From the time the pandemic spread across the globe in March 2020, a majority of countries announced temporary closure of schools, impacting more than 91% students worldwide. As per the United Nations, close to 1.6 billion children and youth were not attending schools by April 2020. Never before have so many children been out of school and colleges at a given time, disrupting learning and upending lives.
Catering to this global demand, the Ed-tech sector seized the opportunity and came to the forefront to provide solutions, allowing the majority of education players to move online. Ed-tech start-ups launched free content for students with the intent of not only helping with their learning process, but also to increase their subscription numbers.
Personalized learning is the future of global education system
With the education system transforming completely, the prospects seem brighter, when we talk about India as a destination for the education sector. Further to this, Ed-tech brands are poised for double digit growth during and post Covid-19. It won’t be an exaggeration to suggest that the growth of e-learning platforms has been one of the most prominent narratives of the pandemic.
Despite the majority of businesses facing tough times due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ed-tech startups have witnessed extraordinary growth and emerged as a hot sector for venture capital firms to invest in. Indian Ed-tech startups have collectively raised over $795 million in the first half of 2020, as compared to $108 million in the previous year. Byju, Unacademy, Toppr, and Vedantu etc have raised funding during COVID-19 times, and the scope to amplify the business and funding news has been a bright spot for communicators. News relating to funding is usually received well in the media if it is planned well by the brand and its PR partner.
“Survive and thrive” has become the new mantra for education and e-learning players today. India’s second most valued unicorn start-up, Byju’s, has seen a 150% growth since March 2020,which is a phenomenal accomplishment! With a change in the education ecosystem,
Personalized Learning has emerged as one of the prominent trends in the $170 billion global Ed-tech industry.
With learning becoming more personalized, interesting mediums are emerging in the ecosystem. Knorish, a SaaS company is providing a platform to experts for conducting their courses. Well-known experts and celebrities such as a former Ms. India have earned hundreds of thousands of rupees in just the first few days, by imparting courses sitting at home during Covid-19.
The widespread proliferation of Ed-tech has also led to an increase in its affordability. Learners and students have realized the value brought in by personalized learning and they are willing to pay more for the experience and visible engagement. Moreover, with technology having the ability to scale and achieve greater accessibility across the country, the cost has considerably come down during Covid-19.
‘PR and Communication’ lens for ‘online education and ‘personalized learning’
Personalized learning is still at a nascent stage in our country, however, the current COVID situation has brought in a considerable shift in mindset towards education. Both parents and students now view education as a tool that can be utilized anywhere, through any medium and across all age groups.
Major modifications have occurred in the education system due to the pace of digitization this year. The content has moved online and hence, a significant change has been witnessed in the way we conduct PR for Ed-tech clients and specific learning concepts. There has been a spike in terms of education providers opting for media visibility, and their outreach strategy has changed drastically in the past few months. PR strategists are targeting new-age mediums such as podcasts, webinars, large format online video interviews, ‘ask me anything’ sessions, etc for their Ed-tech clients.
A major communication trend since the beginning of COVID-19 has been the alteration of the messaging strategy of Ed-tech companies. Earlier, it was about business numbers and gaining subscribers, which has changed to messaging about ‘Being there’ and helping students with free content and class logins to continue their studies. Consequently, the personalized approach of ‘trust-building’ with the key stakeholders, has been the strategy in communication.
Further to this, the opportunity for business growth and the scope of going into the hinterlands of the country has increased significantly. With more than 52% internet penetration in India, educational requirements have broadened for students across the country. Ed-tech brands are targeting students in Tier II and III who are aspiring for JEE, NEET entrance examinations, and those have an access to a mobile phone or laptop. Similarly, the communication prospects have widened pan-India, while a larger focus highlighting regional PR content in local languages is emerging as a consequence.
With boundaries blurring between offline and online education, there is a need to create dialogue at the policy level, wherein a public-private partnership focus will yield better results and provide seamless education experience to students.
Teacher training is another area in the personalized learning sphere, which can be highlighted through PR strategies, to draw the attention of relevant stakeholders for the issues faced by teachers in various institutions.
- Reegal Ranjan is a Vice President at Value360 Communications and has over 14 years of experience in crafting communicaton strategies for both global brands and startups.