead of Internet of things at SAP India. "Entrepreneurs must answer these questions."
Das also said that educational technology must figure out a way to train millennials without taking five to six years of their lives.
However, the panellists also believed that technology will not fully replace the key tools in education, such as books.
"Printing may reduce, but publishing won't. In India, there is a huge opportunity for books, say enriched books," said Khambati of Tata ClassEdge. "We will see a new cycle of investments in publishing."