Unacademy, backed by venture capital funds Sequoia Capital and SAIF Partners, has launched live video subscription on its platform, a move aimed at monetizing its captive student base and growing revenues for top teachers. Vedantu, Toppr and Byju’s are also adopting live video learning, even as their revenue models and target audiences differ.
The move by these education startups mirrors trends in China, where several billion-dollar startups including VIPKid and Yuanfudao use live learning as a medium to democratize education.
“Technology-driven live learning has immense potential to make learning interactive and adds more value to the student’s preparation,” said Alok Goel, Partner, SAIF Partners, and an investor in Unacademy.
The paid user base for online education is expected to touch 9.6 million by 2021, according to a report by KPMG in collaboration with Google. Competitive exams and test preparation are expected to be among the fastest growing segments.
Over 200 million students prepare for exams in India each year, and they are increasingly looking at vast pool of online resources to better compete.
On average, a student spends more than 90 minutes per day on its paid platform, while teachers earn around $2,000 per month, says Gaurav Munjal, co-founder and CEO of Unacademy. “We did multiple experiments in 2018, tried monetization experiments from selling individual courses to a bunch of other things. This is what works for us.”
The company is currently focusing on more than 12 exam preparation courses, including UPSC, IIT-JEE and CAT. In its beta phase, more than 600 live classes take place on the Unacademy live platform everyday with 400 teachers.
Learners get access to live classes, test-prep material and end-to-end follow up with teachers, including doubt-clearing sessions and live test series. Unacademy’s paid platform, in its beta launch, hosts about 10,000 students. Unacademy, which started as a free learning platform, allows educators to create courses on various subjects, including content for various competitive exams.
According to live online tutoring company Vedantu, the need for quality education is massive and underpenetrated.
“Several students and parents who had experienced the shortcomings of the traditional learning system, choose online learning as an option only to realize its effectiveness in delivering quality education,” the company said in a post.
Vedantu says it reached a milestone of 1 million live learning hours on its platform in December. Earlier this month, the Beijing-based TAL Education Group, an education and technology enterprise, invested $5 million (around Rs 35 crore) in Vedantu.
Learning outcomes, however, are still suffering due to a lack of quality as a lot of content is just uploading offline material, which tends to be neither engaging nor interactive.
“Live classes have proven to be more effective in driving student activity, with 4X higher engagement compared to recorded videos and lectures, eventually helping aspirants score better,” said Shobhit Bhatnagar, CEO, Gradeup, an online learning platform.