The education sector has seen a halt in offline classes using a traditional blackboard and chalk. Online education is slowly gaining ground, and the education sector is making quite a few changes to adapt itself to the uncertain climate which all of us are being exposed to. In fact, even before the COVID19 situation had started, many organizations had already started moving towards online marketing and web based course offerings. The recent setbacks have only hastened institutions to look more deeply towards such approaches.
So, how have things changed for traditional colleges? Lets go through some of the recent developments in the education sector.
1. There is more focus on the online marketing of courses
Remember the time when you would fill one application form after another for various different colleges, yet still have apprehensions about the college that would be the best for you?
Earlier, people were not aware of what the quality of education at a particular college would be like. People used to make decisions about which college to join on the basis of the perceived reputation which it had in the minds of the other students. Word-of-mouth was the focus.
The first major change which is evident in the modern era is that learners are now able to know more about courses before they join any. Online reviews, informative and engaging social media content and webinars are giving away enough information to most students and parents to be able to understand what they need to expect if they pay for the course. Some institutions even offer free certificates and free question-answer sessions post the webinar.
One particular institution is The Indian Institute of Digital Education, which offered free webinars on various topics in relation to digital marketing to promote its courses, such as post-graduation in digital marketing and post-graduation in digital design. Learners were asked to include the hashtags #staycalmandlearn and #flattenthecurve while uploading an Instagram story about the webinar on Instagram. The information about IIDE’s webinars spread like fire because of this clever marketing tactic that provided value to the customer, by enabling the customer to learn a new skill even before the customer had decided to purchase a course.
Udemy has used Instagram to be able to promote courses offered by an instructor by first providing target customers with a video tutorial of how to sew face masks. This marketing strategy encourages the customer to read more about the other courses that a particular instructor offers. Moreover, people can also see how skilled a particular instructor is by watching the video.
Consider the video below, which encourages people to make masks instead of purchasing them.
The popular learning application, BYJU’s, is adding value to its customers by providing them with the knowledge that can help them gain new skills and make decisions regarding their careers. For instance, many students know about careers like being a part of Indian Administrative Services, Indian Financial Services,and Indian Police Services, but the exact roles and responsibilities are not known to the students. BYJU’s helped in filling this information gap in the minds of its learners.
2. Platforms for giving assignments to students and grading them are being launched
Due to the lockdown, the teachers in the education industry are left with no other option apart from searching for new ways of giving assignments to their students and grading them.
Google Classroom is now the number one application in the Play Store in the category of education. (Source: The Hindustan Times). Earlier, the application was not so popular, but after the decision of Indian universities, including Delhi University, to host classes using this application, there was a rise in the number of downloads across India.
Google Assignments can be used by teachers to create and share assignments with their students. Teachers who are concerned with students copying work done by other students and passing it off as their own are no longer worried, as Google scans the work submitted by the students to identify whether it matches with text on the web. A G Suite account is required to start reviewing students’ assignments and give personalized feedback to them.
3. A boost in online classes through platforms like Zoom
With a plethora of applications to be able to learn during the lockdown, there is no excuse left for students to not focus on their academics. Online classes are being held by teachers on platforms like Zoom and Skype. This ensures that students stay productive until they are confined to the four walls of their homes.
Zoom has made it even easier for educational institutions to conduct classes by temporarily removing the 40-minute time limit on the basic plan that it offers to its users.
Apart from this special offer for educators, Zoom has also started writing blogs on how educators can make the most out of Zoom. This is an online marketing strategy to make educators feel more comfortable with using the platform. Since both teachers and students have not been exposed to such a situation where online learning has been the only savior for them, this step by Zoom will help build a solid customer base for the application.
4. Online courses are being offered at low costs or for free (e.g. Coursera)
In the view of the coronavirus pandemic that has affected millions of students around the globe, companies have started offering free courses to students. Coursera is one company that is free courses, such as The Science of Well Being, Social Psychology, Marketing Analytics, and many more. The time period for enrolling in these courses for free is till the end of July.
While learners still need to pay to be able to receive a certificate after the completion of the course, Coursera is not just able to promote itself during a difficult time but is also able to offer courses that people need the most. For instance, psychology and well-being courses will enable people to look at the world with an enhanced outlook during the pandemic.
Another benefit to students enrolling in these courses is that they can get peer feedback from students doing the same course and have to grade other students in order to obtain a certificate as well. This approach to education enables students to understand the mistakes that they are making as well as understand how assignments are graded by their teachers. Since teachers are not given the monotonous task of grading assignments in such cases, more efforts can be made to increase the quality of education and the course content instead. Artificial intelligence enables multiple-choice questions to be automatically graded by the computer system as well. The automatic generation of results saves time for the students who can automatically begin with pursuing the next course of their choice.
5. Companies are offering discounts on e-learning courses
Do you remember downloading an application for a particular purpose but buying another product/service instead? This is a clever strategy used by companies to promote themselves through a well-known brand name.
Famous companies like Paytm are now offering discounts on the services of companies in the education sector. Eventually, this leads to an increase in website traffic for the company promoting itself through a popular platform.
Image Source: Paytm’s Website
6. Augmented reality is gaining more popularity
Would you rather learn from a textbook or learn by watching objects in a “close-up” view?
I’m sure that most of us would prefer to opt for the latter. None of us would enjoy detailed descriptions of an object. It’s what being able to see the object that would help us.
Augmented reality makes virtual environments look more realistic in nature. It is more popularly used in the entertainment industry and in robotics but has now expanded its scope to include the education industry. Since young children are more attracted to visuals and videos rather than text, this tool could actually lead to a more interactive method of education, which is more likely to be remembered by students than cramming up some lines of their books.
An article by the Indian Express mentioned that BBC has now launched an application called BBC Civilizations. This application is available for both Android and iOS. Artifacts like Egyptian mummies can be seen in a 3D-mode.
While the coronavirus has meant that there are rapid changes taking place in the education industry, it is important to note that a low Internet speed, lack of access to computers and a lack of understanding of how digital platforms work could affect the education of many students, especially those who are not financially well off or who belong to rural areas. India still needs to make efforts to ensure that digital learning becomes easier for its students. One of the biggest threats to the online education platforms is whether or not students and educators would be willing to focus on e-learning once the pandemic subsides and schools and universities re-open in the country. In India, online learning is a forced change and the online marketing tactics may or may not be able to capture the attention of learners and educators once normalcy has been restored in the country. What’s clear is that both online and offline platforms will be used in a way that maximizes the potentials of both online and offline methods of education.
What do you think the future of education will be like? Will we stop relying upon whiteboards and blackboards, or will we keep prioritizing a classroom with actual teachers and students present over virtual classrooms?