How students can flourish in the coming online age

“Online education is tougher for the school students. In the younger classrooms, more than the learning you do from the teacher.

Sunil Rajguru
New Update

Edited excerpts from an exhaustive video interview with Arjun Mohan, CEO-India, upGrad...


“Online education is tougher for the school students. In the younger classrooms, more than the learning you do from the teacher, it is the learning you do from your peers. It is extremely hard for these kids to sit in front of a laptop. I don’t think pure online is something any school will be able to do. They will have to continue this offline mechanism.

If you look at any higher secondary or college syllabus in subjects like physics and maths, the concepts and derivations like say the Pythagoras theorem, surface tension: These are standard concepts which have been around for decades. You really don’t need a teacher to repeat this again and again. These can be presented in the form of an impressive video done by a real master with the help of 3D animation. That will make it clearer and easier for a student to learn at any level. Going forward every institution will have to do that.

My advice to the students is that you should understand which part can be done easily online and which part you should bring in the social or interaction element. Once you are clear on that, you will not have to spend a lot of time in front of the laptop. Once you know the concept, then you do your discussion in the classroom with your teacher.


The push for a higher gross enrolment ratio

In the New Education Policy (NEP) that the Government of India is championing, one of the big things they are saying is that in colleges there will be an online mode of learning. They will give out online degrees. Now with online can, we take the best of the universities and make that quality applicable to everyone? That I feel will become a very important part of the future of college education in India. I feel that is going to be a very important part of our future, which makes it necessary for a lot of students to be comfortable learning online.

5-10 years down the line we may see an apprentice or internship-driven bachelor's education in India, at least in certain clusters. For a country like India, which has a lot of Maths proficiency, this makes a lot of sense. This will help students become more employable. This will provide students the flexibility to do a day job. This is culturally a very different way of doing your college education. That is one acceptance we should have as an economy.


We need it. Without that, I don’t think we will be able to achieve our lofty GDP projections because we are talking now about a country with a 28-29% gross enrolment ratio. Nobody is building universities to take it to 65% in the next 10-15 years. We can solve it online.

Handling the 3 problems of Indian education

The upgrade was started because we felt the Indian education system is not able to create highly skilled graduates at scale because of three reasons: Our education system is not accessible to everyone, it’s not affordable to everyone and the quality is not great as it excites everyone. First is the access part. We built a platform that can be run in any form factor. Even your basic mobile can become your classroom. It will work on low-speed internet. So literally any part of the country can join a university course through the upgrade.


When you take a course online and make it on the scale, it becomes more affordable. We have multiple tiers depending on which university level you want. The third, quality, is a continuous process. You cannot build a high-quality project and retire. The objective has always been to build an online system where you mimic how a student learns and gets outcomes in a high-quality university. The outcome is decided by the industry. We keep in touch with the industry. We rely on subject matter experts from the industry.

Finally, people today need to be at least updated to understand what is happening around them. For instance, nowadays we see a lot of people from non-tech backgrounds coming to us to learn data science. Because data science is something which is used everywhere today.”

These are excerpts from a video chat with Editor Sunil Rajguru and part of our PCQuest 35 Years Series on the Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow of Technology.

Check out the complete interview...