Edtech platforms are now looking beyond the market of mid-career professionals looking to upgrade their skills. They’re now tying up with colleges and universities to offer courses to students aimed at making them industry-ready, giving them experience in the field through projects, and filling in gaps that remain in existing university syllabi, particularly in the non-metro regions. In addition, they’re helping youngsters prepare for national and state-level entrance exams.
Institutes like Lovely Professional University (LPU) and Manipal university have tied up with edtech platforms like Coursera, SimpliLearn and UpGrad to offer courses in data science, digital marketing, business analytics and lean management.
The idea is to keep the students in touch with niche areas and specialisations not covered on mainstream campuses. “Partnering with these organisations means we can give our students access to the best lectures in the world as some of these organisations have access to the top international universities,” says Pratham Mittal, head of new initiatives at LPU.
There are different ways that a student can sign up. One way is to take up an optional course which gives them a certificate. Another is to enrol in a course that involves a project.
“A lot of colleges ask students to go out into the field for an industry-specific project as part of their curriculum, but it can be difficult to find the right opportunity. So a student can take up a course with us that involves a project and get the required experience and certification,” says Krishna Kumar, CEO of SimpliLearn.
Though the courses so far are limited largely to management and engineering, the edtech companies are working on covering new courses including popular professional courses such as catering and hospitality.
One challenge that remains for students is the discipline to complete what they take up, says Padmakumar K, head of the department of corporate communication at the Manipal School of Communication. “These courses, though very useful, are not compulsory and don’t add to your grades. Since they are rigorous, some students lose the drive to finish them. We keep working on ways to egg them on to finish what they take up.”
Organisations like TestBook, meanwhile, are helping students in smaller towns prepare for public service exams. They have tied up with over 200 cyber cafes in states like Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh for students who have no access to good internet and for others they have modules in the vernacular in video and text format. They even have small packages for popular platforms like Tiktok to show how a problem can be solved fast or to explain concepts in an entertaining way.
“We are targeting two sections of aspirants — one in the metros and state capitals, who access our app organically; and the other from small towns and villages who even have to travel to nearby cities like Bhopal, Patna and Varanasi for exam preparation. For them we are working out different ways to share modules,” says Ashutosh Kumar, CEO of TestBook. “We have tied up with cyber cafés and coaching centres and have also worked out a voucher model with prepaid coupons so students can access and pay for the modules in their towns. We will now be looking to partner with the degree colleges in the districts.”
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