Media mogul turned education entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala says coronavirus might have ushered a new era of online learning

Media mogul turned education entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala says coronavirus might have ushered a new era of online learning

  • Amid the outbreak of coronavirus, the only way ahead for every kind of business — including education — is online.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Ronnie Screwvala, co-founder of online learning platform upGrad explained how the pandemic will spark an online learning roar.
  • Screwvala also agrees that the completion rate for online courses is high at 80% — and is set to grow.
The outbreak of Coronavirus has declared a health emergency across the globe. If pandemic continues to spread, the only way ahead for every kind of business — including education — is online.

In an interview with Business Insider, Ronnie Screwvala, co-founder and chairman of online learning platform upGrad explained how the pandemic will spark an online learning roar. “From school closures to indefinitely postponed exams, the first thing that is affected when any kind of riots, climate change, pandemic hits a country is education,” he said.

In a world like that, the future of learning has gone online with the technology and innovation taking the centre stage. “That is going to be more in the future than ever,” he said.
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Disruption in the education space

Screwvala says that disruption in learning can be detrimental.

“If we don’t go to work for two days, it's one part. But in learning, there has to be a certain sense of discipline. If the access to faculty and learning is not there and the exams that students are preparing to get postponed by three months — that’s a major setback,” he said.
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Media mogul turned education entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala says coronavirus might have ushered a new era of online learning
Students wear masks to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, at a school in Vijayawada.Photo)(

This is where upGrad is trying to bridge the gap. He said that the edtech platforms are collaborating with universities to roll-out degree level courses. “It's not replacing universities, but the infrastructure of universities is still very limited with a certain number of seats available. Any university starts courses around June. On the other hand, edtech platforms like upGrad offer courses four different times a year and nothing gets disrupted,” he said.

This has given edtech a major push. Screwvala also agrees that the completion rate for such courses has also witnessed a growth. upGrad offers online degree in undergraduate and postgraduate courses and all fields of management.

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“upGrad has an 80% completion rate — and it is going to be higher. It's not a choice factor, it is a part of the degree course. Today, you can get a degree from university of Mumbai without coming to Mumbai. You can be in a small town and aspire to have a degree from top notch universities,” he said.

From the employer’s point of view

The pandemic has gone so deep that many companies asked employees to work from home and restrict travel. The virus has already affected people in over 75 countries and is showing few signs of slowing down.

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“More companies are asking their employees to work from home, believing that productivity won’t get affected — which means that this is the future of work and interaction where the companies no longer need to assemble people in places,” Screwvala said.

Given the concerns around coronavirus, the shares of video conferencing platforms — Zoom video and Skype also soared while the stocks of those mandating face to face interaction for business are plummeting, including automobiles and airlines. This explains how offices are leveraging online platforms.

According to Screwvala, the companies can also trade off the flexi work opportunity with office training. For instance, “Now that I have allowed you flexi hours, I need you to complete this online course. So work will get more demanding over time — and that is where efficiency will go up,” he explained.

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See also:
UN proposes distance learning as 290 million children in 22 countries are kept away from school due to Coronavirus

Ronnie Screwvala syncs with Finance Minister’s plan⁠— upGrad will roll out online degree courses this year

This Indian startup gains as students from Tier 2 and 3 cities opt for online digital courses
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