New Delhi: In the past two years as Covid-19 has pushed the world to look for virtual alternatives to real world experiences, routines, tasks and services, one of the sectors that has benefited from the push towards digital living and learning has been edtech or education Technology – a term related to the system of online educational services.
India’s edtech industry, valued at $ 750 million in 2020, is projected to reach $ 4 billion by 2025, according to a report released by the India Brand Equity Foundation in November 2021. Another report published by the Center for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) claims that there are currently 4,530 edtech startups operating in India, of which 435 have sprung up in the last two years alone.
Classes on these platforms span five broad areas of education: school education, higher education, skills education, preparing for competitive exams, and learning non-academic subjects (such as singing, playing instruments, and speaking a new language).
It is interesting, however, that these edtech portals not only allow students to refresh their skills and knowledge from the comfort of their own home, but the industry also offers employment opportunities for many people with a teaching or academic background.
Many with a previous corporate or other professional background have been encouraged to migrate to these platforms, said those associated with these edtech portals.
While a job in the country’s formal education system by teachers or professors has a B.Ed. (for schools) or a NET or PhD degree (for universities), edtech platforms do not see the lack of these qualifications as a limiting factor in recruiting teachers.
Rather, the desired qualification of a faculty member depends on the type of skills / learning opportunities offered by the respective platform. Those associated with major edtech platforms told ThePrint that a large number of the people who teach for them have no academic background and have not taught professionally in the past.
The edtech sector in India is currently not regulated by the government, although Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said last week that the government plans to put in place a common policy regulating these platforms.
In the absence of this, the remuneration also fluctuates sharply – 30,000 rupees to 1.5 lakh rupees or even more per month, according to the administrative director of such a platform – but the fact that bankers, engineers and researchers have been attracted to make a career change suggests indicate that payment is satisfactory.
“Many join for specific skills and knowledge base”
35-year-old banker Sandeep Vardhan switched to edtech instructor last year after having worked at various investment firms for a decade. He teaches college students banking and finance and helps them prepare for entrance exams.
Another edtech platform’s faculty pool, UNext, which caters to college students and working professionals, is a mixed bag that includes both past teachers and non-teachers. Bhaskaran Srinivasan, Chief Academic Officer and Faculty Member at UNext, said, “The majority of us have no academic background. Many people come from other industries and come to the platform because of their specific skills and their field of knowledge. “
Bhaskaran himself is a qualified engineer with over 28 years of product development experience and 11 years of working with the Manipal Group of Institutions. He had never taught professionally before joining the Manipal group and then UNext.
While a B.Ed. or another comparable pedagogical training, the lack of which a possible applicant is not blamed on recruitment.
“As such, we have no rule that B.Ed. or PGCE, but of course there is an additional benefit in interviews if they are B.Ed. or BTC along with a technical degree, ”said Anurag Gupta, co-founder of STEMROBO Technologies, an edtech platform that teaches students skills such as programming and robotics.
“Because we’re interested in robotics, AI, and engineering degrees, we usually look for candidates who have experience or qualifications in their fundamentals, good communication skills and the ability to deal with children. He or she should also be able to understand child psychology, ”he added.
The reason for the different selection criteria for teachers between traditional educational institutions and edtech platforms, according to a teacher on one of the platforms, is the “difference” in the type of teaching in traditional and online education.
On condition of anonymity, the teacher said: “Teachers in schools and colleges prepare students for life and enable them to take on any role in their future. While teachers impart a very specific type of skills or knowledge on edtech platforms. “
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“Was nervous about the first day”
While the relatively loose hiring criteria can facilitate a transition for those with a passion for teaching but who have no professional background, nervousness on the first day is common and something that years in another job cannot alleviate.
Lavish Madan worked for a company in India for two years after receiving his Masters in Economics from UC Berkeley. However, the job didn’t satisfy him and in 2020 he joined an edtech platform that helps students prepare for GMAT and CAT exams.
As an introvert, Madan’s transition to teaching was not a smooth one. He remembered his first day of teaching and told ThePrint, “I was really nervous. Although I was supposed to turn on my computer camera and introduce myself, I didn’t and told my students that there was a problem with my camera. I realize that this is a luxury that I could not have had without an online teaching platform. “
More than a year later, he has a constant challenge to find out “whether the students have understood a concept or not”.
“They turn off their cameras so I can’t see them and the extroverts talk a lot, but the introverts don’t talk. That’s part of the class I’m still trying to find out about, ”said Madan.
Gauging student understanding is something that even the most confident and experienced faculty will often admit to be challenging.
For Vardhan from UNext, the interaction was not a challenge. “It was more or less like a boardroom presentation,” said the 35-year-old former banker. “On my first day, I told them about myself why I changed my career and how they, like me, can be successful in finance.”
But when he started teaching, he often doubted whether his students could follow him. “Breaking down complex concepts into simpler ideas was a challenge for the students. What is easy for me may not be easy for learners and I had to understand that, ”he said.
His words are repeated by Divyajyoti Mishra, Senior Innovation Engineering Teacher at STEMROBO, who has a B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Technology. In his first days as a teacher – he started in 2016 – he said it was a challenge for him to simplify complex concepts for young students.
“I teach young children concepts like programming, robotics and artificial intelligence. The module that we are developing has to do justice to the understanding of young children … that was a challenge at first, but things are better now, ”said Mishra, who now reports to 10 other employees.
Perhaps it is important to realize that “whether it is a physical or an online lesson, the core of it remains the same, that is, the lesson,” said Sankar N. Krishna, teacher and VP of Product Development at BYJU’S, who works with the platform for about seven years now.
Krishna, who has a PhD in life sciences from Northwestern University, said he “came back to India to pursue my passion for teaching.” “Today I’m teaching biology and chemistry for high school and science for grades 6-10 through the BYJU learning app. The ongoing pandemic has proven to be a turning point for the education sector,” he said.
“More flexibility, better pay”
While the edtech boom has opened up whole new career opportunities for those with a non-educational background, it has also created more job options for teachers.
Smriti Desai, a 39-year-old school teacher from Delhi, joined an edtech platform in 2020 after teaching at various private schools across the country for 15 years.
Desai, who works on a platform for K-12 (Kindergarten through Grade 12) education, said, “Even regular school teachers have had to move to online classes, create PPTs, and change the way they interact with students, so thought me why not In a role that gives me flexibility in terms of my working hours and also pays me more. I joined the current edtech company I work with in September 2020. “
One of the main reasons for moving from Desai is the flexibility the platform offers. Since her job is to prepare students for entrance exams, she sometimes pre-records her lectures when she is unable to attend a live class.
The financial benefits associated with the job are an added bonus, she said.
“Teachers’ salaries depend on a few things, the company they work for, the role they are employed in (full-time or part-time) and their qualifications,” said the chief administrative officer of an edtech platform quoted above.
A senior faculty member on another platform told ThePrint that those teaching specialized subjects like robotics and AI can earn up to Rs 4 lakh in a day.
“But that is on a very high level … such examples are few, but there are,” said this teacher. “When people quit their corporate jobs and join these platforms, there is definitely some financial gain that they come for.”
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)
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