Let’s Understand the Dynamics of Online Learning Marketplace
In a recent TV commercial about Cancer Diagnostic, GE shares a simple truth about technology: “…it doesn’t discriminate between people, no matter who they are, where they’re from…technology opens the door every day and tells that there is hope…”
It is an undeniable fact that technology doesn’t discriminate, offering its benefits (and limitations), to everybody who come to explore it.
A classic example is the recent revolution in technology-enabled marketplace, that has ushered in a newer paradigm for the consumers.
A MARKETPLACE EXPERIENCE:
I intended to buy a Sony tab from <ebay.in> where it was being offered at a much lower price than the MRP. It was as good as bought, but then the skeptic me prompted me to check the same commodity on a ‘partner site’ – <snapdeal.com> – which, fortunately, was offering the same thing at a price lower than eBay. Finally, I got my Sony Tab from Snapdeal!
As a buyer, I was delighted by the choice offered by both the marketplace sites! Eventually, both the sites found a loyal and a returning customer in me. Such is the impact of marketplace. Sellers aim to satisfy the customers, while doing the right business. Quality and best price are two main ingredients of a successful marketplace. It gives an ideal win-win conclusion to both buyers and sellers.
Before correlating this marketplace phenomenon with learning marketplace, I would like to share a talk by Prof Prem Vrat, Vice Chancellor, ITM University. In his talk during the last year’s World Education Summit, he shared a research done on the Private Engineering Colleges in India, regarding an Importance-Performance matrix. The outcome was shocking:
The following table will try to elaborate the same:
% Importance (R-Square)
Rank Priority (What should be)
% Score on 5 point scale
Rank Priority (What actually it is)
Quality of faculty
Teaching Learning Process
Quality of admissions
The research was published in the May 2013 issue of Industrial Engineering Journal. The outcome of this research is alarming for the complete education fraternity. The unthoughtful commercialization of education has affected the primary purpose of education. ‘Physical Infrastructure’ has replaced the ‘Quality of faculty’ in today’s educational institutions. The objectivity of education has been marred by this maligned intrusion of ‘business vendors’ in education, who neither understand education nor respect it.
AM I AGAINST THE EDUCATION-BUSINESS?
No, I am not against Education-business, but what worries me is the loss of focus from the primary purpose of education. Since I promised at the start of this article, a correlation of technology and hope, I shall now try to summarize this with ‘hope’ at hand!
ONLINE LEARNING MARKETPLACE (OLM)
OLM is a place where knowledge-transaction is considered as the primary purpose of the business. The conventional mentality sometimes hesitates to accept students as consumers, and teachers as sellers. But the fact remains unchanged that in knowledge transaction, students consume the knowledge imparted by the teacher. Here, in this transaction, the sole evaluation happens on the basis of knowledge gained by the students, nothing else. This way, any impurity in this noble business is curbed.
The following example will illustrate how an OLM (online learning marketplace) benefits both the communities; students and teachers/teaching institutes:
Let us suppose there is an Online Course on Robotics available on the OLM, from a premier institute like IIT; priced at US$800.
A similar course on Robotics, with similar modules, is also available, but from a non-reputed Institute/individual (Say XYZ); priced at Rs US$16o.
The online marketplace is a smart ecosystem. Based on a built-in algorithm, it promotes the course from IIT, to students interested in the field of ‘Robotics’. The course gets 1000 interested students (in Business jargon, we call them ‘Leads’). Eventually, 50 students enroll in the IIT Robotics course (we can now safely call them ‘Closed leads’). There are 950 students still interested in ‘robotics’ but may not be willing to pay such a high price.
By that same in-built algorithm, Online Learning Marketplace promotes the Robotics course from XYZ, to the rest of the 950 interested students (by the way, they are still ‘leads’, not ‘closed leads’).
Since the XYZ course is priced at a lower price, (with perhaps an added feature of ‘money back guarantee’), 1% of the 950 join the course offered by XYZ.
As a thumb-rule, quality of education needs to be given priority in order for a course to be featured in OLM! As a result, XYZ imparts an excellent course to those 9-10 students who got enrolled.
50% of the enrolled students give ‘excellent feedback’ on XYZ’s course.
This feedback helps XYZ’s course index better and gain a better searchability in the OLM.
As a direct consequence, the next batch of the same robotics course from XYZ will have every possibility of getting more students.
Slowly XYZ develops a brand and gains greater visibility. Thanks to the smart, default mechanism of the Online Learning Marketplace.
In this process, everyone wins; the IIT, the students and XYZ. The ultimate winner is education!
I would like to conclude with this:
If one understands the business of knowledge, and its primary purpose, the Online Learning Marketplace can be a huge success. It can bring great opportunities for online teachers as well as online learners; beyond our imagination. More importantly, it can strengthen the education fraternity by doing away with the nitty-gritties, through its default mechanism, thus making sure the focus lies on Knowledge-transaction alone.