Coursera's India MD sees 'blended campuses' thriving once the pandemic abates


  • In a post-corona world, online education will be blended with on campus schooling, believes Coursera India MD Raghav Gupta.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Gupta sees a massive growth on the platform even after lockdown ends.
  • The global edutech platforms also developed a new product within a week – Coursera Match, a machine learning solution to match on campus courses with those available online.
After the lockdown was announced, educational institutions in India had to change the way they taught students for hundreds of years, overnight. They had to let go of the classroom learning, and move online.

This will become the ‘new normal’, believes Raghav Gupta, India and APAC MD at Coursera.

“There is no doubt that education will not be the same in India, post the Covid-19 crisis. I think, till the time campuses are on lockdown, we will see 100% education being online but after that people should be thinking of a ratio where only 75%-80% of education will move back to campus when things normalise. This has been my recommendation to a lot of universities that I’ve been talking to,” Gupta told Business Insider in an interview.
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A blended learning approach
Raghav Gupta, MD, India and APAC, Coursera

Gupta added that online education can be blended with on-campus teaching as well. He reiterated what the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget speech spoke about online degrees being permissible from top 100 universities.

Sitharaman had said that India will launch ‘degree-level’ full-fledged online courses and that too by top 100 national rankings. This will help provide quality education to the underprivileged. This could soon turn into a reality thanks to the lockdown-push.

“So we will definitely see a longer-term shift in the way campuses think about the combination of on campus plus online education and how it is delivered,” he said.
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New products launched within a week
Emily Glassberg Sands, VP of Data Science at Coursera

As of April 16, Coursera has received over 7,500 requests from colleges and universities in India. It already has 1,696 programmes across hundreds of Indian campuses active on its platform.

But while there are so many campuses that come with the understanding of going online, there are many others who are finding the adoption difficult. After Coursera made its platform free for all on March 12, within days, it began to understand the pain-points of colleges and universities.

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“Institutions are also under a ton of strain to adapt to this new environment. One of the biggest challenges we hear schools face is curriculum management. They want to give students online courses that are as consistent with on campus learning as possible,” Emily Glassberg Sands, VP of Data Science at Coursera told Business Insider.

Within a week, they developed a new product – Coursera Match, a machine learning solution that ingests a school’s on-campus course catalogue and matches each course to the most relevant one within Coursera’s own catalogue of 3,800 courses.

“We at the very beginning heard about universities pulling in multiple staff members for multiple weeks to manually map their on-campus catalogue with the coursera catalogue and we knew that we needed to do this mapping much more rapidly. Not just for 1 or 2 but thousands of campuses with thousands,” said Emily.

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As a part of Coursera for Campus, they are also enabled private authoring. “We can bring our expertise and technology to enable the faculty to create their own content — short courses, full lessons and more. That means, the faculty can author the assessment - which can further be supplemented with a Coursera course that a student is taking. In this way, institutions can use their own resources to impart education,” said Gupta.

There’s a long way to go


A lot has changed in the Indian education sector, but there’s a long way to go for education to evolve in the country. India has 37 million students in the higher education segment, close to 50,000 colleges but a low gross enrollment rate at about 26%. And the government has talked about taking it up to 50%.

“There’s massive growth in the higher education sector and to be able to serve that is a larger opportunity. On the other hand, businesses are changing rapidly as well and development of skills for businesses is important as well. So we will see both, on campus and learning and dev for businesses continue to expand significantly,” said Gupta.
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Coursera has over 55 million users registered globally — including 6 million in India. “Over the past month we have seen a 6-fold increase – six times the learners individually enrolling on the platform,” said Emily.

As its numbers increase, Coursera is also set to hire 250 people globally.

See also:

From free content access to live sessions, here’s what online learning platforms are offering students who miss school
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Over 1,225 universities sign up with Coursera in India, enrollments in public health content shoot up by a whopping 2280%

100 online courses from Coursera are $0 now through May 31 - here's a list of all the classes open for free enrollment
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