Online Education Thriving in India’s Small Cities

The adoption of online education might be slow in the United States, but in India online education providers are thriving. Courses delivered over the internet provide an unparalleled solution to the problem – common in India – of bringing academics to parts of the country too destitute or too remote to support a high-quality, well-funded university.

That the solution is working can be judged from the fact that the largest growth in online education is taking place in smaller cities and more rural parts of the country. According to providers, in the past year alone, the number of people who take advantage of online courses has more than doubled., one of the largest providers competing in the increasingly crowded online education marketplace, reports 90,000 new users joining every month.

It's been observed that Delhi accounts for the maximum number of registrations in the country with 20 percent of total online traffic on the website. Maharashtra is the second highest state with 11 to 12 percent users, followed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Each of these three state show 8 to 9 percent of users using e-learning websites.

Of the available courses, students are most interested in mathematics and science offerings, with English language a very close third. However, courses in humanities aren't nearly as popular, with many providers saying that they are the least requested courses out of the catalog.

The demand isn't limited to older students. Although the majority of interest is from those in the higher grades or even in college, parents are increasingly encouraging kids from lower grades to enroll in online courses as well.

Edukart, another online portal, has attracted about 10,000 users from small towns in India over the past one year. Ishan Gupta, Edukart spokesperson said, "In the recent years, we have seen small towns expressing need for assessment modules and animation videos to understand concepts in various subject. Hence, they see online education supplementing the formal one."

There's a strong support for expansion of online learning from both students and parents, according to Srishti, a student from Delhi Public School, says that the most enjoyable part of online courses is how they customize themselves to each student's level of skill. This ability to move at your own pace is in stark contrast to the traditional education paradigm in which a class effectively moves ahead at the pace of the slowest student in it. With online ed, those who need additional time to absorb material can get it, while those who learn quicker can move along using lecture videos and online exercises that change based on how quickly pupils learn.

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