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Assisted online approach way forward for ed-tech space: panellists at VCCircle event
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An assisted online approach with a focus on technology and support from patient investors will be the key to the future of the education-technology segment in the country, said panellists at News Corp VCCircle Education Investment Summit.

“The education space in India can be divided into three categories: K-12, test-prep and reskilling. K-12 is a huge opportunity and can be further divided into school and after-school categories. After-school itself is a big opportunity. When we talk about education, we only think of metros but there is a market in tier 2 and 3 cities and in villages,” said Ali Asgar Kagzi, co-founder, Genext Students Pvt. Ltd.

“Technology can help bind the ecosystem. We are using technology to match tutor and students/parents. There is a shortage of good tutors. We are looking at people who love teaching to come on the platform. We are providing tools so that they can focus on teaching. We are going to use artificial intelligence (AI) to understand if teachers who come to the platform can really teach. We are also analysing student data to create more content and also preparing training modules for individual students,” Kagzi said.

Pranjal Kumar, principal, Bertelsmann India Investments, said startups and companies in the ed-tech space need to identify the problems they want to solve. “I asked around 50 students if they wanted to shift to a completely online mode of learning and they said no. This should explain that the ed-tech sector can help with online assistance to train students better in combination with offline traditional methods. Online can be a great tool in bringing the stakeholders of the ecosystem together,” Kumar said.

Ishan Gupta, managing director - India of Udacity, an online education platform that runs courses on AI and deep, among others, said investors need to be patient in order to be successful in the education space.

“Education is a long game and investors need to be patient. A shift is happening in the job market. Automation will replace jobs and if we don’t re-skill our workforce then India as a country will lag behind in IT projects delivery. The first step towards building an online course is content and its delivery and the second part is to ensure engagement,” he said.

Mohan Lakhamraju, founder and CEO, Great Learning, said from childhood, Indian students are used to assistive model of learning and hence they would be more comfortable with such a model.

Piyush Agrawal, CEO and founder, Superprofs.com, said assistance from technology will help not only in expansion of the ed-tech segment but will also offer efficiency in operations.

“We work in the test-prep segment and focus on college students and early stage staffers. These subsets are open to learning online. Our survey shows 90% people want online content for such courses. The test prep segment is fragmented—around 85% of this market is being served by the unorganised sector,” Agrawal said.

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