EdTech is 70% learning and 30% teaching: Arjun Mohan

Mohan, CEO-India, upGrad, shares insights on the changing perception towards the education of working professionals, challenges in building brand upGrad and more

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Nov 25, 2021 9:19 AM
Arjun Mohan, upGrad CEO

exchange4media Group is curating a series of video interviews, ‘e4m Dialogues’. In the fifth part of this series, Arjun Mohan, CEO - India, upGrad shares multiple insights on upGrad: Reskilling India’s Workforce. 

The EdTech sector in India has evolved manifold with the face of education changing in the last few years and the pandemic acting as a catalyst in the reboot. Digital is now gradually becoming an acceptable form of imparting and receiving education. Therefore, it becomes obvious that players like upGrad who have built their brand on the proposition of digitally upskilling working professionals is leveraging this shift in perception.

However, it’s not all bed of roses and Mohan shares the challenges that come in the way of EdTech companies in India. He says “If education is 50-50, EdTech is 70% learning and 30% teaching and that’s part of the model. We have to adapt and use technology in the right way so that effectiveness is delivered with this ratio in mind. Students consuming education through technology have to be supremely motivated and that is why higher education has better outcomes. This is also the reason why EdTech is so outcome-driven and that is exactly where the challenge lies, but there is also a hefty number of opportunities. Investing in yourself after getting a job is not a part of the Indian culture and that is the same with investing in education as a professional. However, now this is changing with ambition-driven professionals and the culture is slowly building in India.”

Sharing insights on whether upGrad is an enabler or a provider, says Mohan “These are questions that we ask ourselves every day, we are sure there will be a trend shift in a few years. We don’t see it from the perspective of an enabler or a provider but from the perspective of the consumer. The customer needs an outcome and in some time from now, there will be acceptability for upGrad.  But it is a process and we are constantly listening and upgrading and letting the customers take us through that process.”

In a business highly dependent on the subscriber’s motivation to take or finish a particular course, measuring success also depends on them. Adds Mohan “The objective of education is actually to build that self-discipline apart from teaching a skill or sharing the knowledge. The completion reason for players like us is extremely high as compared to other EdTech platforms. We have about 89% course completion rate and that is because we have put in efforts to build the model like that with various steps like a mentor,  peer learning etc to ensure that learners are building that kind of discipline and finishing their course.”

Further sharing the challenges in scaling upGrad, Mohan shares “Scaling up was a huge challenge for us, especially in times of a pandemic. We had to bring the entire working system online within two weeks, from getting everyone to work from home to getting all our software on the cloud. But the larger challenge lies in the fact that we were mostly catering to Tech-based professionals, but with increasing penetration and non-tech learners joining, it required us to change our approach. The customer itself is changing and we are constantly making efforts for changing with them.”

Mohan concludes the session by talking about the need for a change in behavioural mindset towards education in India, Says “These are the deeper problems we need to solve for our people. The final goal of education usually in India is a job, or a good earning. Gradually, there is a change happening, people do realise that they need to invest as education is not a stage but it’s a continuous process. When something becomes a continuous process, it gets inculcated as a habit and that is what we are trying to do - build a habit of lifelong learning. We may not overtly say that yes we are changing the mindset, but that is what we are aiming for as well.”

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