Future of education – The Digital Hybrid Cohort Model

There’s no denying it: tech is cool. More so because the way it has metamorphosed education and learning has been even more phenomenal.

Because if you’re a learner now, the world is in your hands. It’s choices galore: you can pick courses offered by the best universities and experts, learn about anything you want to, be it general or niche. (There’s this one on Coursera for instance, that teaches you how to biohack your brain and a whopping 80,000 learners have already enrolled for it. There are some really out-of-the-box courses out there!) And all at your convenience: date, time, location.

Today, online courses are being offered by the best universities and experts, and help you learn about anything you want to, be it general or niche. Like this course on biohacking the brain, in Coursera.

But I spoke about all that in my last blog. Today, let’s delve a little deeper. Let’s look at Google’s course on digital marketing. It’s free and among the best in the world (and many vouch for it). Yet I know people in villages in India who spend up to INR 100,000 (USD 1,350) for three months, investing in a physical classroom course on the very same topic. So what’s missing here? 

Lots of things, it turns out. And that’s what I will be talking about in this blog: digital is great, but that alone just won’t make the cut. Let me also introduce you to Edurupt, and where I see Edurupt plugging such gaps in the grander scheme of things.

The missing pieces

But first, let’s talk about online learning in general. It’s a market that is estimated to exceed USD 1 trillion by 2027. Many courses feature recorded video classes, while others involve live classes that participants can attend in real time.

The former – courses featuring recorded videos – are a breeze when it comes to implementation. Produce high-quality videos (that’s just a one-time investment) and millions of learners can access the same videos any number of times.

But I believe that such scalable models will not solve the learning or education problem for the masses. Let me tell you why. 

One is that only a small subset of people are self-motivated to learn this way. And this becomes particularly magnified in the Indian context where rote learning is already imbibed in children from a very young age.

Such learning is also lonely. There are no classmates to talk to, or an instructor to guide you. So even if the course content itself is world class – like Google’s digital marketing course is – it will not solve the education problem. It’s when the loneliness of learning sets in that people don’t complete courses. Only a very small percentage of the people who sign up for a course really complete it (according to one estimate, only between 5 to 15 percent of learners complete the free open online courses they begin).

The other common model is a live class: you either go to a physical institute or participate in a live online class, where an expert on the subject personalizes the content and delivers it. But the quality of such lessons depends entirely on the instructors: they have to be outstanding. And even then, how do you scale up this model? You need to pay well for the best teachers. And time is a constraint too: learners (and instructors) have to be available at the exact time for a live class as compared to the other one.

And there’s another missing piece in all this. What about classmates? Learning from peers may be oft-overlooked and underestimated, but it is an extremely crucial part of learning. In fact, some of my best learnings in college have been when I worked with my peers as a team, for group projects and assignments. It was no different six years later while I pursued my MBA at the Hult International Business School in Europe too. Every course featured group assignments and we learnt a lot from each other’s knowledge and perspectives.

Studies increasingly show that collaborative and peer to peer learning are critical, and important regardless of which fields of study you undertake.

Studies increasingly show how important both collaborative and peer to peer learning are. A recent one shows that undergrad students were more accurate and confident about their answers after discussions with their learning partner than they were before. And the importance of peer learning holds regardless of what field you’re in: interviews with elite footballers in the Bundesliga, Germany’s top football league, showed that knowledge-sharing (including imitating and observing their teammates) positively impacts the players’ development and performance.

Hybrid is the future

So digital alone doesn’t cut it. And people now recognize that — edtech companies that launched with just pre-recorded video-courses on tablets, for instance, now offer live classes. 

But that’s not all: I believe that the other factors we talked about, including instructor-quality and interactions with peers, are all crucial.

So bring the best of all these together, and you get gold: what I call the digital hybrid cohort model. This model features courses that contain digital lessons as well as live, instructor-led ones. And introducing a cohort system here means that learners can potentially have access to something extra — their own peers, from other corners of the world; an online e-peer community or cohort they can learn and grow with. 

At Edurupt, we bring the best of these worlds together. Let me explain that in more detail.

There are some concepts that are very simple and lend themselves best to a video-based lesson. Just watch its video for two minutes, and you’re done. There’s flexibility for learners and you don’t need a teacher at this stage; going digital this way makes this super-scalable.

Screenshot from Edurupt’s German Course in the Digital Hybrid Cohort Model

Then, once a week or so, comes a live, instructor-led session. A well-qualified subject matter expert helps you understand the advanced concepts or just check in on your knowledge. You get the advantage of a guide. Since there’s no need to bank on live sessions alone, it reduces teaching hours – reducing costs by one-fourth to one-eighth. That’s the power of hybrid.

At the same time, there is a cohort, a community of peers, for every lesson. We’re enabling students to take their classmates home. With that we bring the value of learning in a group: you can discuss with peers and explore concepts further. Moreover, motivation is never an issue when your classmates and instructor are checking in on you. Our language courses will be the first to launch in this pattern — so do look out for them!

I believe that the digital hybrid cohort model will be a game changer here. That’s how Edurupt was born, with a vision to address these very gaps in online education, and to make it accessible and affordable.

Armed with such digitally scalable, hybrid and cohort-based courses, we want to provide affordable high quality, skill-based education to people.

That, ultimately, is Edurupt’s vision.