The outbreak of Covid-19 has been disastrous for most businesses, however one industry that is witnessing growth with people staying at home is edtech. Edtech platforms for working professionals are recording greater usage with more enrolments as well as a more diverse user base, says Hari Krishnan Nair, co-founder, Great Learning. "We are making our content available for free to users during this time; a large number of professionals who have not experienced e-learning before are taking out time, enrolling and experimenting with the format," he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interview. Excerpts:
What prompted you to offer free courses on your platform?
A study conducted last year on hiring trends in the analytics sector in India revealed that close to 97,000 positions were vacant due to a dearth of qualified talent. This indicates that the idea of up-skilling in new age skills has not yet penetrated deep enough when it comes to college students and working professionals. Great Learning is trying to change this by offering them a taste of how upskilling can work for them, with Great Learning Academy.
Great Learning Academy is our free-of-cost learning resource, through which we have offered over 30 introductory and intermediate level courses and industry case studies accessible to everyone. These courses are created by leading academicians and industry experts and cover emerging digital skills such as data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, cyber security, digital marketing and others. As students and professionals are stuck at home and have extra time on their hands, we feel that we can help them make the most of the otherwise gloomy environment out there. The objective of Great Learning Academy is to make high-quality learning accessible for all. Be it a working professional or a college student, we hope that everyone is able to jumpstart their learning and upskill themselves to give a boost to their careers.
Do you feel that students and working professionals are using the extra time in hand to upskill themselves? What kind of traction is Great Learning witnessing for its content after it has been made free?
Over the past month, we have witnessed an increased interest from users wanting to use their time to learn and upskill. This trend is also evident across all of our learning offerings including the free courses as well as paid courses. We have seen a 3x increase in content consumption across the platform. With the launch of GL Academy, we have witnessed a 100% increase in learners consuming our learning content. Given this tremendous response in such a short period of time, we look forward to adding more courses and further supporting these enthusiastic learners.
Since you also work with corporates, how are they dealing with this change? While the business obviously suffers, are they seeing this as an opportunity to train their staff in new skills and have they taken steps in this regard?
In the current situation, given the unprecedented magnitude of changes around us all, most corporates are still trying to ensure business continuity and normalise business operations. While most of them are committed to train their staff in these digital skills, the current focus is very much on planning for business continuity. Once this transition phase passes, we will start seeing more interest and concrete actions taken by corporates towards continuous learning and upskilling of their employees.
Do you see the current situation will make Indians more comfortable with online learning? Or will things go back to offline after the situation improves?
I think the current constraints will force all of us to start learning online. Online learning today has come a long way since the early days and we at Great Learning have seen that online learning, when delivered well, can be as effective as traditional learning. As more Indians experience high quality online learning programs, their confidence in this 'new way of learning' will increase thereby making continuous learning far more accessible and prevalent than what it's today.