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A Welcome Disruption?

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Traditional instructor-led classroom trainings may get increasingly superseded by online or digital learning solutions.

Digitisation and personalisation in education

With only around 2% of the worldwide education industry digitised, there is plenty of scope for proliferation of technology across the education landscape. From 2015 to 2030, Citi analysts estimate that China, India and Brazil may see an increase of 56 million tertiary enrollment. At current levels, the physical tertiary infrastructure looks unlikely to be able to keep pace. The key to increasing productivity could be embracing technology. The internet could be leveraged as a cost-effective, highly scalable platform to deliver personalised education.

Citi analysts conducted a survey across five countries and 2,500 respondents, looking at attitudes towards education. The survey found that around two-third of respondents agree that educational apps could work as a supplement to formal education, while slightly over 20% of respondents felt it could substitute for formal education. Nearly 56% of respondents were open to considering an online education program for themselves and a similar percentage said they would consider an online program for their children too. Unsurprisingly, younger cohorts across both developed and emerging markets were slightly more receptive to the idea of an online education program.

Artificial intelligence (AI) also looks to be making its mark on education, with it being the fastest-growing sector in education and is expected to grow tenfold from $900 million in 2019 to $9 billion by 2030. AI tutoring systems are an example of how deep learnings can revolutionise the teaching process, by providing online intelligent chatbots or personalised lessons based on a student’s learning style.

According to Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet, CEO & Co-Founder, EdtechX Holdings and Operating Partner at IBIS Capital, over 75 AI-ED startups have launched since the start of 2018 and these companies are revolutionising the learning environment for both teachers and learners by offering AI-driven personalised learning content, enhanced learner engagement and monitoring, and valuable student data.

The view is echoed by Nadim Nsouli – Founder & CEO, Inspired (an education group), who sees technology as essential and complementary to their offering, enhancing both teaching and learning. “We are definitely customers of content in the classroom, personalised learnings, tracking, testing, etc.”

Education extends beyond a phase of life

Much of the academic work on the changing requirements for today’s workforce focuses on the importance of education to give students skills rather than simple knowledge. A key takeaway from Citi’s survey work is the changing attitudes toward on-the-job training and continuous professional development. More than half of respondents indicate they believe vocational training was becoming important relative to academic qualifications. Perhaps even more striking, over two-thirds considered a certification from a large company to be more trustworthy than a qualification from a traditional educational institution.

With careers becoming less linear and the knowledge body in an existing field becoming outdated faster, an employer should no longer aim to create learning programs and instead should look to curating the learning experience. For example, the learning management system could resemble a consumer website that provides content and access to experts, as well as personalised recommendations that help people find precisely what they need. Citi analysts observe that corporates are typing up with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), coding bootcamps and other technology oriented training solution providers for content and measurement of proficiency/mastery. VR and Gamification are two modalities that have not had a material impact on learning and development until now, but are expected to do so in coming years.

Indeed, with the half-life of a learned skill estimated at just five years, education is seen less as a phase of life and more of a lifelong endeavor and with that, learning programs look poised to evolve.