WHEN MAHARASHTRA CLOSED EDUCATIONAL institutions from March 16 due to the coronavirus outbreak, Mumbai-based S.P.Jain Institute of Management & Research (Bhavan’s SPJIMR) went live with online classes the very next day. It could do so because of advance planning, but, more importantly, due to tie-up with technology enablers such as Zoom for meetings, TCS iON for enterprise resource planning (ERP), ExamSoft and eKOSH for online assessments and Padlet for collaboration among students.
SPJIMR is not alone. Technology providers are fast taking over B-school campuses with the promise of better student engagement and learning outcomes. The change has been happening for years, but the pandemic, and the need for technology to enable remote teaching, have encouraged them to press the pedal. “The pandemic made virtual examination platforms indispensable to education continuity for every institution and a lot of B-Schools started leveraging these,” says Siddhartha Gupta, CEO, Mercer | Mettl, remote proctoring and online examination partner of a number of leading B-schools.
The booming B-School segment that Mercer | Mettl is a part of has, apart from providers of specialised online courses such as Coursera, edEX and IIMBx, technology providers such as CoCubes that are using AI/ML to ensure students do not cheat during exams, and RemoteXs and McGraw Hill that are helping students access the best econtent globally with a few clicks.
The reason all these players are upbeat is simple. Technology spend at B-school campuses across India is expected to cross $100 million per year over the next five years by growing at 7 per cent a year, a market large enough to encourage innovation. For instance, Impartus, which offers interactive smart classes, has deployed its complete video conferencing solution in IIM-B, Manipal University, IFIM Bangalore, Jaipuria Institute of Management and Bharati Vidyapeeth University. The platform enables editing/distribution of content, apart from offering a discussion forum, content library, analytics and gamification of content. It charges $1,000 per month for online classes for 1,000 students annually. It also offers an offline-to-online model where it sets up a minimum of five classrooms. The set-up includes third-party hardware, software and online classes. The cost for hardware and software (one-time) is ₹20 lakh. This is in addition to a recurring fee of $1,000 a month. The offline-online model is effective for courses such as finance and operations, with equations and formulas, that cannot be taught using just Power Point presentations and involves setting up a few smart classrooms where a professor walks in and conducts his class on the board as students watch him live.
“The challenge with video conferencing apps such as Google Meet and Zoom is that a separate link and password is created for every class. As hundreds of links and passwords are being sent to students on a daily basis, there is need for automation,” says Teja Gudluru, Founder & CEO, UDo, which offers Deify Box, an ‘institution in a box’ solution with features such as online classes, recorded classes, library, assessments, code learning, fee collection and more.
Higher education institutes, catering to the digital-first generation, have opened up to investing in technology like never before. They are also looking to tap the rising number of working professionals investing in upskilling. Even corporates have now opened up to the idea of helping employees take higher education courses with the help of technology without hampering work. “The investment that B schools are making in technology should be given the same importance as investment in buildings and other facilities,” says Anindya Mallick, Partner, Deloitte India.
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November 01, 2020