Education is the pillar that provides the base for a person’s all-round development. In India, it is a fundamental right for every child to get an education until they are fourteen. Our education sector has seen massive changes in the last two decades. The schools and universities now offer much better facilities and a wide range of educational programs. There has been an exponential growth in the number of universities opened recently. However, the education curriculum hasn’t seen many changes. The courses and the syllabus are still far from what is being followed in the current market. If we use Clayton Christensen’s Disruptive Innovation Framework (Christensen, n.d.), we see the programs offered by the schools and universities are over serving the market.
The basic requirement of schooling and graduation is that students must learn about the course and get experiential knowledge that they can implement in their future. But the current schools and universities are focusing more on high-end facilities and infrastructure which are not part of the basic requirement. Such educational programs were available in the past, and they also catered to the same needs, but currently, universities are adding more and more features that are not required.
A few examples of the over served market in the education industry are the development of unnecessary infrastructure and the year-on-year increase in fees without making any change in the course structure. Thus, the product, i.e., education and the consumer, i.e., the student, and the willingness to pay by the guardians are still low, which opens the way for disruptive innovation.
The great resignation reflection
The growth of MOOCs (massive open online course) is low-end disruption, which means “businesses that come in at the bottom of the market and serve customers in a way that is good enough." These are generally the lower profit markets for the incumbent, and thus, when these new businesses enter, the incumbents move further upstream. In other words, they put their focus on where the greater profit margins are”.(Christensen, n.d.).
Following COVID-19, it was predicted that the growth in the world’s economies and job market would be slow as the pandemic has affected most industries, but the IT job market exploded. Digital transformation requirements across the globe fueled this rise in demand for a skilled workforce, and what we are witnessing is globally termed as the ‘great resignation’. Companies are hunting for knowledgeable and skilled employees, and the employees are taking these opportunities to learn niche skills from these MOOCs. Companies are now focusing on knowledgeable employees rather than those with degrees. This is where MOOCs come and fill the gap in knowledge requirements.
Another reason for the growth of MOOCs is that in a regular course or a full-time graduation course, the students are supposed to learn all the subjects of course, whether they like or plan to specialize in that or not. Thus, they have to pursue the additional course forcefully. There is no relief in fees, which makes the educational program expensive. With the introduction of online educators, they can choose to study the course they plan to specialize in. Also, since the studies are online, they save on the commute hours and can take up additional courses, becoming more productive. With full-time incumbent universities, students don't get this freedom.
MOOCs have a long chain of retail products that offer students the option to choose whatever course they like, which were earlier restricted to a few universities. A student can graduate from a university of his/her liking without paying higher fees. They even have the option to choose foreign universities that MOOCs offer. A student can also study at their ow pace and can tailor the course to their individual needs. Thus, they can focus more on their weak areas and excel.
On a positive note, we are seeing the schools and colleges are now implementing the next-generation engagement software, such as Blackboard, Google Classroom, etc. They enable much better collaboration between students and teachers and provide better features. Some companies have also introduced AR/VR, providing better participation and engagement.
With COVID-19 and the digital transformation, MOOCs have seen massive growth and gained momentum where they are now ready to challenge the incumbents. We could easily say that these are the future, and they are here to stay. Incumbents will have to adapt to the newer ways, or they may soon face stiff competition from new entrants.