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How Use of Premium Online Education Will Create Ripples In the Indian Education Segment Online education that is only supplemental is no longer satisfactory. Students want superior delivery even for mainstream degrees

By Nitish Jain

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Online education carries the stigma of being inexpensive, mass market and ineffective. "Proper education must be on campus' is the popular refrain. This has to do with online platforms being created to never really substitute or compete with on-campus education, but only as facilitators for students who wanted to learn something additional at no extra cost. Most of the online education available is asynchronous; which means the content is pre-recorded sans any live interaction. Various Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs) platforms witnessed a high growth in enrolment, mostly at no cost.

However, COVID-19 has changed everything, overnight. Online education that is only supplemental is no longer satisfactory. Students want superior delivery even for mainstream degrees. As a result, many universities are now aiming to create online learning systems that would deliver not just equal, but even superior learning outcomes. To many this may sound like a colossal task, if not an impossible one.

Technology has changed our way of life and made everything better. Online education could also achieve a similar feat if the goal is not to be mass market but high end. Educational institutions and edtech providers need to develop technology that is custom designed for classroom use; replicating a live classroom down to the last detail. Such premium online technology can ensure that a professor is able to reach all of his/her students, making every student feel like they are in the front row of the classroom. No backbenchers!

There are many other elements that can be conducted online, that are not possible in a physical classroom. Video-conferencing applications and platforms such as Zoom and Google Classrooms are adept with many features that can help facilitate learning. A key element is the use of "polls' to engage students. These polls can be carried out in a flash and faculty can conduct either a blind poll, (when only s/he) can get the result and know which student has selected which option, or one where all the students can see all the results. Smart faculty can use this very effectively to engage and excite students. Another key feature is the use of the "chat' function. When a professor asks a question, instead of calling only a few with raised hands, all students can reply on the chat. This again, is very effective in engaging students who would otherwise not interact or participate in a traditional classroom.

The most compelling benefit, in my view, is the selection of the professor. No longer do you need someone from the same city. The professor could be based anywhere in the world. Consider a small town in India; naturally, there would be a paucity of good faculty. But with online learning, even a professor from the US could teach a student in this small town. Isn't this simply marvellous!

The list of innovations and possibilities in online education is endless, and innovative schools will be the ones who create the rules. One thing is for sure – classrooms no longer need four walls.

Nitish Jain

President, S P Jain School of Global Management

Nitish Jain is an Indian educationist, philanthropist, and President of S P Jain School of Global Management (S P Jain), a Sydney-based business school that also has campuses in Dubai, Singapore, and Mumbai.

Nitish is the recipient of several awards in recognition of his efforts in modernizing business education and promoting global employability among business graduates. In 2010, he won the Outstanding Contribution to Education Award by the CMO Asia, and the Award for Excellence by theAustralia India Business Council in 2014, presented by Her Excellency Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia.

The same year, Nitish was selected by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to join his official delegation of CEOs to Australia post the G20 summit. Over 3 days, Nitish, along with top CEOs, business leaders and visionaries from India, joined the PM in presenting his “Make in India” campaign to Australia’s business community.

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