When we hear the word "education" the first thing which comes to the mind is a "formal system of education"- going to school, colleges, engineering colleges etc.
I have subscribed to a bunch of blogs which I generally try to go through to keep myself updated on tech happenings across the world. Off late I noticed that there are quite a lot of education startups, not only in US but few in India as well. I have published the list at the bottom of this post which I found on Quora*.
Problems they are trying to solve?
If you go through their website, you would find that most of these startups are trying to solve the problem of :
- bringing the courses online to cater a large group of audience
- providing specialized courses like course on coding, K-12 learning
- innovating the way courses are delivered
- community based learning
What online education offers?
Before I discuss if there is a market (which surely is) for online education, we need to understand what it actually offers (the advantages) over the traditional way of delivering education rather how it augments it. One clear advantage is giving that personalized feeling, you feel you are tutored one-on-one rather than a class of 60 students. Another advantage is you get to learn from some of the best teachers who are teaching at the best universities. The third advantage I see is the time. Teachers save their time repeating the same thing again and again. In online medium, consumption is driven by the apetite of student. He chooses how fast to go and when to pause and repeat. There are other advantages as well like the availability of study materials for reference and the medium in which these study materials are delivered like "audio/video lectures" etc. This in turn increases the effectiveness of the course delivered. Teachers get to dedicate lot of time answering individual's doubt which is not the case in the class room education.
Is there a market ?
There is a niche market for online education startups. Let me put up some data regarding the internet users in the world (distribution based on regions). Asia has the highest internet users in the world. Somewhere the population is turning out to be boon in some way !
Another interesting view would be internet usage growth across different regions of the world. If you see the column below in red, it's increasing at a alarming rate which is a good sign.
India's online education market size is currently estimated at $20Bn and is expected to grow to $40Bn by 2017, so there is definitely a good opportunity out there to try something in this domain.
Probably we need to look at the problem in a little more specific context and then try to address a particular segment which could be in either community based teaching or providing specialized course or might be even building something upon crowdsourcing.