By Sushma Bharath
Of late various reports are coming across on Indian edtech companies collaborating with colleges and universities worldwide, including Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, Purdue and Caltech, among others.
I’ve often been asked the question: These universities are already internationally acclaimed, so what is in it for them in these collaborations with Indian edtech players?
Based on my limited interactions and understanding of the edtech space, one thing has become clear to me. Although they have a wealth of knowledge and are leaders in research across disciplines, all universities wish to have a larger impact as an educator and knowledge-disseminator on the world.
In the traditional education system today, students applying to universities often spend a hefty amount on tuition fees to just attend the live classes and be in the same classroom as some of the biggest names in academics. Good education is thus almost in a way ‘gated’, and only available to those who have the financial means or are incredibly talented or intelligent and have secured scholarships. But this can feel like an incomplete story.
There are two aspects to this. The first is democratisation of education. And that’s what’s motivating renowned universities to collaborate with edtech players. They have realised that this type of distribution of knowledge is necessary rather than exclusive. That true power and impact come from tackling the problem of scale and finding ways to spread the benefits of a superior learning experience. That their world-renowned faculty and pedagogical design should and can serve students not only within their hallowed halls, but also across the globe.
The second aspect relates to technology as well as digitisation of education. Some of these universities had realised the importance of online education way before the pandemic hit. Early adopters including many of the Ivy League universities always had a strong portfolio of online content. However, the pandemic has accelerated the development of online practices. Many universities were forced to move the delivery of several of their classes online, literally overnight—and that’s making many people wonder about the future possibilities. But it doesn’t detract from the fact that some of the best universities in the world may have always had access to stellar faculty, content and academic learning, but may not have the know-how or the business understanding of how to move the entire system online and become a digital education provider.
Universities can achieve this by partnering with edtech players that already know the best practices, have the platform and learning expertise, because they come from the technology and online education domain. Thus, both the entities gain from these collaborations as their strengths complement each other. The partnership becomes even stronger if the partner also has a strong industry base or understands the skills gap or has an educational foundation in the country. When you combine technology, an online learning platform, an industry-focused practical learning experience, pedagogical expertise and the pedigree you receive from the great academic institutions of our times, there’s never been a better time to make great things happen.
The author is head of Programs & Marketing at Hero Vired